Usain Bolt shocked the world in 2009 when he raced to a world-record 9.58s to win the 100m at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany.

Former Jamaican high-school star athlete Christopher Taylor says he is thriving in Florida where he is training under the guidance of internationally acclaimed coach Rana Reider.

The Wanda Diamond League today suspended a further two meetings in June as it continues to adapt the 2020 season calendar in the face of the coronavirus crisis, while Oslo’s Bislett Games are to be staged in an alternative format.

In recent weeks, the Wanda Diamond League has been forced to suspend a number of its early-season meetings as a result of health and logistical concerns brought about by the global coronavirus crisis.

Today the series announced the postponement of further meetings in Eugene, scheduled for 7 June, and Paris, June 13.

As with previous suspensions, this decision was reached in close consultation with all relevant parties and based on concerns over athlete safety as well as widespread travel restrictions which make it impossible to stage the competitions as planned.

Meanwhile, the Bislett Games also announced plans to host an alternative athletics competition, an exhibition event dubbed 'The Impossible Games', on June 11, the original date of this year’s Oslo Diamond League meeting.

The concept will see a number of world-class athletes take part in a one-off showpiece event in full observation of Norway’s coronavirus regulations and social distancing rules.

The programme is currently set to include a world record attempt from Norwegian hurdles star Karsten Warholm and a long-distance pole vault battle between world record holder Mondo Duplantis and record Diamond League Champion Renaud Lavillenie.

Organisers were nonetheless keen to stress that the full programme is yet to be confirmed and subject to changes.

The hour-long event will be shown live by Norway’s public broadcaster NRK and will be partly financed by the Norwegian National Athletics Association and World Athletics.

“This is really positive news for athletes and fans and promises, even in this early stage, to be another great night of athletics from the Bislett stadium. Congratulations to the Oslo Bislett Games for dreaming this up and following it through, working within the pandemic guidelines set out in Norway,” said World Athletics president Sebastian Coe.

“We are delighted to support the event by releasing the funds World Athletics makes to each Diamond League event but with one caveat, which is that the entire amount we are contributing goes to prize money for the athletes competing.”

Oslo meeting director and Bislett Alliance CEO Steinar Hoen said the athletes were “hungry for competitions”.

“We want to give them a high-class event. We have had a very positive dialogue with both the municipality of Oslo and the infection prevention superior in Oslo, and have confirmed a concept that is well within the government's infection control requirements,” he added.

 

 

It is no secret that Yohan Blake’s work ethic is the stuff of legend.

That ethic helped the 2011 World 100m champion become the fastest man in the world, not named Usain Bolt. His 9.69/19.26 over the 100 and 200m is testament to that fact. In fact, had it not been for the presence of Bolt, Blake might well have been a double Olympic champion in 2012 when his 9.75 and 19.44 saw him win double silver.

However, the past few years have been unkind to the man formerly known as The Beast. Hamstring injuries have slowed Blake to the point where he missed out on winning medals in 2016 in Rio and 2017 at the World Championships in London.

The Tokyo 2020 Games would have been another opportunity for the 30-year-old Blake to re-establish himself as one of the world’s best sprinters. However, with the Games being postponed to the summer of 2021, Blake is leaning once again on that work ethic. While the pandemic rages across the globe, Blake is putting the work he deems essential to get back to being at his best.

“My career in athletics has been a dream come true.  For that, I give thanks every day.  But with injuries things get difficult. Yet, I don't stop, I keep pushing to come back,” Blake said on Instagram on Wednesday under a 90-second video of him executing some excruciating leg exercises under the supervision of his coach Gregory Little.

“With Coronavirus everything is postponed right now I am making the most of it.  I am using this time to talk with my body and unlock the power of my mind to conquer and overcome what has been holding me back on the track. I am working hard to get back to that dangerous form.”

 

With a personal best of 9.86 in the 100m, Keston Bledman is arguably one of the most-talented sprinters ever to come out of Trinidad and Tobago.  His talent was evident from very early on when he won a bronze medal in the 100m at the World U18 Championships in Marrakech in 2005.

In 1936 Jesse Owens won four gold medals at a single Olympics. That has been equalled on the track but has never been surpassed. The moment was something track & Field would never forget.

The Olympics were to be held in Berlin, Germany in 1936 and while the World was not to know this just yet, but a second World War would give the event added significance.

Owen’s achievement, on the back of what was to come in the world of men and war, was important. The achievement was special, the where, when and why of it cannot be overstated, however, I would like to focus on one of those gold medals, more specifically, the long jump.

Owens would win the 100, 200, 4x100-metre relay, and the long jump. The last of these has a fantastic story and makes for an absolutely brilliant moment in time.

The American was an unknown quantity to the World, though he did achieve World record-runs in 1935 during his final year on the collegiate circuit.

