Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

A burning desire to leave the sport in better shape than when she found it was the driving force behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s decision to become a board member of the newly formalized The Athletics Association.

Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz captain Konya Plummer feels honoured to among the more than 600 female athletes nominated for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

Several Caribbean athletes including Olympic champions Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shaunae Miller-Uibo will comprise a 24-member board of the now formally established The Athletics Association (TAA) that will look out for the best interests of track and field athletes across the globe.

The AA was formed in response to the calls from athletes worldwide for independent representation. “The objective of The Athletics Association is to provide Track and Field athletes with a meaningful voice, to fight for stronger athletes’ rights, and to seek an athletes-first approach to our sport,” the association said in a statement released today.

The Athletics Association aims to engage in positive dialogue with the sport’s governing body, World Athletics, and their own athletes’ commission, but will, of course, hold World Athletics to account when necessary and challenge them if they are not acting in the best interest of the athletes.

Fraser-Pryce, who last year, won an unprecedented fourth World 100m title in Doha, Qatar, sits on the board representing the sprints while Miller-Uibo, the 2016 Olympic 400m champion and 2019 400m silver medallist, represents the Americas alongside Mikel Thomas from Trinidad and Tobago.

Four-time World triple jump champion Christian Taylor is the association’s president and steeplechaser Emma Coburn is the vice president.

According to the association’s statement, they have been busy developing a number of support services and member benefits for athletes, including a hardship grant fund, training courses, and discounts on products.

Details of the full annual membership package will be announced ahead of the full roll-out in January 2021.

Chief among their initial goals, TAA said, is the intention to lobby World Athletics and the Diamond League stakeholders regarding the changes to the Diamond League schedule that were announced for 2020. Those changes included removing the 200m, triple jump and discus from the Diamond League circuit relegating those events to a newly formed Continental Series.

“We will offer suggestions and alternatives that would include all stadium disciplines, and would benefit athletes and fans, as well as the long term interests of this diverse and wonderful sport,” the statement said.

They also want to gain a seat at the table with World Athletics to command real involvement and power when it comes to decision-making in the sport, as they look to amplify the voices of its members and athletes all over the world.

They also plan to announce an Athletics Association’s welfare charter, highlighting their commitment to improving the conditions for athletes across a range of issues as well as solidify a membership package that will begin in January 2021 and will offer access to courses on issues such as financial literacy and life after athletics, and also discounts on products.

Critically, they also plan to present World Athletics with innovative ideas for the growth of the sport.

 “I am very proud of the progress made by the members of the Athletics Association Board. Since its initial inception, a lot of work has been put in to establish the right governance and long-term viability that is essential to do justice to the athletes we represent. It’s this that has attracted the commitment and support of the athletes on the Board. We have athletes from every continent, and a wide variety of disciplines; we are made up of Olympic and World champions, as well as world record holders and continental champions, “ said AA President Taylor.

 “In addition to the board members, there are so many other athletes who have helped get us to this stage. World Athletics recently published a strategic plan, and athletes have been identified as key stakeholders. The Athletics Association provides a representative voice and a simple way for the sport’s governing body to follow through on their commitment. We are ready to contribute to the growth of the sport that we love, ensuring that athletes are part of the decision-making process.  This association is for the athletes, by the athletes, and we are determined to make a real difference. We firmly believe that we can affect positive change in our sport. We are ready for the challenge.”

The Athletics Association has also agreed to a strategic partnership with Global Athlete, a progressive athlete start-up movement aiming to inspire greater athlete representation in organisations across the world of sport. The partnership brings together two organisations with similar values to collaborate on projects, share insights and drive change that will ultimately benefit the athletes and the sport.

“Global Athlete is proud to be a partner with the Athletics Association. Establishing an independent association is a critical step in enhancing athletes’ rights. It is so important for athletes to have their own representation” said Rob Koehler, Global Athlete Director-General.

 “The sport of athletics needs to find a new and exciting path for success. This success can only be possible with real meaningful athlete engagement. Athletes have the desire to further grow the sport while at the same time ensuring the utmost care is given to athletes’ rights. Together we are stronger.” said Emma Coburn, The Athletics Association Vice-President.

 The Athletics Association Board is made up of representatives from every continent and comprises 24 athletes, including individual global champions: Christian Taylor (President) Emma Coburn (Vice-President), Allyson Felix, Ashton Eaton, Julius Yego, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Tianna Bartoletta and Tom Walsh.

 

Natalliah Whyte doesn’t remember much about her gold medal performance at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. She does remember the feeling of winning and it has been driving her on to win another medal at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan next year.

On the eve of the second #Raisethebat Test match between the West Indies and England and Old Trafford on Thursday, West Indies Jason Holder is backing Shai Hope to eventually come good with the bat.

