World Champions Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Tajay Gayle were named the 2019 RJRGleaner Sports Foundation Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year in an awards ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus on Friday.

Fraser-Pryce saw the award presented to her for a fourth time, having previously claimed the honour in 2012, 2013 and 2015.  The recognition capped off an exceptional season for the diminutive sprinter who previously became the only athlete to win the 100m World Championship title on four occasions with triumph in Doha.

Quartermiler Shericka Jackson, who claimed three gold medals at the World Championships, with bronze in the 400m and 4x400m along with gold in the 4x100m, was runner up behind Fraser-Pryce.

The year was also an exceptional one for Gayle.  The athlete created history at the Doha World Championships after upstaging Juan Miguel Echevarria to claim top spot.  The winning jump was the longest in the world in 10 years.  It was also the farthest distance recorded at the World Championships since Ivan Pedroso’s 8.70m leap in Gothenburg, recorded some 24 years ago.

Fedrick Dacres, the World Championships discus silver medallist, was voted runner up to the Sportsman of the Year.  The other male nominees were Christopher Binnie (squash), Yona Knight-Wisdom (diving) and Travis Smikle (athletics).  Fraser-Pryce and Jackson were joined by Alia Atkinson (swimming) and Rushell Clayton, Natoya Goule, Shanieka Ricketts, Danniel Thomas-Dodd, Elaine Thompson and Danielle Williams.

Briana Williams has gone pro!

The 17-year-old Jamaican, who had an outstanding year in 2019, has signed a multi-year contract with Nike. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Recognized as one of the rising stars in track and field having won the sprint double at the World U20 Championships in Tampere in 2018, Williams was courted by a number of shoe companies with PUMA and Nike being the frontrunners.

Nike eventually won the right to the signature of the talented teen, whose coach Ato Boldon confirmed the signing to Sportsmax.TV.

“Briana has had people dedicated to her abilities for many years. Even before me, Coach Tennessee and Coach Damion Thomas, have done right by her,” Boldon said.

“I was just handed the baton for this leg of the race, but I’ve been around this industry a long time and for a company like Nike, who can back anyone, to put this level of support behind Briana, makes all of the work over the last five years, worth it. She is extremely blessed and fortunate to be where she is at just 17.”

Williams, who turns 18 in March, said the Nike deal has provided a platform for her to chase her dreams.

“I’m extremely proud. I have come a long way. This is a big deal for me because I’m young but I’m ready to show the world what I am capable of,” said Williams who now belongs to the group (HSI) that includes indoor 400m WR holder Mike Norman and world champions Christian Coleman and Dalilah Muhammad.

“I’m glad that Nike gave me this opportunity. It means the world to me as a girl with big dreams.”

The year 2019 was a big year for Williams. She won the 100m at the NACAC U18 Championships in Mexico and the Pan Am U20 Championships in Costa Rica during the year in which she ran unbeaten at the junior level.

She also won the Austin Sealy Award at the CARIFTA Games for the second year running after winning three gold medals, duplicating her achievements in 2018. In June, she set a Jamaican junior record of 11.02s in New Mexico.

Track & Field News, considered the bible of the sport, recognized her stellar year by naming her their High School Athlete of the Year for 2019.

The prodigious teen suffered a setback during the year when she returned an adverse finding for a banned diuretic found in her urine sample at the Jamaican National Championships in June where she finished third in the 100m behind two-time Olympic champions Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

As such, her time of 10.94s, which would have been a U18 world record and a national junior record for Jamaica, was subsequently struck from the record books.

Following a hearing before an Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel in September, Williams was reprimanded but was free to compete. However, due to how late the verdict came, her chances of competing at the 2019 World Championships in Doha were effectively dashed.

The statue of former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell will be unveiled at the National Stadium on Sunday, February 9 at 4:00 pm.

St Mary High School will be aiming to defend the boys and girls titles when the Northern Championships track and field meet gets underway at Grizzlys Plantation Grove in Priory, St. Ann on Saturday, January 25.

Four-time 100-metre world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser is among six women nominated for the prestigious Laureus Sportswoman of the Year.

Trinidadian sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye is to be stripped of medals and earnings won during the period when she committed whereabouts violations, which resulted in a two-year ban.

The 2018 Commonwealth 100m gold medallist Michelle-Lee Ahye has been banned for two years after failing to notify doping testers of her whereabouts.

Young Jamaican sprinter Briana Williams lowered her 60m personal best again at the Clemson University's Orange & Purple Elite Invitational on Saturday.

