'Stressed' Bolt remains loyal to Jamaica, declares he is not broke

By Sports Desk January 27, 2023
Usain Bolt Usain Bolt

The man at the centre of a JMD$3 billion fraud investigation involving investment firm Stocks and Securities Limited, eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt on Friday declared his loyalty to Jamaica and that he is not broke despite the potential loss of an estimated US$12 million or about JMD$2 billion.

Bolt was hardest hit in the scam that has impacted about 40 clients of SSL and the matter is being aggressively investigated by the Jamaican police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Bolt’s lawyers have written to the investment firm demanding the return of his money within 10 days or face legal consequences. Those 10 days expired on Friday.

Earlier, while speaking at a sponsors’ luncheon for the 2023 Gibson Relays, Bolt assured his fellow Jamaicans that he remains loyal to his country despite the ongoing matter, which he described as being stressful.

“No matter what’s going on right now, Jamaica is my country and that will never change and I will always love my country and will do everything in my power to uplift this country no matter what’s going on,” Bolt told the gathering at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.

Speaking with members of the media afterwards, Bolt also revealed that he fired former business manager Norman Peart refuting claims made by Peart that their parting was amicable. “It’s simple, he was fired,” Bolt said. “It was not amicable, he was fired.”

Regarding the potential lawsuit against SSL, Bolt said, “Well, it’s 10 days, so give it time and you will see what will happen.”

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    Jamaica warmed up for the 48th edition of the Copa America with back-to-back tame displays in their World Cup qualifiers. A slender 1-0 home win over Dominican Republic was followed up with an insipid 3-2 triumph in Dominica.

    It is back to the drawing board for Jamaica head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, who will be chasing regional bragging rights when the leading 16 nations from the Caribbean as well as North and South America tackle the marquee tournament.

    Although his ultimate goal would be for the Reggae Boyz to lift the crown in Florida on 14 July, Jamaica need to navigate themselves out of the group phases before trying to net the top prize.

    The 2024 Copa America, hosted in the US from 20 June to 14 July, will feature 10 CONMEBOL members from South America and six invited countries from the North America and Caribbean CONCACAF region.

    All eyes will be on Argentina, the defending champions and FIFA World Cup winners, to make it a hat-trick of trophies.

    GROUP A | Argentina, Chile, Peru, Chile
    Argentina hardly ever concede goals, kick-off their campaign with a star-stunned squad that includes Angel Di Maria, the legendary Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Montiel, whose spot-kick secured the World Cup final win over France.

    Argentina beat both Chile (2-1) and Peru (2-0) in 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Yet Peru, who failed to get a shot on target in their November tie with Messi and his mates, had held Argentina to three draws on the spin before their last encounter.

    Chile, the Copa America 2016 champions Chile, have been off colour recently under veteran manager Jorge Fossati, and rely on veterans — like Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas — to add sparks.

    Canada should be better than their results suggest under recently appointed head coach Jesse Marsh, who won two caps for the US. He has a plethora of talents — like Alphonso Davies, Tajon Buchanan and Jonathan David — keen to start matches on Canada’s Copa America
    Prediction: 1st Argentina, 2nd Canada, 3rd Chile, 4th Peru

    GROUP B | Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Jamaica

    Mexico went two-and-a-half matches without scoring at the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar. They brought in Jaime “Jimmy” Lozano as interim head coach for the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and after winning the top prize he was appointed on a permanent basis. Yet he is surprisingly shelving veterans for the Copa America, instead giving emerging talents an opportunity to showcase their silky skills.

    This appears to be a hit and miss group with Ecuador, Jamaica and Venezuela all capable of beating understrength Mexico. However, the Mexicans will benefit from vociferous support in the stadiums.

    Ecuador and Venezuela ended in a bore scoreless draw last October. Defensively-minded Ecuador have stars Moises Caicedo, Piero Hincapie and Willian Pacho. Venezuela have hit a purple patch by purring through their World Cup qualifiers.

    Jamaica still have failed to produce eye-catching displays under former Iceland head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, despite their array of English Premier League stars. The Boyz just grind out results, although tend to make good progress in tournaments mainly thanks to reliable shotstopper Andre Blake.

