A decade after saying he had no interest in playing American football, retired track icon Usain Bolt is now saying that he would consider playing in National Football League (NFL) but only if certain teams came calling.

Retired Jamaica sprint superstar Usain Bolt has insisted he was never worried about rising United States track star Noah Lyles eclipsing his 200m world record at the Doha World Championships.

The 22-year-old American had a stellar season, even breaking Bolt’s meet record at the Paris Diamond League meet.  On the back of several strong performances to claim the US 200m national title, including an effortless win at the US national trials, speculation grew that Lyles would go after the world’s best mark of 19.19 set in 2009.

In the end, Lyles was triumphant and claimed the 200m title in 19.83, while more than good enough for gold, the time was slower than some expected.

“I knew he wasn’t going to get it. It’s not easy. A lot of people see it and feel like you show up and you just run fast,” Bolt told NBC Sports Olympic Talk.

“For me, throughout the season, I figured out what I needed to do. I didn’t run races because I wanted to run fast. I ran races to figure out how I needed to run the corner, my technique I needed to fix. If you followed me through my career, I didn’t run a lot throughout the season. I trained. I ran and competed, figured out what I needed to improve, then did that [repeated that process] over again. That’s what I did to perfect my race [for the championships].”

 

Injured Jamaican sprinter, double Olympic champion, Elaine Thompson will not know what her recovery will look like for another two weeks.

From the moment Tajay Gayle took off to when his feet kissed the sandpit, everyone who witnessed the jump knew, once the white flag came up signifying a legal effort, that something amazing had occurred. The scoreboard matched expectations, as the mark of 8.69m appeared to set tongues wagging inside the Khalifa International Stadium and around the world.

Meet Jamaica’s newest star who produced the jump of his life, the tenth best of all-time, to win the men’s long jump at the World Athletics Championships, Doha 2019.

The multi-talented Gayle hails from August Town, a tough inner-city community in Eastern St. Andrew, where life can be a daily struggle. Track and field saved him.

We are sitting in the lobby of the opulent Curve Hotel in Doha and the usually laid back Gayle uncharacteristically moves closer to the recorder and, like a history professor, spoke about his journey for 48 uninterrupted minutes.

Early trust in coach

It all started at Papine High School, the same institution that produced 2016 World U20 champion Tiffany James. However, the soft-spoken Gayle, unlike his celebrated teammate James, was a late bloomer who competed in several events before finding his niche.

“I started as a sprinter,” said Gayle. “I did not take the sport seriously my first three years in high school. I was not training properly; I was going there to have fun. However, Coach Shanieke Osbourne saw something in me that I did not see. From then I trusted her and did what I was told.”

He first competed at the Jamaican High Schools’ Boys and Girls Championships in 10th grade contesting the high jump. The following season he began to show a deep affection towards the long jump and added it to his range.

“I was always winning the long jump at our annual school sports day and perhaps that’s what Coach Osbourne saw and started to encourage me. I prefer the long jump over the high jump because the high jump is too technical and I don’t like to turn my back to stuff,” Gayle said with a chuckle.

Gayle failed to make either the horizontal or vertical jump finals at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships in 2014. The following year, his final time competing at the championships, he bowed out showing his vast repertoire. “My coach told me that I can excel in any event. She pointed out that I am a very technical person and a fast learner and she wanted me to try the decathlon.”

After amassing 5987 points to finish seventh overall, he was quite happy to create history as the first male to contribute points for his school at the annual championships. Gayle highlighted that the performance that stood out for him in the gruelling contest, though wind-aided, was the 6.94m in the long jump.

2018 NACAC silver

After leaving Papine High, he enrolled at the University of Technology, an institution renowned for producing world-class athletes, but just like in high school, he began competing in the high jump. One day his watershed moment arrived, fortuitously.

“I turned up for practice and noticed that the high jump mat was wet. I turned to the coach and said it does not look like I am going to train today because there is no landing area. He instructed me to do some long jump practice instead. I went over and joined the group who were doing some twelve strides run ups. I remember jumping 7.29m that day which was a big surprise because my PB before that was 6.54m.”     