Jamaica's 17-year-old sprint sensation Briana Williams opened her 2020 season with a personal best 7.27 seconds in the heats of the women's 60m at the Clemson University's Orange & Purple Elite Invitational on Saturday.

The final is scheduled for later.

Williams' 7.27-second clocking beat her previous personal best of 7.28 seconds, a time she posted in March 2019  to beat an elite high school field at New Balance Nationals Indoor. 

Jayla Kirkland of Florida State finished second in 7.29 seconds, while Gabriele Cunningham, running unattached, was well beaten into third in 7.36 seconds.

The race not only represents the first for Williams but the first for the teenager since being found not to have been at fault by the Independent Anti-Doping Panel in September 2019 following a positive drug test.

She took an over-the-counter flu remedy during the Jamaican trials in June which had the banned diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide among its components.

The young sprinter then decided in September to withdraw from the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, a competition she had qualified for at the trials.

Williams, who is based in Florida, will next be in action at the Queen's School/Grace Jackson Invitational in Kingston, Jamaica on January 25, also over 60m.

She is also scheduled to take on a strong field with five Olympians, also over 60m,  at the 113th NYRR Millrose Games on Saturday, February 8 at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York.

Word coming out of the MVP Track Club is that Double Olympic sprint champion, Elaine Thompson Herah, will be on the track ready to defend her title in Tokyo, Japan.

Thompson Herah looked a certain possibility for a gold medal at last year’s IAAF World Championships of Athletics in Doha Qatar but inexplicably finished out of contention with countrywoman Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce going on to win an unprecedented fourth 100-metre world title.

It was later explained, that an Achilles injury that had stymied too seasons for Thompson Herah, was back and the athlete was not able to generate the kinds of speeds that saw her win the National Championships in Kingston, Jamaica in a world-leading 10.72 seconds, or the Pan American Games gold medal in Lima, Peru.

At the time, Thompson Herah’s coach, Stephen Francis, had said while the Achilles problem was a recurrent one, on this occasion, it was caused by calf tightness and that she would get over it without surgery.

Thompson Herah still managed a fourth-place finish in Doha but had to pull out of the 200 metres, for which she had already made the semi-final. She would take no further part in the tournament.

According to MVP Track Club President, Bruce James, who spoke to local newspaper, The Gleaner, Thompson Herah is looking better than just injury-free.

“Elaine has returned to training and is looking set to be in fully fit form long before the Olympics in Tokyo,” said James.

How many races it will take Thompson Herah to get back to her best is yet to be ascertained but James is still of the belief that all will be well.

That’s not a decision that is made in January but we are just pleased to know that she’s in training and looking so good,” he said.

Antiguan high jump specialist Priscilla Loomis has highlighted facing significant financial obstacles in her bid to compete for the country at this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games.

The 30-year-old athlete had previously hinted at retirement after narrowly failing to qualify for last year’s Doha World Championships.  On that occasion, the Pan Am Games silver medalist pointed to several factors that influenced her consideration, chiefly among them was a lack of available funding.

Despite the change of heart regarding her decision to continue competing for the tiny island nation, the funding issues remain.  

“It is what it is at this point. My husband and I spoke and he took out a personal loan to fund me and to make sure that I have whatever I need for funding so that was one of the biggest reasons why I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to even train, I knew I would not have been able to do it on the funding [from NOC],” Loomis told the Antigua Observer in a recent interview.

The Antigua and Barbuda National Olympic Committee (NOC) assists with the funding of elite athletes that compete for the country.  The stipend is believed to be in the region of $US 1000 per month.  Loomis, however, seems to deem the amount to not just be insufficient but more significantly not always disbursed on time.

“I know I am not the only athlete that had minimal funding and so when we sat down and put our numbers out I had to take a step back a little bit from my business, which my clients were totally okay with. So I worked four days per month to help with the rent where I lived, to train and then my husband took out the personal loan for the rest of the year to get me what I need in terms of clothing, shoes, medicine, gear, nutrition and all that.”

A motor vehicle accident in Florida last week has not slowed World Championship sprint relay gold medallist Jonielle Smith too much as the Jamaican is already back in training ahead of her bid to make the team to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

According to reports, the vehicle Smith was driving, was rear ended, causing a spin that led to a second collision.

Though the car was badly damaged, it was reported that neither Smith, nor the two family members she was travelling with, were badly injured.

