Jamaica’s delegation to the 2019 Para Pan American Games was greeted with a welcome ceremony when they arrived at the athletes’ village in Lima, Peru on Thursday afternoon.

Dressed in black and gold with black caps the members of the delegation led by Chef de Mission, Leonie Phinn sang the national anthem and Bob Marley's "One Love" and announced their arrival with "What a gwaan, wi strong".

The receptive crowd waved miniature flags in return.

Chef de Mission Phinn presented former Peruvian athlete, Giorgio Mautino, the Mayor of the Village, with a bag in the colours of the national flag and which contained local spices, Blue Mountain coffee in addition to Jamaican clothing and headgear.

Phinn thanked Mautino for the tremendous hospitality extended to the Jamaican delegation and assured him that she was confident that the Games would be successful.

“Welcome ceremonies are always somewhat emotional for they remind you that the journey for the country now begins and the hoisting of the flag and the National Anthem embody reverence and pride, the feeling of which cannot be underscored,” said JPA President Christopher Samuda.

The Para Pan American village accommodates more than 4,000 para-athletes and officials from the Americas and Caribbean.

Local schoolboy football organisers Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) announced plans to yet again re-evaluate the structure of its historic Walker and Ben Francis knockout competitions, which had come in for some criticism last season.

The plans were announced as the details of the 2019-2020 season were revealed at the official competitions' launch at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel, in St Andrew on Wednesday. The 2019 season is scheduled to kick off on Saturday, September 7 with seven Manning Cup games and 31 daCosta Cup matches.

Digicel, in its second stint as title sponsors, last year announced that the telecommunications firm and entertainment provider would invest $75 million over three years in the urban area Manning Cup and Walker Cup Knockout competitions. Wisynco, then, announced a sponsorship package of close to $100 million, over the three years, in the rural area daCosta Cup and Ben Francis Knockout.

The 2019 season will see 129 teams competing for the six trophies. In addition to the Manning Cup and daCosta Cup, teams will also compete for the Walker Cup Knockout, Ben Francis Knockout Cup, Champions Cup, and the season-ending Olivier Shield.

The Ben Francis and Walker Cup competitions were labelled the "losers cup" as last year's format prevented top schools from competing.

Linvern Wright, who announced the structure of the competitions, pointed out that ISSA would not revert to the original format of the Walker Cup and the Ben Francis Cup.

He said, "last year we were experimenting. We listened and have made changes but will not go back to the original formats.

"The commitment continues to ensure that our players are rested for at least 72 hours between games."

For the Ben Francis Cup Knockout, teams which placed second and third in the four respective daCosta Cup quarter-final groups will contest this competition.

Last year, teams which ended third and fourth in the four respective daCosta Cup quarter-final groups contested the Ben Francis, which was a major change compared to the previous year when only the top four daCosta Cup teams competed for the title.

The Ben Francis Knockout Cup will be played in three sets of matchups in three rounds, with the second round being the semi-finals and the third round, the final. 

In the Walker Cup competition, all teams knocked out in the Round of 16 home-and-away second round tie of the Manning Cup will be involved in a playoff, with the winners matching up in a subsequent round with the third and fourth place teams in each of the two Manning Cup quarterfinal groups for four matchups.

The winners of each of those games will qualify for the semi-finals. 

Last season, the Walker Cup competition comprised the eight losers of the Manning Cup Round of 16 home-and-away knockouts;  a major change compared to former years when the seven preliminary round group winners and the best second-place teams earned the right to contest that competition.

SportsMax will be media partners and will broadcast selected matches live throughout the season.

 

Jamaica sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has targeted adding another feat to an already impressive resume and that is becoming a member of the sub-22 seconds club.

Despite being better known over her exploits over the half the distance, where she has claimed numerous world and Olympic titles, Fraser-Pryce has also proven to be more than competitive over the distance. 

An impressive performance over the half-lap event was part of a memorable triple gold medal haul at the Moscow World Championships.  With a personal best of 22.09 set in London, in 2012, Fraser-Pryce is yet to crack the 22-second mark.  The feat has been achieved by five Jamaican women to date Merlene Ottey, Elaine Thompson, Grace Jackson, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Juliet Cuthbert.

Fraser-Pryce recently completed in the event at Birmingham Diamond League where she finished in third spot behind Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith.