    Prediction: 1st Mexico, 2nd Jamaica, 3rd Venezuela, 4th Ecuador

    GROUP C | Uruguay, USA, Bolivia, Panama

    Uruguay are a real force to be reckoned with, with stunning victories over Argentina and Brazil last year under head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Uruguay are a terrific blend of future stars and seasoned aces with names like Darwin Nunez, Luis Suarez, Manuel Ugarte and Fede Valverde enough to scare opponents.

    The US will be under pressure with high expectations from their fans on home soil. Despite being FIFA’s highest-ranked CONCACAF side, there are flaws with defensive uncertainty and an inability to find the back of the net despite having an array of striking power from the likes of Folarin Balogun, Weston McKennie, Ricardo Pepi, Christian Pulisic and Haji Wright.

    Panama, narrowly beaten by Mexico in the Gold Cup final, will kick themselves if they fail to reach the quarter-finals. They are brimming with confidence having hit a rich vein of form.

    Bolivia are the weakest South American side, with a dreadful World Cup qualifying campaign. They are unlikely to end their 11-match run of failing to win a Copa America group stage match.

    Prediction: 1st Uruguay, 2nd Panama, 3rd USA, 4th Bolivia
    GROUP D | Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Costa Rica

    Colombia have become a fantastic side since hiring head coach Nestor Lorenzo last year. They arrive at the Copa Amercia as the only South American nation unbeaten in World Cup qualifiers, including a 2-1 win over Brazil last year. Striker Luis Diaz can be lethal, and will be keen to better his tally of four goals at 2021 Copa America.

    Five-time World Cup winners Brazil, having tasted three World Cup qualification defeats on the bounce for their worst run since 2001 are arguably no longer the force they once were. After their 1-0 reversal to Argentina last November, their first-ever home World Cup qualifying loss, Dorival Junior was brought in as head coach. Under Junior’s tutelage they beat England and drew with Spain. Hot-shots Vinicius Junior and 17-year-old wonderkid Endrick are aiming to transform Brazil’s fortunes.

    Paraguay will be aiming to shoot down Brazil, but need a solid goalscorer. They are pretty solid defensively, and could be sensational if midfield maestro Miguel Almiron and striker Julio Enciso can replicate their silky skills seen in the English Premier League. Costa Rica face an uphill task to navigate their way to the knockout stages, and there will be big boots to fill between the sticks with iconic keeper Keylor Navas recently announcing his international retirement.

    Prediction: 1st Colombia, 2nd Brazil, 3rd Paraguay, 4th Costa Rica

     

  • Leon Bailey snubs Jamaica after being named in Reggae Boyz Copa America squad Leon Bailey snubs Jamaica after being named in Reggae Boyz Copa America squad

    In an unfortunate developing situation, Jamaica and Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey has withdrawn from the Reggae Boyz 26-man squad named for the upcoming Copa America tournament. His inclusion and subsequent withdrawal comes amid controversy and conflicting statements from Bailey and his representatives.

    Bailey, who was suspended for breaking curfew during the November international break, has not featured in Jamaica's recent matches, including the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against the Dominican Republic and Dominica earlier this month. Following the release of the squad by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Wednesday, Bailey took to Instagram on Wednesday night to label the selection as "misleading information."

    The winger’s father, Craig Butler, reiterated Bailey’s stance on social media, stating that his son's decision to step back from international duty remains unchanged. "We kindly ask that you respect his wishes at this time," Butler wrote. "Posts made on social media that are surfacing at this time is a misrepresentation of his position. We wish the Reggae Boyz well in the Copa America competition and he, along with his management team, will continue to support the Jamaica National Team at all levels … change must come…Respect and One Love for all."

    The JFF has not commented on whether they received a commitment from Bailey to participate in the tournament.

    Bailey, 26, recently expressed his deep love for his country and his frustrations with the national team environment. In a recent interview with The Cut, he said, "Honestly I don’t know when I will be back in the national team colours. I love my country to the core. I am always here in Jamaica. I can’t tell when I will be back in the national team colours. Once I feel like I have seen a little bit of change … I don’t know how to explain it but why I’m taking a break is because it is too much for my head sometimes."