Smith, a standout at high school for Wolmer’s Girls in Jamaica’s biggest track and field championships, ran the third leg on Jamaica’s gold medal 4x100-metre team at the IAAF World Championships of Athletics in Doha, Qatar last year and finished sixth in the 100-metre final there.

Smith also recently graduated from Auburn University where she also had a more-than-creditable time on the track.

Despite earning a historic World Championship silver medal and a World Athletics Diamond League win in 2019, Jamaican triple jumper Shanieka Ricketts will be tweaking her preparations for the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

According to Ricketts coach and husband, Kerry Lee Ricketts, Shanieka will be working on more technical advances to her jumping, which will mean she competes less ahead of the Olympics.

That method is in stark contrast to the way Ricketts approached last year when she had what has been her most successful season to date.

Ricketts competed in 15 meets last year but her coach says she won’t need as many this time around.

“We won’t need many meets. I think she will probably open at either the Jamaica [International] Invitational if it has a triple jump or the Racers Grand Prix,” said coach Ricketts.

Ricketts pointed out that last year, there was a lot of testing to see what worked and what didn’t.

Now that the testing is over, Ricketts says there is no need to jump as much.

“This year, it’s not so much testing, it’s more of preparation, so we’re just basically going to prepare, prepare, prepare,” he said.

Shanieka Ricketts has been hunting for marks over 15 metres, getting closer with her personal best 14.93 metres. To get there, her coach believes she needs to get her final phase right, something that while there has been improvement, accounting for consistently bigger jumps, she still hasn’t nailed down.

“We’ve been putting in a lot of work in the last phase and we haven’t gotten it yet and we still have some work to do,” said the coach.

“It’s a learning process where, you know, you learn A and then you move on to B. You can’t learn A and B at the same time,” he said.

Out with the old and in with the new.

Happy new year! Happy new decade! To your health, and to your wealth. May your future be prosperous and your family live in abundance.

Remember when we'd greet each other with such forceful cheer, way back in 2020? When Donald Trump was merely a White House tweeting machine, and not yet a challenger to Jack Nicklaus' golf majors record.

This is a message dispatched from Tuesday, January 1, 2030, and you've just swallowed the theory that the so-called former "commander-in-cheat" might legitimately win not one golf tournament but upwards of 18 against the world's elite.

The funny thing is, had it happened, perhaps it would not have been the most seismic event of the past 10 years - a turbulent, anything-goes period in sporting history.

Some will tell you sport in the 2020s reached its nadir when FIFA's executive committee needed three days of meetings before ruling out staging the 2029 Club World Cup in the cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat. You can't, it turns out, carry out urban regeneration within a nuclear exclusion zone, not even with the best will in the world and the 100% backing of CONMEBOL.

Others will look to the NFL appointing Sarah Sanders as its commissioner. Here, in any case, is an advance snapshot of the decade you're about to live through.

A 39th game in the Premier League ... and goodbye to VAR! 

By the dawn of the 2020s nobody doubted heads could be turned by great wedges of cash. The Premier League's long-mooted '39th game' finally got the green light, with an extra round of fixtures being staged in the United States in 2023 - predictably overshadowed by a routine weekend of college football.

Away from dollar-driven 'progress', 2023 also saw the VAR system abolished by incoming FIFA president and career goal-hanger Gary Lineker. No one countenanced ever speaking of VAR again.

Roger… and still not out!

Roger Federer has never added to those 20 grand slam titles he tallied in the '00s and '10s, and agonisingly he saw Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both nudge one ahead of him on the all-time list in the early 2020s. Where are Rafa and Nole now though? In an incontestable, quite glorious triumph for Team Federer, Roger is rolling on at the age of 48, a knock-in for those Wimbledon and US Open wild cards and still a fixture in Anna Wintour's wildest dreams.

In 2026, Federer partnered his 16-year-old daughter Myla Rose in mixed doubles at the Australian Open. "I've always wanted to keep going until my grandchildren have the chance to see me play, but of course so many people want to write me off," said Roger in a post-match interview.

Federer, hunting that elusive 21st major, has reached the third round of a major only twice since 2022. The year 2022, coincidentally, saw Serena Williams finally match and then pass Margaret Court's women’s tour record of 24 singles slams, immediately quitting tennis and public life at the age of 40 for a surprising second career in taxidermy. Cross the formidable Serena these days and you really can get stuffed.