On 11 February 2017, Gayle joined the eight-metre club, but could not attain the qualifying standard for the London World Championships. Gayle developed into a fierce competitor in 2018 and after a fourth-place finish at the Commonwealth Games, he won silver at the NACAC Championships in Toronto where he leapt 8.24m, a then lifetime best.

The newly minted world champion had an auspicious start to his 2019 season winning his first four competitions. His first victory at the Grenada Invitational in April, where he cut the sand at 8.20m, came as a cameo appearance because he was in a race against time. “I only had two jumps, 8.04m and 8.20m and then I had to leave because I had a plane to catch. My flight was departing in three hours.”

Back-to-wins in China set the early 2019 stage

A month later, he travelled to China where he carved out two important victories, one at the IAAF Shanghai Diamond League and another 48 hours later at the inaugural Nanjing World Challenge meeting, which took place separately as a “street meet” at a local shopping mall. “This was the best meet for me,” said a delighted Gayle, who won off his last attempt with 8.21m.

“Everything about the meet was nice. The large crowd was very close, so you could feel the energy, the lights and music were just awesome. It was a great experience and I would like to jump at another street event.”

Ten days later at the Bauhaus-Galan IAAF Diamond League meeting in Stockholm, Gayle endured a chilling encounter that almost froze his soaring ambitions. “The Stockholm meet was very, very, very cold. I tried my best to take the conditions off my mind but it was too cold. I jumped a wind-aided 8.05m, finished fifth and strained a tendon under my right knee. That night my leg was swollen, and I was unable to walk freely. It took me over an hour to get to the physiotherapist downstairs, but thankfully a lady, who thought I was dying, stood by me the whole time until my physiotherapist came.”

Consistency continues with Pan-Am Games silver

A fast healer, Gayle recovered sufficiently to chalk up some solid performances including winning the Jamaican national title, his first after three attempts, followed by a lifetime best of 8.32m at the Müller Anniversary Games in London and a silver medal at the Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru, behind Cuban sensation Juan Miguel Echevarría.

“It was in Lima that I started to believe I could jump 8.40s and 8.50s,” Gayle stated.

“Even though it was cold and I was slightly loaded, I had a big jump which was ruled a foul by a toenail, but I didn’t let it get to me, I took the decision and moved on from there knowing I was right where I wanted to be.”

Training through the Diamond League final

The Diamond League final in Zurich served as a final warm-up encounter before the World Championships. However, Gayle admitted his goal was not achieving the lucrative prize. “I was never prepared to win that meet. My focus was Doha, and I was still loaded.”  

The 23-year-old spent the next three weeks practising the hitch kick technique and arrived in Doha with full confidence.

Troubles in Doha qualifying

His campaign almost ended prematurely as he only qualified in last place for the final. “When I jumped 7.89m, I started to get nervous wondering if I made the finals. I am near-sighted and so I could not see the scoreboard clearly. It was my close friend Henry Frayne from Australia, who came and told me that I had qualified.”

Notwithstanding, Gayle was grateful and promised a better showing in the next round. “Honestly, I am not sure what went wrong. My coach (Stephen Francis) and I had been practising some different flight techniques and landings recently. Maybe I was overthinking that part too much and forgot about my run-up as I made a few mistakes. I was happy to make the final though because I was going to give it my all even if I ended up pulling a muscle.”

With the mistakes in qualifying shelved, Gayle did not bother clouding his mind with executing all areas of his technique when he looked down the runway for his opening round. He concentrated on one thing only, which was the advice drilled inside his head by Francis. “Your run-up is the main thing; use your speed against them.”

“I was the third jumper, I expected to be first, and I told myself that I was going to get this on my first jump. I also did something out of character, I started to walk around and point to the crowd to get some vibes. Afterwards, I started talking to myself saying speed and power, speed and power. Then I took off.”

Feeling the speed

His first-round effort of 8.46m improved his PB by 14 centimetres and catapulted him into the lead. However, when he uncorked his 8.69m in the fourth round, he killed the competition stone dead.