    He continued, "A lot of people don’t understand or look deeply into why I am representing. I really love my country. I love my country so much that I am willing to get injured, willing to risk not going back to a starting Aston Villa team. I make so many sacrifices to make the national team. People don’t understand that and that’s what hurts me. It’s too much for my head sometimes."

    The Reggae Boyz squad for the Copa America is as follows:

    Goalkeepers: Shaquan Davis, Andre Blake, Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Jahmali Waite

    Defenders: Dexter Lembikisa, Di'Shorn Bernard, Greg Leigh, Damion Lowe, Michael Hector, Richard King, Wesley Harding, Ethan Pinnock, Jon Bell, Amari'i Bell

    Midfielders: Kasey Palmer, Kevon Lambert, Bobby Reid, Alex Marshall, Joel Latibeaudiere, Karoy Anderson

    Forwards: Shamar Nicholson, Renaldo Cephas, Michail Antonio, Demarai Gray, Kaheim Dixon, Leon Bailey*

     

    With Bailey's participation in doubt, the Reggae Boyz will have to navigate the Copa America without one of their key players, unless further developments arise. The situation remains fluid, and fans are eagerly awaiting clarity on Bailey’s final decision regarding his national team duties.

  • Jamaica assembles 4x400m relay squad for New Life Invitational in final push for Olympic qualification Jamaica assembles 4x400m relay squad for New Life Invitational in final push for Olympic qualification

    In a final bid to secure their spot at the Paris Olympic Games this summer, Jamaica's Administrative Athletics Association (JAAA) has announced a six-man relay team set to compete in the 4x400m relay at the New Life Invitational in the Bahamas on Sunday, June 17. The squad aims to surpass the qualifying mark of 2:58.45, a time that would move them ahead of France and Zambia, who have clocked 2:59.12, in the global rankings.

    The selected athletes, Tarees Rhoden, Kimar Farquharson, Raheem Hayles, Jevaughn Powell, Shevioe Reid, and Malik James-King, bring a wealth of recent performance successes, particularly from the NCAA National Division 1 Championships held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

    Powell, who ran a season-best 44.54 seconds to place third in the 400m final, demonstrated his relay prowess with a blistering 44.34-second split for the Florida Gators, contributing to their third-place finish in the 4x400m relay. Meanwhile, Farquharson, primarily an 800m specialist, demonstrated his versatility with a 44.38-second split on the third leg for Texas A&M, securing the gold medal.

    Hayles also put in a solid performance at the NCAA Championships, finishing seventh in the 400m final with a time of 45.58 seconds. James-King, who ran 45.59 seconds earlier this year, rounds out the team, bringing additional depth and speed.

    This upcoming race in the Bahamas represents Jamaica's last opportunity to qualify for the Olympics, as the national championships scheduled for June 27-30 at the National Stadium in Kingston fall within the Olympic qualification window, which closes on June 30.

    The urgency of this attempt is underscored by Jamaica's disappointing performances at the World Relays in May, where the team failed to crack the top 16 globally.

    In the preliminary round of the World Relays, a team consisting of Assinie Wilson, Zandrion Barnes, Demish Gaye, and Malik James-King posted a time of 3:02.48. The second-round team, which included Rusheen McDonald, Wilson, Gaye, and James-King, fared even worse with a time of 3:05.09, highlighting the need for a revitalized and more competitive squad.

    Accompanying the athletes to the Bahamas are Team Manager Brian Smith, Head Coach Mark Elliott, Coach Lamar Richards, and Massage Therapist Oral Thompson, all of whom are integral to ensuring the team's optimal performance.

    On paper, Jamaica's new lineup boasts the credentials to make a successful bid for Olympic qualification. With key athletes hitting peak form at the NCAA Championships, there is a renewed sense of optimism and determination within the team. As they take to the track at the New Life Invitational, the eyes of a nation will be watching, hopeful that this talented group can deliver a performance worthy of Olympic contention.

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