“One of my dreams, one of my goals is to get below 22 seconds.  It would be an honour to get below 22 seconds,” Fraser-Pryce told Nuffin Long Athletics.

“I’m not the best 200m runner but I love the opportunities I get to run the 200m.  I’m one of those persons that doesn’t back from anything unless you give me a 400m then don’t want to run it.”

Retired Jamaica international Jamal Campbell-Ryce has embarked on a career in coaching with the Colchester United under-23 team.

The 36-year-old winger, who made some 18 appearances for the Jamaica national team, is expected to work with the club’s youth players who he will mentor on a one and one basis.

Jon de Souza the club’s director of performance has tipped the Jamaican to have a positive impact on future generations.

"Jamal will be joining us as an U23s player/coach, working in training with the U18s and U23s, to play in the U23s fixtures and to mentor players on a one to one basis,” he told the club’s official website.

"He was a flair-based forward in his career, and we believe that they are often the type of players who need help within our squad to develop the right application and desire to continue to progress,” he added.

"Through his career, Jamal has learned a lot and knows that, in that position and at that young age, you have to learn to do a lot more off the ball and to apply yourself fully on and off the pitch to end up having a long life in the game.”

Jamaica world and Olympic champion Omar McLeod believes things are getting back to normal, following yet another chance in training regime.

The 25-year-old had trained with Eldrick Floreal up until late 2018 but then moved to Gary Evans at Empire Athletics in Florida.  Tony Ross at World Fastest Humans was his hurdles coach.  The athlete has since struggled, however.  Before claiming the top spot in Birmingham on Sunday, McLeod won only two hurdles races and has a season-best time of 13.12s set at the Diamond League meeting in Shanghai, China.

The athlete is, however, rumored to have joined the Tumbleweed camp of elite coach Rana Reider in Jacksonville, Florida, earlier this month and seems to be in a better frame of mind.  On Sunday, at the Birmingham Diamond League meet, McLeod clocked 13.21, well clear of the United States’ Freddie Crittenden (13.31) and Xie Wenjun (13.43).  Following the win, the athlete admitted, the target was getting in shape for the World Championships.

“It was pretty easy and felt good. It was nice to make up for what happened in London. I'm in a new environment with a new coach and I feel like I'm ready to go again,” McLeod said.


“For Doha, I need to go there in the best possible shape and not been half-bothered about it. Anything can happen and I need to go there as defending champion and be ready to compete,” he added.
“I have the Diamond League finals prior to Doha so I need to be ready for that.”

Jamaica 100m hurdler Danielle Williams continued her run of red-hot form after destroying the field to claim the women’s 100m title at the Birmingham Diamond League meet on Sunday.

In fact, the impressive Williams equaled the meeting record after stopping the clock at 12.46, well clear of American world record holder Kendra Harrison who was second in 12.66.  Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan was third in 12.71.  Another Jamaican in the race, Janeek Brown, was 5th with a time of 12.79.

Despite being satisfied with the win, Williams, who admitted that she has been focused on her race execution, was not entirely pleased with how things unfolded.

“To be honest I didn't execute that properly. I banged my knee on one of the hurdles but I came away with the win so I'm happy. It wasn't that important to win, this is another race on the way to the Diamond League finals and whether I won or lost, execution was my only focus,” Williams said following the race.

“Every time I've been racing I've been consistent with my times and that is the main thing for me.”

The result leaves Williams as the top Diamond Race qualifier after three wins for 31 points.  Harrison is next with two wins and 23 points.

Jamaica World Champion Yohan Blake is increasingly confident of hitting his best form in time for the Doha World Championships, following a narrow win to claim the men’s 100m title, at the Birmingham Diamond League meet on Sunday.

Blake just got the better of Britain's Adam Gemili, who erased a comfortable early lead by the Jamaican to ensure a photo finish.  Both athletes were clocked at 10.07 seconds but Blake was declared the winner.  The United States’ Mike Rodgers was third with a time of 10.09.  Another Jamaican in the race Tyquendo Tracey was 6th in 10.14.

  It wasn’t the fastest time, considering a barely legal +2.0 seconds but the Jamaican athlete was pleased with the result nonetheless.

"It was coming," said Blake, who suffered a career-threatening hamstring injury in 2013.