“As a jumper, you feel the difference between jumps. On this jump, I felt the speed, I felt the last two steps and height and when I landed, I heard the crowd roar and I said this is a big one and did not even bother to look back. Afterwards, I did not try to prove anything by jumping again once I realised no one could challenge my mark, so I skipped my fifth and six rounds because winning was all that mattered to me.”

After his victory, a number of his competitors were singing his praises including dethroned world champion Luvo Manyonga of South Africa.

“Wow! I saw it coming,” Manyonga said. “I have been watching him throughout the season and he is so calm and collected. He is that underdog but when it comes to competition, he is just talking to himself, very composed and doing what matters. I was expecting something from him but not that far; it caught us all by surprise.”

Track & Field News, widely recognized as the bible of the sport, has named Jamaica’s Briana Williams as the 2019 High School Girls Athlete of the Year.

The Jamaica Administrative Athletics Association (JAAA) president Dr Warren Blake is now in full support of a government to government agreement with Kenya to exchange technical expertise in track and field.

Kenya, long known as giants of middle and long-distance running, has agreed to help Jamaica in that area of the track, an area they have had little to no impact. Jamaica, though, have been masters of sprinting, making an impact where a tiny nation probably wouldn’t be expected to. There, Jamaica has promised to help Kenya, who have recently begun to produce sprinters of fair talent, but have yet to grab real success at the global stage.

According to Blake, the Jamaican government and the JAAA are on the same page, despite the fact that they did not liaise on the initial agreement.

“Even though we were not included in the initial process, it is part of the thing that we are trying to do, which is broaden the scope of Jamaican track and field as that is the only way we are going to stay on top for the long term,” Blake said. “Veronica Campbell-Brown’s statue will be unveiled on Sunday at the Stadium, so I am hoping I get a chance to raise it with her (Sports Minister Olivia Grange). If not, next week I will to do that,” he said.

“We haven’t excelled in distance running. We have had occasional athletes who have performed reasonably in the area like Kemoy Campbell, Aisha Praught[-Leer] and Natoya Goule, but we are not consistent in putting out middle- and long-distance runners.”

According to Blake, the process must not be rushed and it will take time for Jamaica to get a foothold into middle and long-distance sprinting.

Blake explained that this project was attempted in 2012 but with little to no success and asked for patience this time around if the exchange was to bare fruit.

Veronica Campbell-Brown, one of the all-time greats of track and field, was honoured by her home country of Jamaica on Sunday when they mounted a statue of her likeness at Independence Park in Kingston.

Japan will be opening a brand new National Stadium for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo on December 21 and former sprinter, the world’s fastest ever man, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt will be headlining its launch.

While the details are still sketchy, Bolt is expected to be running again in “a new type of race that has never existed before.”

Bolt, the world record holder over 100 and 200 metres, made the Olympics his stage when he won both events in Beijing in 2008, in London in 2012, and in Rio in 2016.

Bolt will be joined by Japanese performing arts group Kodo.

Also part of the inauguration will be the Tohoku Kizuna festival.

The New National Stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2020 Olympics, as well as athletics and football tournaments at throughout. It will also host the Paralympics.

The first official sports event at the stadium will be the Japanese emperor’s cup on January 1, 2020.

Lawyers representing the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) are proceeding to initiate legal action against noted attorney Dr Emir Crowne after the latter refused to apologize for alleged defamatory comments he made about the commission in  August this year.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe has described the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 as the best in history in terms of the quality and depth of performances produced by the athletes of more than 200 nations.

Speaking after the final evening session last Sunday, Coe noted that six championship records had been set, 43 countries had won medals, and athletes from 68 different nations had achieved at least one top-eight placing. There have been 21 area records – double the number from 2017 – and 86 national records have been broken, underlining the global reach of the sport.

“For those who follow our sport closely, you will know that we rank our championships on the performances of the athletes,” Coe said. “It is how we, the athletes and the coaches measure our success.

“The world’s athletes have put on the best show in the history of the IAAF World Athletics Championships, according to the competition performance rankings which are used as an objective measure of the quality of international competition.

“These performances are incredible but credit must also go to the facilities and conditions provided by the host country. Doha has created conditions on the field of play and in the warm up that are unsurpassed.

