Tokyo 2020 Preview: The legend of Michael Johnson

By Sports Desk June 13, 2019

This feature takes a look at the legacy of legendary quarter-miler Michael Johnson.

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  • Upgraded and disrespected: Jamaican Olympians said they feel slighted by local bosses Upgraded and disrespected: Jamaican Olympians said they feel slighted by local bosses

    Six Jamaican Olympians, who collected upgraded silver medals during the Mueller Anniversary Games in London on Sunday, said they were honoured to have their bronze medals from the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games upgraded but were greatly disappointed that no Jamaican officials were on hand for what was a special moment for them and the country they represented.

    The women said they feel slighted because no Jamaican official accompanied them to the United Kingdom last week to collect their medals. They say they had mismatched uniforms, there was no one to greet them at the London Stadium, no one knew they were getting the medals and to date, no one has sent a congratulatory message.

    One of the women who chose to remain unidentified said that when they arrived at the stadium on Sunday they saw Sprintec head coach Maurice Wilson, who seemed surprised to see them and asked why they were there. This, she said, suggested that not even the Jamaican coaches and athletes who were there knew that the women were going to have their medals upgraded on the day.

    It is almost as if, they said, nobody cares about them once their careers are over.

    The two teams had their medals upgraded due to doping sanctions handed to the silver medal-winning teams of Russia from both Games.

    Shereefa Lloyd, Shericka Williams, Rosemarie Whyte-Robinson, Novlene Williams-Mills and Bobby-Gaye Wilkins collected silver medals for the mile relay in 2008 while Christine Day, Lloyd, Whyte-Robinson, Williams and Williams-Mills, collected silver medals for 2012.

    Both teams received their medals on Sunday, July 21 on the final day of the Mueller Anniversary Games held in London. Two-time Olympic champion Mr Pal Schmitt, a member of the International Olympic Committee, presented the medals.

    “For me personally it was an honour that after all these years we got our medals upgraded but the biggest part for me was that all these ladies that have run in the past were able to make the trip. For me, sharing that experience with them again was wonderful,” said Williams-Mills, who now has three Olympic silver medals and a bronze.

    “For the Mueller Anniversary Diamond League to even extend that opportunity for us to come there and receive our medals, for the IOC to make sure that we rightfully got those medals after we started the process a year ago with the JOA, for them to accommodate us and make sure we feel the love is wonderful.”

    She said it was also great that there were able to bring a few family members with them to witness them receive their medals enjoy a fun day watching Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce storm to 10.78 in the 100m, Akeem Bloomfield win the 400m in a season-best 44.40 and Rushell Clayton win the 400m hurdles in a personal-best 54.16.

    “That was really good,” she said.

    On the other side of the occasion is that that so few knew that they were going to be in London to collect those medals nor was there any representation from Jamaica.

    “We didn’t have a representative from Jamaica, from the JOA, no one. I feel disappointed,” Williams-Mills said.

    “For many years I represented Jamaica at the highest level. I have represented Jamaica at four Olympics at the highest level, World Championships at the highest level. I’ve made multiple Jamaica teams and for not one person from the JOA or in sports was able to make sure everything went smoothly and to ensure that we were taken care of was really disappointing.”

    She said that no one from the JOA or JAAA to congratulate them and to ensure that everything went well was a slap in the face.

    Lloyd said everything worked out in the end but, “Yes, I think official should have been there because it was difficult to get information about tickets and credentials to go to the stadium,” she said.

    “Once we got to the stadium it was also a bit confusing because we didn’t have much direction or guidance. I also did not like the fact that we did not get the logistics about the trip until the day before we travelled. But overall, it wasn’t a bad trip and I do take into consideration that the time to prepare for the trip was short.”

  • McIlroy's Olympics U-turn fuelled by fear of regret McIlroy's Olympics U-turn fuelled by fear of regret

    Rory McIlroy admits the fear of regret fuelled his change of heart over competing at the Olympics.

    The Northern Irishman is on home soil for this week's 148th Open Championship, having caused a stir with comments he made at the same major three years ago.

    At Royal Troon, ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, McIlroy suggested he would not even bother to watch the golf competition, which ended up being won by Ryder Cup team-mate Justin Rose.

    Despite his dismissive tone then, McIlroy - who initially cited the Zika virus as the reason for his absence from Brazil - had clearly shifted his stance when he addressed the issue at Royal Portrush on Wednesday as he now has Tokyo 2020 firmly in his sights.

    "I think personally I needed to do a lot of inner thought and ask, 'Is this important to me? Why do I want to play it? Who do I want to represent?' All that sort of stuff," he said, with his decision apparently complicated by whether he would turn out for Ireland or Great Britain.

    "At the start whenever I was thinking of playing the Olympics, I think I let other people's opinions of me weigh on that decision. And at the end of the day, it's my decision. I can't please everyone. 

    "The only people that really care about who I play for, who I represent, don't mean anything to me. I don't care about them.

    "So at the end of the day, I think with where golf is, with it being part of the Olympic movement, I think if I had to look back on my career and not played in one, I probably would have regretted it. 

    "So that was part of the reason I wanted to go, for the experience, as well. It's going to be - it's a wonderful experience. I've never done anything like that before.

    "And it's in Japan. I enjoy Japan. I enjoy the people. I enjoy the food. So it will be a nice week."

    The 30-year-old is going in search of a second Claret Jug and fifth major, having not won one of golf's four landmark events since 2014.

  • Simmons to skip World Cup, will play Australia-USA exhibition games Simmons to skip World Cup, will play Australia-USA exhibition games

    Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons will not play for Australia at this year's FIBA World Cup, though he will feature in exhibition games against the United States.

    After initially making himself available for August's World Cup in China, Simmons announced on Tuesday that he will skip the tournament and instead focus on the upcoming NBA season with the 76ers.

    While he is set to sit out the World Cup, Simmons will travel to Australia for a pair of games against Canada in Perth on August 16 and 17 before facing Team USA in Melbourne on August 22 and 24.

    "I wanted to let everyone know that after consulting with my representation, I've made the difficult decision to forego playing in the World Cup in China this summer," Simmons – who has signed a new five-year contract with the 76ers – said in a statement via Twitter.

    "I will still be heading back home to Australia to host my camps as well as train and play with the Boomers in the upcoming exhibition games.

    "I'm really excited about the talent we have on the Boomers squad, especially moving close to 2020 where I will be honoured and humbled to represent my country on the world's biggest sporting stage at the Olympics in Tokyo.

    "Ultimately, we decided it was best that I use the time in September to return to Philadelphia to acquaint myself with my new team-mates and prepare for the upcoming NBA season."

    The 76ers selected Simmons with the first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and he has played a large role in the team's resurgence as an oversized, do-it-all playmaker.

    Philadelphia put together one of the most talented starting line-ups in basketball last season, featuring Simmons, Joel Embiid, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris as they finished third in the Eastern Conference before falling to the Toronto Raptors in the second round.

    The 76ers lost Butler and Redick this offseason, but acquired Josh Richardson and Al Horford, giving them tremendous defensive potential.

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