At the Olympics a year later, the sprinter made his first gold medal look easy.

He would run away with the 100-metre dash, equaling the world record and winning by a tenth of a second.

Now that he was no longer an unknown quantity at the ’36 Olympics, Owens was in for a challenge.

The story goes, the officials would not allow Owens to win a second gold medal, especially since Adolf Hitler, the charismatic German leader, was intent on showing the world that his country was, again, a force to reckon with and Luz Long, a countryman, was a serious challenger in the event.

The story goes on to suggest that Owens was deliberately called for foul jumps on his first two attempts in the final, but that Long suggest the American jump from further back, making it impossible for there to be a discrepancy.

Even with the disadvantage and only one clean jump, Owens still managed 8.06 metres, just three and a quarter inches outside of his World Record.

Long was beaten, but the moment to remember still hadn’t come yet.

That moment would come immediately after the medal ceremony for the long jump where Long and Owens would celebrate their achievements by walking arm in arm around the stadium.

The symbol was powerful and that, even more than a black man dispelling the myth that there was a superior Aryan race in existence, every man should be respected.

Even in the midst of differing opinions on politics and what have you, people could find common ground. That common ground, on this particular occasion, was sport.

For that reason, while Owens’ achievement during those Olympics was remarkable, there was another hero who should be celebrated. Long’s gestures, during the event and at the medal ceremony, should be remembered for the great sporting moment it was.

Hitler would go on to lose World War II but the first battle he lost came at those ’36 Olympics right in his backyard.

Although I needed time to improve my skills as a high jumper, the reserve team did not sit well with me.

Danielle Williams, the 2019 World Championship bronze medallist, says she is humbled that she will be enshrined into the NCAA Division II Hall of Fame as a member of the 2020 Class.

Last week I looked at the trends linking timespans between the great eras of Jamaican male sprinting.

Meanwhile, the island’s women were more consistent but, alas, to the Jamaican public, sprinting success only seems to matter when the men do well.

When Jamaica’s men have struggled to win medals, their women – Merlene Ottey, Juliet Cuthbert, Sandie Richards, Merlene Fraser, Juliet Campbell, Beverley McDonald, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson, Kerron Stewart, Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, kept the country’s flag flying by winning medals.

However, these days I worry about what I believe is happening with a lot of Jamaica’s emerging male and female sprinters who seem unable to navigate the gap between their amateur status and the professional ranks.

There are several reasons why I believe this is happening, injury being one of the major factors, but today I will focus on what I believe to be another.

It was the 18thcentury American political activist Thomas Paine who said:

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble that can gather strength from distress and grow.”

It is a lesson many Jamaican youngsters would do well to learn.

After Usain Bolt blew up in 2008 with three gold medals and three world records in Beijing, many aspiring young athletes were inspired to be like him. They were coming out of the woodwork by the dozens. High-school track and field coaches experienced a boon in talent as they had never experienced before.

Along with the emergence of new talent came global sponsors seeking to snap up the next star early and cheaply.

After all, Bolt was signed early and cheaply by his sponsors who benefitted greatly as he rocketed to stardom. This came on the heels of a period of uncertainty when it seemed as if he was going to be yet another casualty of a system that many argue asks too much too soon of our high-school athletes.

However, when Bolt and company stunned the Commonwealth in 2006 in Melbourne and then the world two years later, there seemed to be a mad rush on to sign any child in the Jamaican high school system that displayed a modicum of talent.

Kids were signing contracts left, right and centre and 12 years later, it is almost embarrassing to see how few have successfully transitioned to the senior ranks.

Mind you, there are good and bad sides to what was happening.

On the good side, a few Jamaican kids from humble backgrounds were able to secure small contracts that allowed them to ‘eat’ and maintain a fairly decent lifestyle as they prepared to launch into professional track and field.

When you have nothing and someone offers you something more, it is easy to lose perspective. A few kids and their families were able to secure homes, a nice car, and a little money in the bank.

However, in too many instances all this seemed to do was take away the hunger that is oftentimes necessary to keep athletes focused on what the real goal is. Yes, a few thousand US dollars can make life better but imagine what could be, if you actually won something or became the best in the world.

Alas, for too many kids, the morsel seemed to be enough.

I remember attending the signing ceremony of a particular youngster who had promised so much during his years in high school. I believe the value of the contract was somewhere in the six figures, a life-changing amount of money for someone who before had relatively very little.

I was truly happy for the youngster. However, months later all I saw from the athlete was the purchase of a shiny new car and a frequency on the club circuit in New Kingston. Meanwhile, performances on the track progressively got worse.

Unfortunately, this has become the norm for too many.

Putting the carrot before the horse can be a good thing. However, giving the horse the carrot before the journey has even begun can have disastrous consequences.