“We are proud of the fact we reach more countries than any other sport,” added Coe. “Just look at the breadth and depth – 43 countries on the medals table and 86 national records set. We want our athletes to experience different cultures and different conditions. It’s what makes our sport so accessible.”

Dahlan Al Hamad, Vice President of the local organising committee, was delighted to see Qatar’s dreams become reality.

“Our dream started in 1997 when we organised the first meeting in this stadium,” he said. “After that, we kept hosting many meets until 2000 when we organised the Grand Prix Final. We continued our journey in 2010 when we organised the World Indoor Championships in the nearby Aspire Dome. We also organised the Diamond League meeting here and it was really good.

“We are thrilled we have been able to expand. There are generations here who are hungry to have this kind of sporting event here. Qatar is a nation of more than 100 communities. They have been able to celebrate their athletes from all around the world.”

 

Top ranked World Championships

Based on the IAAF competition performance rankings, used to rank the quality of competitions, the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 tops the list of all World Championships to date.

 

Taking the best five results and athletes from the best 24 events, the top five editions are:

 

  1. 2019, Doha – 195,869
  2. 2015, Beijing – 194,547
  3. 2017, London – 193,426
  4. 2013, Moscow – 192,664
  5. 2009, Berlin – 191,168

 

Based on the average scores of all track and field results, the top five editions are:

 

  1. 2019, Doha – 1024.75
  2. 2017, London – 1012.84
  3. 1999, Seville – 1007.98
  4. 2015, Beijing – 1004.78
  5. 2009, Berlin – 1004.55

 

There have been many outstanding performances over the 10 days of competition with unprecedented depth in many of the finals. Based on the IAAF scoring tables, the top five men’s and women’s performances are:

 

MEN

22.91m Joe Kovacs (USA) shot put – 1295pts

22.90m Tom Walsh (NZL) shot put – 1294pts

22.90m Ryan Crouser (USA) shot put – 1294pts

9.76 Christian Coleman (USA) 100m – 1291pts

43.48 Steven Gardiner (BAH) 400m – 1289pts

 

WOMEN

7.30m Malaika Mihambo (GER) long jump – 1288pts

48.14 Salwa Eid Naser (BRN) 400m – 1281pts

48.37 Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH) 400m – 1272pts

3:51.95 Sifan Hassan (NED) 1500m – 1271pts

6981 Katarina Johnson-Thompson (GBR) heptathlon – 1269pts

 

The championships have not just been about record-breaking performances, though. This edition will also be remembered for its close finishes, surprise winners, moments of fair play, and the arrival of the next generation of athletics stars.

USA’s 200m winner Noah Lyles and Germany’s decathlon victor Niklas Kaul became the youngest ever world champions in their respective events. Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh twice broke the world U20 record on her way to the silver medal in the high jump. She was one of several athletes born in or after the year 2000 who earned medals, along with Ethiopian duo Selemon Barega and Lemecha Girma and Bahrain’s Musa Isah.

The innovations – including light shows, new camera angles and increased engagement with athletes – have helped the sport reach a younger audience around the world.

Nike has decided to close down the Oregon Project less than a fortnight after coach Alberto Salazar was banned from athletics for four years.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency sanctioned Salazar, former coach of long-distance great Mo Farah, at the start of this month after he was found guilty of multiple anti-doping violations.

Nike on Friday confirmed it will continue to back Salazar with his appeal, but the Oregon Project will be brought to an end.

A company spokesperson said: "Nike has always tried to put the athlete and their needs at the front of all of our decisions.

"While the panel found there was no orchestrated doping, no finding that performance enhancing drugs have ever been used on Oregon Project athletes and went out of its way to note Alberto's desire to follow all rules, ultimately Alberto can no longer coach while the appeal is pending.

"This situation including uninformed innuendo and unsubstantiated assertions has become an unfair burden for current OP athletes. That is exactly counter to the purpose of the team.

"We have therefore made the decision to wind down the Oregon Project to allow the athletes to focus on their training and competition needs.

"We will help all of our athletes in this transition as they choose the coaching set-up that is right for them. We will continue to support Alberto in his appeal."