Run off track

Peeved with persistent pee-test perniciousness, the plug was pulled on Olympic athletics six months out from Los Angeles 2028. To assuage the choking loss of track and field, the sport was substituted on the Memorial Coliseum stadium schedules by daily NFL games, thus guaranteeing stunning television audiences and spectacular financial success, feathering the IOC nest. The rest of the world audience, as per, embraced whatever sport in which their country had concocted a way to become world-beaters since the Tokyo Olympics. America's dominance of the shooting proved a sore point with some observers, given the successful dismantling of the NRA by President Michelle Obama's administration.

Hearn in space

'No context' in 2019, and no gravity by 2028, boxing promoter Eddie Hearn teamed up in a co-promotion with Elon Musk's SpaceX corporation to announce boxing's first showdown on the International Space Station. The Matchroom boss guffawed and called the experience "different gravy" on a recce trip, yet not one astronaut on the ISS laughed back nor posted a three-second clip straight to Twitter. Even from a height of 250 miles, the world instantly felt a better place.

Coming out was the new staying in

A host of sports stars – you'll recognise some of the names, but all in good time - came out as proud members of the LGBTQ+ community over the last decade. The enlightened public majority welcomed the healthy cultural shift that made it possible, and an ignorant minority was soon shouted down. After years of suppressing their true selves in public, this generation of athletes was able to thrive in large parts of the world. There's no punchline here, just the hope we don't screw this one up in the years ahead.

The future's female, are we nearly there yet?

How has the gender gap closed over the course of the 2020s, you wonder? Here's an answer: significantly but not sufficiently.

Sure, there's been a woman reaching the final of the darts world championship, half a dozen female Formula One drivers, Sam Kerr grabbed a handful of A-League goals when guesting for Perth Glory, and we've seen the first prominent football managers crossing over to the men’s game (Emma Hayes spent two years at Fulham, Corinne Diacre had 15 months with Lille, Laura Harvey is bossing the Seattle Sounders and Sarina Wiegman is sporting director of PSV).

The future's better: stadiums are now packed for women's World Cups in football, rugby and cricket.

Squabbling over tennis prize money calmed when grand slams cut matches across the board to best-of-three-set contests, yet achieving outright equality across the sporting spectrum will be one for the 2030s crew to take on.

And finally…

Football 'came home', with England driven to their 2026 World Cup triumph by a combination of Jurgen Klopp's astute management, Harvey Elliott's mastery of the number 10 role, and Real Madrid frontman Dominic Calvert-Lewin's irresistible finishing.

Just one more thing…

Don't believe everything you read. That last memory of the decade? Bigly fake news. To the delight of their many World Cup frenemies, the England football team is still FAILING.

The evolving world of sport means a new decade is likely to see widespread change.

With superstars like Lionel Messi, LeBron James, Roger Federer and Lewis Hamilton unlikely to be plying their trades in 2030, the stage is set for new names to come to the fore.

Omnisport's team of writers have tipped 20 20-year-olds to do just that over the next 10 years.

 

Men's football: Joao Felix

A €126m move from Benfica to Atletico Madrid made Joao Felix the second most expensive teenager in football history. His career in LaLiga is yet to truly ignite but the forward's lavish gifts are beyond doubt as he faces up to the decade when Cristiano Ronaldo will leave the stage for their native Portugal. Joao Felix is the anointed heir.

Basketball: Luka Doncic

The 2018 EuroLeague MVP and 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year, Doncic's incredible rise has continued unchecked this season – he is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 9.0 assists for the Dallas Mavericks. He should earn a first All-Star appearance this season and make his bow in the playoffs, where you would expect to see him featuring regularly in the coming years.

Cricket: Prithvi Shaw

Opening batsman Shaw became the youngest Indian to score a Test hundred on debut in 2018 and followed that up with a half-century in his second appearance. However, last year was one to forget for Shaw, who had injury problems before serving a six-month doping ban having taken a substance typically found in cough syrups. A first-class double hundred last month suggests he is ready to make up for lost time.

Tennis: Marketa Vondrousova

Although she was unable to win a title on the WTA Tour in 2019, Vondrousova was the runner-up at the French Open – one of three final appearances last year – and having risen to 16th in the world rankings she looks set to break the top 10 soon. The Czech's unorthodox playing style and penchant for drop shots makes her a particularly entertaining watch.

Formula One: Lando Norris

Norris enjoyed an excellent debut season in Formula One, helping McLaren to an impressive fourth place in the constructors' championship. After landing three straight points finishes to end the year, he carries momentum into 2020 and looks capable of challenging Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen over the next 10 years.