As Paine suggests, working hard and making sacrifices tend to make any reward a lot more meaningful. You are less likely to take that reward for granted. However, when fortune literally falls into your lap when you have accomplished nothing, it can make you feel a bit entitled.

I think Michael Frater, the 2005 World 100m silver medallist, a man who has run the 100m dash in 9.88 seconds, was onto something when he spoke to the media recently about why some of Jamaica’s youngsters are failing to make the grade.

“They feel like it's a sense of entitlement where they feel they are just going out there and other athletes are going to roll over and let them win, and that's not the case,” Frater said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

“They weren't hungry enough to go out there and get it. You have to go out and fight for what you want.”

It is hard to fight for what you want when things come too easy. Too many of these kids now believe all they have to do is run fast in high school and things will come easy after. That only happens for a few.

People see Bolt and his success, the flashy cars and the lavish lifestyle and forget how he got there. It took four years of blood, sweat and tears, disappointment and getting his butt handed to him on the track before he finally realised what was required to be the best in the world.

The lesson seems to have fallen onto deaf ears.

Many would do well to learn that lesson… or to borrow a Jamaican phrase, “If yuh waah good, yuh nose haffi run.”

 

 

Jamaica’s 400m hurdler Dinsdale Morgan is to be inducted into the USTFCCCA NCAA Division II Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame as a member of the 2020 Class.

Hey guys, I’m coming to you with a little request. Please stop pretending to be a fan???!!! The grass is green over here too— I promise.

Let me tell you a story of how I quit faking it.

There was a time when I forced myself into the athletic space. It was the most embarrassing experience of my life (thus far).

When I was 11, I struggled with athletics. There I was, lanky and delicate in a school known for dominating sports. Unlike my schoolmates who had gold

medals dangling from their necks and their accolades being honoured during devotion, I found it hard to value sports.

When I got home from school, I wittered about sports with Lee. Lee was my best friend who, like me, didn’t appreciate sports. We spoke idly about the track

team’s excessive popularity and special treatment. Like, being offered creamy porridge in the morning for breakfast and complimentary PediaSure with lunch.

In PE, I would surreptitiously look through the lineup to see who wore spikes. Everyone knew athletes from the track team wore spikes to PE. According to them, they get accustomed to the shoes that way? Even so, they help athletes run faster and lighter— a bragging right I couldn’t allow. So, at all cost, I avoided getting paired to race against them.

Still, the boys in spikes made PE hard for me because they were usually put in charge of stretches and drills.

“What are you doing Melissa?”

One of them asked while shaking his head in disappointment.

“Drills?”

“No, do it like this...”

As I examined his demonstration, I wondered how it felt to exaggerate warm-ups? To police stretches? To actually be a fan of sports!

Hoping for an athletic opportunity, I kept my eyes and ears wide open.

High jump was a new event for my school. They needed prospective student-athletes to make a team. Coach Barge visited every classroom and issued open invitations for the tryouts. Even though Lee was confused, it didn’t take much for me to convince her and so, she accompanied me.

The tryouts were already in session once we got to the grounds. I immediately started having second thoughts. Spectators, other competitors and the horizontal bar to be cleared welcomed fear. But even then, I didn’t want Lee or better yet, anyone to see me like that.

It was obvious who the crowd favourites were— they looked confident and steady. I followed suit: I counted ten paces from the bar and marked it with tape, then ran up to the bar from the tape a few times.

Shortly after perfecting my strides, it was my turn to jump. I glanced at the ground and walked over to my marker. I leaned all the way back as if someone had me in a slingshot ready to release. In no time I retracted my upper body and began running as fast as I could then launched myself over the bar. I couldn’t believe it.

I was laying on the other side of a broken bar.

Immediately after my unimpressive performance, I glimpsed Lee on the sidelines with her face in her palms. I dragged myself from the bed and began walking towards her. I knew she wouldn’t let me live this down so I tried to think of clever excuses as I approached her.

Nothing came.

“ Are you kidding me!? What was tha...”

Before she could finish, Coach Barge yelled unbelievable news. “Talbert, come training tomorrow. You made the team.”

I confidently answered her as if I was expecting to be selected. “Yes, Coach.”

I turned to Lee and gave her a smirk.

“You were saying?”

Tomorrow came and I was now on the track team. Still, it was so obvious that I didn’t belong.

It didn’t take long for me to stop faking it but now I know all the signs that show you are.

 

Six signs that make you a fake fan:

 

  • You pretend to know about teams/players
  • You like sports because everybody else does
  • You force excitement
  • You only tune in to the game’s finals
  • And my personal faves;
  • You joined the track team for porridge
  • You joined the track team for complimentary PediaSure

 

Share your experience as or with a fake fan on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use the hashtag IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Danielle Williams, the 2015 World 100m hurdles champion and 2019 bronze medallist will be enshrined in the USTFCCCA NCAA Division II Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame as the Class of 2020.