Japanese athlete Suguru Osako, who joined the Oregon Project four years ago, expressed his disappointment over the decision.

He tweeted: "I am sad that the dear team that made me stronger will be gone. But I will keep exploring myself and I will continue being myself.

"As Nike has expressed their commitment to continuing support as they have, my activities will not be disrupted at all."

In looking back at what they describe as an amazing IAAF World Championships of Athletics, The Commentators have come up on a question. Is Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, after adding two gold medals to her World Championships tally, the greatest female track athlete of all time?

Nia Ali was crowned 100 metres hurdles champion, while Joshua Cheptegei and Timothy Cheruiyot struck gold on the track on the final day of the World Athletics Championships in Doha.

Ali ran a personal best 12.34 seconds to take the title ahead of fellow American Kendra Harrison, with Daniella Williams claiming silver for Jamaica on Sunday.

Uganda's world cross country champion Cheptegei stayed ahead of a strong field to win the 10,000m on the last evening of action in Qatar, while Kenyan Cheruiyot became the new 1500m champion.

There was long jump gold for German favourite Malaika Mihambo, who leaped a world-leading 7.30m, and Anderson Peters of Grenada became the first man from the Americas to be crowned world javelin champion.

The USA ended the competition with back-to-back 4x400m relay triumphs and finished top of the medal table with 29 – 14 of those being gold – ahead of Kenya, with 11 medals and five titles.

 

ALI INSPIRED BY OTHER MOTHERS

Olympic silver medallist Ali emulated Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Allyson Felix and Liu Hong in winning gold within a couple of years of giving birth.

Ali, who has a four-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter, took inspiration from seeing other athletes be successful at the highest level after becoming a mother.

The two-time world indoor champion said: "This is super special. I have never won an outdoor world title, I am ecstatic.

"Shelly-Ann, Allyson, all the ladies who have come back from child birth are an inspiration for me and I am so excited to be able to pull of the world title."

 

CHEPTEGEI AND CHERUIYOT GO ONE BETTER

Cheptegei and Cheruiyot had to settle for silver in London two years ago, but went one better on this occasion.

There was always going to be a new 10,000m champion after Mo Farah ended his track career and it was Cheptegei who came away from Yomif Kejelcha on the final lap to cross the line in 26:46.37 - the second-fastest time in World Championship history.

Cheruiyot was in front from the gun to take in the 1500m and burst away to finish two seconds clear of 2012 Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi.

 

MIHAMBO LEAPS INTO NEW GROUND

The strongly fancied Mihambo was down in seventh after the second round of the long jump final, but leapt into the lead with a third jump of 7.30m.

Only the great Jackie Joyner-Kersee has been beyond that distance at a World Championships and that jump put the 25-year-old German just a centimetre short of the all-time top 10 leaps.

Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk of Ukraine and Nigerian Ese Brume won silver and gold respectively. 

 

RELAY DOUBLE FOR USA

The USA ended another superb Championships on a high note with a relay double – the women coming home well clear of Poland and Jamaica taking bronze.

Jamaica had to settle for silver behind the USA's men's quartet, while the Belgium also got on the podium.

Anderson Peters became only the second athlete in history to claim a gold medal for Grenada at the IAAF World Championships after claiming gold in the men’s Javelin on Sunday.

Jamaica Diamond League champion Danielle Williams held on for bronze behind the United States duo of Kendra Harrison and Nia Ali in the women’s 100m hurdles final on Sunday.

Williams, who had one of the best seasons of her career, entered the final as the favourite but finished third in 12.47.  Ali, who finished behind Williams with a personal best of 12.44 in the first semifinal, went on to smash that mark after claiming the gold medal in 12.34.

Kendra Harrison, the world record holder, was third after finishing behind Ali in 12.46.  Williams got away from the blocks well but never managed to pull away from a fast field and seemed to really feel the pressure with a slight wobble at the 6th hurdle.  Ali in the meantime put on a superb display of speed and near flawless hurdling.

The other Jamaicans in the race Janeek Brown and Megan Tapper ended at the back of the field.  Brown finished seventh in a time of 12.88 while Tapper did not finish, having failed to recover after crashing into the third hurdle.

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