"The weather wasn't great but I'm saving the big day for the world championships and the Diamond League finals in Zurich," said Blake. "I can run faster."

Despite holding the second-fastest times ever run over both the 100m and 200m, Blake has been overshadowed by the American trio of Christian Coleman, Justin Gatlin and Noah Lyles so far this year.  Coleman was expected to take part in the Birmingham Diamond League but had withdrawn from the race earlier in the week.

 

Jamaica international Michael Hector is likely to be without regular first-team football until the next transfer window after deadline day moves to Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham collapsed.

The 27-year-old defender signed with Premier League club Chelsea in 2015 but has spent all his time on various loan spells.  Since signing for the Blues, at Stamford Bridge, the Jamaican has been loaned back to Reading to Frankfurt, Hull City, and Sheffield Wednesday.

Having clearly found himself to not be a part of new manager Frank Lampard’s plans, Hector was in talks with Sheffield Wednesday over a permanent move a few days before the close of the summer window. 

Chelsea were, however, said to want £5 million for Hector, who recently entered the final year of his contract with the club for whom he has never played a competitive fixture. 

The player came close to joining Fulham on Thursday but that move fell through.  Fulham were hopeful of landing Hector before the window closed but couldn't as they were still waiting on the agreement for Ryan Sessegnon to be completed with Tottenham.

The Cottagers were then forced to go for other targets on loan in order to comply with FFP regulations.  Hector is, however, expected to join the club in the January window.

 

Reggae Boyz striker Shamar Nicholson is moving on from Slovenian club NK Domzale after signing a contract to play for Belgian club Sporting Charleroi.

Jamaica quarter-miler Shericka Jackson put on a superb display to claim top spot in the women’s 400m at the 2019 Pan American Games on Thursday.

Jackson, who has been in superb form all season, clocked an easy looking 50.73, well clear of second-place Paola Moran of Mexico who captured silver with 51.02.  Third place went to the USA’s Courtney Okolo who stopped the clock in 51.22.

Two other Caribbean athletes in the race, Amelia Williams of Barbados and Aliyah Abrams of Guyana were 6th and 7th respectively.  Charging out of lane 5 and 6 Jackson and Okolo were quickly up on the rest of the field but it was the Jamaica who powered past at 150m before pulling away for a comfortable win down the stretch.

“It was an honour to win here tonight.  It’s the Independence weekend so this is a gift for Jamaica,” Jackson said following the race.

“I just wanted to execute the perfect race and I think my first 200 was good enough, so there and then I decided I wanted my final 200 to be perfect as well, so I ran the final 180 as quickly as I could,” she added.

Jackson also dedicated the win to the late Constantine Haughton who encourage the athlete to compete in the 400m.

Rising Jamaican sprint phenom Briana Williams has admitted the country’s reverence for the sport of track and field made it an easy decision to choose the tiny Caribbean island over the United States.

The 17-year-old Williams is considered one of the brightest up and coming prospects in the sport of athletics. In fact, the sprinter is expected to follow a long line of exceptional Jamaican sprinters, the likes of which include Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson and the legendary Usain Bolt. 

Williams was, however, born in the United States, a country that has a proud track and field legacy of its own.  For the diminutive young sprinter, however, the choice between the track and field rivals was always a straight forward one.

“I was grown up in the Jamaica tradition way.  All the time when I was watching the Olympics, I would see Bolt and Shelly-Ann winning and think I want to be like them,” Williams said recently, in a podcast with the Olympic Channel.

“America has football, baseball they are more fans of that. In Jamaica, they show support to their track athletes and I like that.  In America, there is track but it's not at the same level.  When the Jamaica athletes are at the Olympics or World Championships, there is screaming in the middle of the streets and people cheering them on.  I like that culture more,” she added.  

Boldon, the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic bronze medalist, was in complete agreement.  Like Williams, Boldon could also have represented Jamaica as he was born in Port of Spain to a Jamaican mother.

“Even me being from Trinidad and Tobago, sometimes track and field athletes, despite us having the bulk of our Olympic medals, are not as revered in Trinidad and Tobago, like it is in Jamaica,” Boldon said.

“Many times during my career, when I saw the support for Jamaican athletes, I used to saw wow maybe Jamaica should have been the place I ran for because it just matters more," he added.