UFC: Chase Hooper

Featherweight Hooper was awarded a development deal after winning the second season of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series in 2018 and is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster. He improved his unbeaten mixed martial arts record to 8-0-1 by stopping David Teymur in the first round of a thoroughly impressive UFC debut in December.

American football: Trevor Lawrence

The NFL is blessed with talented young quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, but the potential star of the 2020s will not enter the league until 2021 at the earliest. Clemson's Lawrence possess the size, skill and nerve to succeed at the next level. He is still yet to lose a game in college and is one win away from back-to-back National Championships.

Sport climbing: Janja Garnbret

Sport climbing will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 and Garnbret is a favourite for success. She successfully defended her bouldering and combined titles at last year's world championships and added gold in the lead discipline. The Slovenian's tally of 14 International Federation of Sport Climbing titles is unprecedented.

Rugby league: Tom Flegler

Front-rower Flegler enjoyed a hugely promising breakthrough year with Brisbane Broncos in 2019, featuring 23 times in his maiden campaign. He has reportedly knocked back a host of lucrative offers to remain with Brisbane in 2020 and will now aim to make an even bigger impact.

Women's football: Georgia Stanway

Vastly experienced for her age, Stanway joined Manchester City from Blackburn Rovers and made her Women's Super League debut at 16 in 2015. She won her second FA Cup with a goalscoring player-of-the-match display as City beat West Ham 3-0 in 2019's Wembley final and was the youngest member of an England squad Phil Neville led to the World Cup semi-finals. If the Lionesses are to take the next step over the coming decade, expect Stanway to play a vital role.

Rugby union: Marcus Smith

Harlequins fly-half Smith is knocking on the door for full England selection after an impressive first two years of his club career. He was man of the match in last July's win over Barbarians, which fans of Eddie Jones' side will hope is a sign of things to come over the next decade.

Golf: Matthew Wolff

The PGA Tour welcomed a host of talented rookies in 2019, but Wolff may just be the best of the bunch. A standout college player with an unorthodox swing that generates enormous power, he won last July's 3M Open in only his third professional start.

MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo

After Jorge Lorenzo, the only man to defeat Marc Marquez in a MotoGP world championship, retired, and with Valentino Rossi nearing the end of his career, fans are looking to the next generation. That group looks set to be led by Quartararo, who will ride a factory-spec Yamaha for 2020 after claiming six pole positions and seven podiums in a magnificent rookie season.

Golf: Nasa Hataoka

Already fifth in the women's world rankings, Hataoka has claimed three LPGA Tour titles in the past 18 months, after becoming the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour back in 2016.

Baseball: Vladimir Guerrero Jnr

Guerrero has a lot to live up to but has already shown enough to suggest he may follow his father into baseball's Hall of Fame. Having signed for the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent in 2015, Guerrero served his time in the minors before making his debut in the Major Leagues last April. He spent the rest of his maiden season displaying the kind of power that has marked him out as a star of the future, hitting .272, mashing 15 home runs and knocking in 69 RBI. By the end of the next decade, his may well be the face of baseball.

Ice Hockey: Quinn Hughes

Hughes, who could not even debut for the Vancouver Canucks until he recovered from an ankle injury in March, is an elite defenseman who also sat top of the rookie assist chart in late December.

Swimming: Michael Andrew

This year is an Olympic one and for the first time since the 1996 Games, Michael Phelps will not be in the pool. The United States needs a new swimming hero, and the hope is that Phelps' namesake can be the next star. Andrew was the youngest US swimmer to ever turn professional when he did so at 14 and, having finished fourth in the 50 metres butterfly at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, he appears primed to be a breakout star in Tokyo.

Tennis: Denis Shapovalov

Shapovalov finished 2019 at a career-high ATP ranking of 15th, having won his first title in Stockholm. Expect his threat at the 2020 majors to be very real.

Athletics: Sydney McLaughlin

At the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, gold in the 4x400 metres relay followed silver in the 400m hurdles for McLaughlin. Only a Dalilah Muhammad world record was enough to deny her the victory.

Boxing: Joseph Adorno

Currently plying his trade in the lightweight division, Adorno was brought up in Puerto Rico and his thunderous left hook has drawn comparisons to Miguel Cotto – the great four-weight world champion hailing from that boxing-mad island. Promoters Top Rank will look to step up Adorno's level of opposition in 2020, although anyone climbing into the corner opposite a young man boasting a 14-0 record with 12 knockouts should make sure they get well paid.

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