Track and field legend Usain Bolt has revealed that he will not force his daughter Olympia into athletics, saying the pressure of living up to his legacy might simply be too much.

At the prompting of former Jamaica and West Indies batsman Lawrence Rowe, West Indies Captain Jason Holder has revealed that he intends to move higher up the Caribbean side’s batting order in the near future.

Caribbean student-athletes and coaches are breathing a collective a sigh of relief following the decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to rescind a policy directive that would have forced them to leave the country if their universities moved their classes online because of the Covid19 pandemic.

Supreme Ventures and Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) announced on Monday that purses for the 1000 and 2000 Guineas will be lower this year but in response, it will add an additional $800,000 to their usual contribution.

The races that will be run on Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26 respectively, are the first classics of the 2020 racing season and will showcase 3-year-old fillies for the 1000 Guineas and colts and geldings for the 2000 Guineas competing over 1600 metres.

The purse for each classic race stands at JMD $2.8 million with SVREL footing the entire bill.

 “Last year SVREL had fronted $2 million with sponsors providing $1.5 million,” said  SVREL General Manager Lorna Gooden. “However, due to the impact of COVID19, companies were reluctant to come on board as they tighten their belts to handle the financial fallout of the pandemic.”

 

Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) will be allowed to recover operational costs racked up by the promotions company during the COVID19-related shutdown, from race purses under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with industry regulators.

After not competing for nine months, 2016 Olympic double gold medallist, said she felt rusty after finishing second at the Velocity Fest track meet held at Jamaica College in Kingston on Saturday.

Thompson, 28, led down the home stretch in the 200m before World Championship 400-metre bronze medallist Shericka Jackson overhauled her late to cross the finish line in 22.89.

Thompson clocked 22.98 for second while Sprintec’s Shashalee Forbes was third in 23.45.

Though she may have been disappointed at losing, Thompson seemed quite content if her Instagram is anything to go by.

“Back on the track after 9 months is a good feeling,” the 2015 World Championship silver medallist said.

“I am a little rusty but a girl is to take on any obstacles in her way.”

The 200m race was also her first race since she married track coach Deron Herah on November 2, 2019.  “Am racing as a wife for the first time am so happy,” she said.

“Lord you are worthy. I hope for nothing but health and healing.”

Illness and injury have blighted the career of the 2019 Pan Am Games 100 champion. Along with MVP teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser, Thompson was among the favourites to win a medal in the 100m finals in Doha. This was especially true after she stormed to victory at the Jamaican National Championships in June.

Her winning time of 10.73 was the fastest in the world and was only surpassed by Fraser-Pryce on her way to an unprecedented fourth world title in Doha. Thompson, meanwhile, aggravated a long-running Achilles-related injury and finished fourth in 10.93.

She will be hoping that she will find better fortune at the Tokyo Olympics scheduled for July 2021.

Competing at the American Track League meeting on Saturday was a release for Natalliah Whyte, the 2019 sprint relay gold medallist.

Amidst all the excitement and celebration surrounding the West Indies’ four-wicket win over England on Sunday, fans of the Caribbean side might have missed out on something else to celebrate.

I have to admit that when Jason Holder was appointed captain of the West Indies Test team in September 2015, I was sceptical. At 23, having made his Test debut just over a year earlier, in June 2014, he was so young – the second youngest Test captain for the West Indies, and too inexperienced to be leading a side that had picked up a terrible habit of losing Test matches and losing them badly.

Between 2011 and 2016, the West Indies played 52 Tests in 20 series. They won only 13 of those matches, lost 27 and managed 12 draws. Those victories saw five series wins and 13 losses. Things were grim and in my opinion, was too much for a youngster who while talented, was still learning the game.

However, over the ensuing five years, many things have changed. In Holder’s first 11 Tests as captain, the West Indies lost eight and drew three of them. In his last 22 including Sunday’s win against England, Holder’s team has won 11 Test matches, lost nine and drawn two.

This latest win pulls him ahead of Brian Lara and into a tie with Richie Richardson as West Indies captains with the most Test wins. Only Clive Lloyd with 36 wins in 74 Tests and Sir Vivian Richards with 27 wins in 50 Tests have more. Richardson’s 11 wins came in 24 matches.

During that time the soft-spoken captain has seen his stocks rise. In July 2014, Holder was 91st in the ICC Test rankings, a year later he had risen to 45 in the rankings. By July 2017, he had climbed to 36 in the rankings and ninth in 2019.

As of today, Holder is the number-two ranked Test bowler in the world.

His batting has also had a significant impact on the fortunes of the side he leads.

Holder scored his maiden Test century against England in April 2015 and since then scored two more centuries and eight fifties averaging a healthy 32.49, considering how low he bats. This fact, along with his improved bowling has seen him become the number one Test all-rounder in the world.