Williams, the World U-20 sprint double Champion, will represent Jamaica at the Doha World Championships later this year.   

Jamaican diver Yona Knight-Wisdom’s silver medal in the 1-metre springboard event at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru may not have been a complete surprise, but the dive he used to get him on the podium was.

Knight-Wisdom, posted a video of a backward triple from the three-metre diving board, saying it was crazy to think this was his worst dive in the not-too-distant past.

“Can we just take a minute to appreciate that his used to be my worst dive on 3M,” said Knight-Wisdom.

The dive gave Knight-Wisdom 81.6 points on the 1-metre board, with one judge scoring it as a nine.

Those points went a long way to helping Knight-Wisdom, Jamaica’s first Olympic diver, to 429.90 overall points and a silver medal.

“Someone tell me how that’s possible please,” said Knight-Wisdom, who takes on the 3-metre event today.

Knight-Wisdom received congratulations from the Jamaica Olympic Association and minister of sport, Olivia Grange.

Grange said: Yona himself said his silver medal was a fitting gift for Jamaica on Emancipation Day and on behalf of the nation I wish to thank him for his historic performance.”

Knight-Wisdom is the first diver to ever win a medal at the Pan Am games for Jamaica.

Another medal came Jamaica’s way at the Pan Am games through an unlikely source, as super heavyweight boxer, one of the few from the island, Ricardo Brown, mined bronze.

This wasn’t the first-ever for Jamaica, but it is the first in 16 years.

The Jamaica Olympic Association and Jamaican trainer Dewith Frazer, were credited with helping to achieve the feat, as the two came together to put on a one-month training camp for Brown in the United States that went a long way to making him more prepared.

"At that gym, Ricardo was able to work with boxers in his weight class and this helped him a great deal because in Jamaica there is a scarcity of boxers in that weight category,” said Leroy Brown, Jamaica Boxing Board General Secretary.

MLS All-Stars Andre Blake and Kemar Lawrence are hoping to pave a path for future generations of Jamaican players, after creating history at this year’s edition of the All-Star Game.

The duo's appearance in a match-up against Spanish La Liga team Atletico Madrid will mark the first time two Jamaicans have been selected on the same All-Stars team.

 Blake, the Jamaica national team captain, and Lawrence, once of its best defenders, represent a growing list that opted to play their football in North American as opposed to heading straight to the European leagues.

The list, which includes the likes of Alvas Powell, Darren Mattocks, and Peter-Lee Vassell are crucial cogs in Jamaica national team that has made it to three straight Gold Cup semi-finals and two finals.

“It should motivate the kids back there to help them to believe the sky is the limit,” Blake told Pro Soccer USA. “And they just have to keep working hard, worry about nothing and everything will take care of itself,” he added.

“It definitely brings a lot of inspiration.  Even those who did not believe are starting to believe right now. That’s always a good thing for me. I always want to inspire youths, to have them believe in their dreams and believe that anything is possible. For me and him, it’s definitely a big thing. We have to keep going and keep knowing that the sky is the limit and understand there are always younger generations that are looking up to us.”

 

 

Jamaica Under-23 coach Donovan Duckie has called the team that was recently eliminated CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifiers as one of the worst physically prepared he has coached.

Despite being heavy favoured to advance to the next round of the competition, the Jamaicans were surprisingly eliminated after draws with St Kitts and Nevis and Dominica.

 In the face of mounting criticism in the wake of the team’s failure to qualify, the coach recently revealed that the unit faced major shortcomings in terms of its physical preparation.

“I’ve been accused of being an antagonist and a person that lacks diplomacy.  So for months, I have been saying on several interviews that everything is ok with the Under-23 program,” a leaked voice note identified as Duckie claimed.

In my last interview, I said I took full responsibility for the failure of the team to progress but to tell you the truth this isn’t so, the responsibility has to be shared,” he added.

“When I took the job there were certain conditionalities, one was that the JFF provide a physical trainer. For over eight months a physical trainer has only come to a training session for three days. I can say that this is the worst physically team I have ever seen in my entire life…we cannot play competitively for over 60 minutes in any game and these are the results.”

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has confirmed its knowledge of the recordings and have promised to launch an investigation into the matter before an appropriate response of made.

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