Jamaica’s National track and field coach, Maurice Wilson, believes ‘there has to be training’ for athletes even as the country and the world battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 15 is 'Jackie Robinson Day' in MLB, an annual celebration of baseball's great trailblazer.

In 1947 a 28-year-old Robinson walked out onto Ebbets Field, Brooklyn and became the first black man to play professional baseball in the modern era.

Here we take a look at those who broke down barriers or revolutionised their sport with acts that continue to have lasting impacts.

 

JESSE OWENS

Not only did Owens crush his competition at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in Nazi Germany, he also destroyed Adolf Hitler's Aryan supremacy theory in the process.

Owens, a black American born in Alabama, won gold over 100 and 200 metres, the long jump and the 4 x 100m relay, becoming the darling of the German public and reportedly annoying Hitler along the way.

In 1976, Owens was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest civilian honour for an American.

JACKIE ROBINSON

When he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on Opening Day in 1947, Robinson ended 60 years of segregation in his sport.

By 1956, Robinson's final year in the majors, black players made up 6.7 per cent of major league rosters. That number was still only 7.7 per cent in 2019.

Robinson was a six-time All Star, the 1949 National League MVP and a 1955 World Series champion. His number 42 is retired by every MLB franchise.

BILLIE JEAN KING

King was not only an incredibly successful player - one who won 39 grand slam titles across singles, doubles and mixed doubles - she was also a pioneer for women's tennis.

In 1970, frustrated by a disparity in prize money between men and women, King led a group of nine women to form a new competition, which eventually led to the formation of the WTA Tour.

King also beat former men's world number one Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes in 1973, a match that was watched by 90 million people worldwide and was considered key to gaining greater recognition for women's tennis.

JIMMY HILL

Players paid £100,000s every week owe a debt of gratitude to Hill, the former chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA).

Back in the 1950s, players in England were only allowed to earn a maximum of £20 a week due to a Football League salary cap that Hill, in his role with the PFA, successfully campaigned to scrap in 1961.

Later that year Hill's Fulham team-mate Johnny Haynes became the country's first £100-a-week player. Today, Lionel Messi has a wage in excess of €600,000 per week.

DICK FOSBURY

The creators of the Cruyff Turn and the Dilscoop might have produced feats of skill worthy of bearing their names, but neither man completely redefined the way their entire sport is approached.

Fosbury began experimenting with a new way to perform the high jump during high school and his success with the Fosbury Flop started to be replicated by others.

The American won gold at the 1968 Olympics. Four years later over half of the high jumpers used Fosbury's technique. Today it remains the most popular method to try and clear the bar.

Seventy-three years after his MLB debut on April 15, Jackie Robinson continues to be remembered by MLB.

The man who broke the colour barrier is celebrated on Jackie Robinson Day, with players, coaches and managers alike wearing his number 42 during games.

April 15 is poignant for Liverpool fans, due to the Hillsborough disaster, and Bostonians, because of the Boston Marathon bombing.

 

1947 - Jackie Robinson breaks down the colour barrier

In 1947, 28-year-old Robinson walked out onto Ebbets Field, Brooklyn and became the first black player ever to appear in MLB.

Robinson was a six-time All-Star, a National League MVP and a 1955 World Series champion during his time with the Dodgers.

He would go on to be named to the Baseball Hall of Fame and his number 42 has been retired by all MLB teams.

 

1986 - Richards' rapid century against England

One of Test cricket's finest batsmen produced one of his greatest innings against England in Antigua.

West Indian Viv Richards needed just 56 balls to reach three figures, smashing seven sixes and as many fours before finishing unbeaten on 110 not out from 58 deliveries.

It was a record that stood for 30 years before New Zealand's Brendon McCullum, the current record-holder, broke the mark in two fewer deliveries.

 

1986 - 96 fans die in Hillsborough disaster 

On the same day as Richards was making history, Liverpool were mourning the worst sporting disaster in British history.

Ninety-six people lost their lives while 766 were injured when fans were crushed at Hillsborough in Sheffield during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Sheffield Wednesday.

In a subsequent enquiry, The Taylor Report recommended a move to all-seater stadia, which led to a ban on standing for clubs in the top two flights in 1994.

 

2013 - Boston Marathon bombings kill three, injure hundreds

During the 117th annual Boston Marathon, which took place on Patriots Day seven years ago, two bombs detonated near the finish line.

Three people died while a further 264 were injured. At least 14 people required amputations.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who remains on death row, later admitted to carrying out the attack with his brother, Tamerlan, who was killed during the manhunt that followed the bombing.

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