With Holder in the team, the West Indies bowling attack averages a wicket every 32.79 runs. Without him, they take a wicket for every 40.38 runs scored. His impact with the bat is also significant. With him in the team, the West Indies scored an average of 26.34 runs for every wicket they lose. Without him, that number drops to 19.35.

In essence, without Holder, the West Indies bowling team concedes 75.9 more runs per inning while making 69.9 fewer runs per inning. What this math is telling you is that the West Indies are 145 runs worse off when he does not play, especially since he was given the captaincy.

This statistic takes on even greater significance when you consider that since January 1, 2017, the West Indies have won 80 per cent of Test matches (8 of 10 played) in which they have restricted the opposing team to a first-innings score of fewer than 250 runs.

During that same period, the West Indies have won 69 per cent of Test matches or 9 of 13 when they score 250 runs or more in their first innings.

The Test match that concluded on Sunday supports these figures as Holder’s match-changing 6 for 42 restricted England to 204. The West Indies replied with 318 even though Holder’s contribution with the bat was just five runs, it was his bowling that put the West Indies in a position of strength on Day 2, a position they did not relinquish for the duration of the match.

Without him, things can be much different. Since he was appointed, Holder has missed five Tests. The West Indies lost all five.

In August 2017, when England clobbered the West Indies by an innings and 209 runs at Edgbaston, the already beleaguered captain was under even greater pressure to relinquish the captaincy to someone with more experience; someone who the very fickle Caribbean public would find more tolerable.

It was a particularly difficult time for the young Barbadian.

“It’s not easy. We haven’t had the best results over the last few years but I enjoy it,” he said in an interview then revealing the steel that lies beneath the much softer façade the world sees.

“I don’t shy away from it and I don’t think I’d ever give it up. There might be a situation where people want to move on from me but I can’t control that.

“The one thing I can control is trying to get the best out of each and every individual in the dressing room and I try my best to do that. One thing I’ve said to myself is that when I leave here just leave some kind of mark on it. So far, the guys have been quite receptive and helped me out tremendously. It is a young group; we’re trying to learn as fast as we possibly can under the circumstances we’re faced with.”

It’s instructive that since then Holder has led the West Indies in five more Tests against England. He has won four.

The evidence is there, the West Indies are better with Holder in the team and at its helm. And, as he continues to improve in all areas, I suspect his impact on the team will be even greater.

For years, West Indies fans have been divided over when the team will finally turn that never-ending corner and return to winning ways, or at the very least, winning more consistently. What I do know for certain, is that with Holder leading this team, that corner might be finally be turned sooner rather than later.

*Statistics provided by Zaheer Clarke.

 

 

 

 

The Jamaica Paralympian Association has challenged made by Jamaica’s Sports Minister Olivia Grange over she claims she made as to the reason why they have not received funding under the government’s Athletes Assistance Programme.

On February 9, 2020, Minister Grange said that the Athletes Assistance Programme would commence on March 1, 2020, and continue into mid-July. The athletes who were eligible were those who had qualified or were on the brink of qualifying for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

The minister also said that athletes in the programme would receive JMD $20,000 per week towards their preparation. That money was to be disbursed on a monthly basis. However, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government announced that the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games had been postponed, the ministry suspended the programme.

The ministry announced on March 24, that it would commit to paying out sums under the Athletes Assistance Programme up to the end of March.

However, in a recent statement released from the ministry, the minister said; “Our Paralympians had not yet begun training when the decisions to postpone the Tokyo Games and suspend the Athletes Assistance Programme were taken and therefore not eligible to receive payment under the programme"

The JPA disputes the claim.

“Our athletes commenced background training for the Paralympic Games in December 2019 in keeping with standard and globally accepted practices respecting athletes' preparation and conditioning for games in the ensuing year,” the JPA said in a statement on Monday.

“It has never been the practice of the JPA to have our athletes commence training for the Paralympic Games (or any championship or tournament) four or five months before the staging of the Games which is an inference to be drawn from the statement attributed to the Honourable Minister.

“Consequently, at no time did the JPA advise anyone in March of this year or at any other time that our athletes had not begun training for the Paralympic Games which was originally scheduled for August of this year.”

According to the JPA, its athletes, since December 2019, had been pursuing their respective training programmes and were in high gear in March 2020. Some, it said, had even participated overseas in qualifying regional and international tournaments in their bid to qualify for the Paralympic Games.

They have also continued to train.

“Since the announcement of the postponement of the Paralympic Games, our athletes have continued, albeit on a limited scale, in training. The JPA, therefore, cannot appreciate the basis of the statement attributed to the Honourable Minister,” the JPA said.

 

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