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.

Former West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan has been appointed to lead the senior selection panel of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB). His appointment is one several made at a meeting of the newly elected board on Saturday night.

At the meeting, which was the second held since the March 29 elections, and chaired by President B Bissoondyal Singh, several sub-committees were established for senior selection, junior selection as well as for cricket development, finance and public relations.

Sarwan will head the senior panel while Andre Percival, the most successful youth captain in the West Indies, will head the junior selection panel. Vice President Hilbert Foster will lead cricket development, Claude Raphael, the Public Relations Committee while Acting Treasurer Dr Cecil Beharry, heads up the Finance Committee.

Also arising from the meeting was the GCB decision to make available several positions on the different committees for the Essequibo Cricket Board.

 

Chris Gayle was among the runs as the Punjab Kings defeated the Rajasthan Royals by four runs in a thriller in Mumbai today.

Natalliah Whyte was well pleased with her 100m outing at the Miramar South Florida Invitational on Saturday but she is hoping that she will go much faster as the season progresses. Whyte was third in 11.16 behind runaway winner Sha’ Carri Richardson, who ran a jaw-dropping 10.72s, the fastest time in the world this year.

The 23-year-old Jamaican, who ran the lead-off leg for Jamaica’s gold medal-winning 4x100 relay team at the World Championships in Doha in 2019, had run even faster in the preliminary round clocking 11.07s, her season-best.

However, taking the two races together, Whyte said she was happy with the overall performance.

“The first 100 metres of the season after not competing or doing much due to Covid this time last year, and with a time of 11.07 in the heats and 11.16 in the finals, I am satisfied,” she told Sportsmax.TV following her race.

She explained that the races were meant to provide her and her coach with indicators of what her progress is this season.

“It’s really just taking each race at a time and finding out my weak points and working on those so I can put everything together to get that perfect race,” said Whyte, who trains with Puma MVP International at their base at the Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

“I was hoping to go faster in the final run but, as I said, the race wasn’t perfect but there is still room for improvement. It’s the first race of the season and I think everything will come together as I move forward.”

Whyte did not compete indoors during the winter but does not believe it had any impact on her performances outdoors where she has run two 200m races recording times of 22.88 and 23.28 on March 20 and April 4, respectively.

“Not competing indoors doesn’t give you that early push that pushes you into outdoor. So basically, just training doesn’t give you a true benchmark of where you would want to be,” she explained.

“Competing with world-class athletes is what really sets the standard for what to work on and to just see where you are in your progress. So this meet was a great meet. It had a lot of world-class athletes so it was a true test of progress.”

Having run both short sprints so far this season begs the question, does she plan to compete at both at the Olympic this summer should she qualify at her national championships set for June? Whyte said it’s too early to say.

“Both events complement each other so at the moment I am using each event to get better at the other. The 200m really helps with speed endurance but eventually, when it gets closer to that time, my coach and I will decide based on how the season progresses, what will be best,” she said.

“At the moment, I am delighted for the opportunity to compete. I haven’t run the 200 consistently for the past few years so I am just trying to familiarize myself with the event again. So it’s really a learning process as I go along.  I am also trying to stay injury-free, which is my number one goal.”

Commenting on Richardson's phenomenal time, Whyte said: "Richardson's run was spectacular, she’s a very talented athlete."

 

Texas A&M's Tyra Gittens was super excited about her new personal best in the heptathlon this weekend but acknowledged that there is still room for a lot of improvement. This is especially true if he wants to achieve her goal of competing in the multi-event discipline at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

The 22-year-old Trinidadian, the 2021 NCAA pentathlon champion competing in her first heptathlon is more than two years scored an NCAA-leading 6274 points after completing the seven events at the Texas A&M Invitational held at Bryan-College Station in Texas on Friday and Saturday.

She won all four disciplines in windy conditions on Friday. She opened up with a time of 13.14 in the 100m hurdles for 1103 points, cleared 1.82m in the high jump, scoring 1003 points and won the shot put with a throw of 12.85m that earned her 717 points. In the final event of the day, she won the 200m sprint in 23.33, scoring 1046 points.

She returned on Saturday morning winning the long jump with a leap of 6.67m that earned her 1062 points. She only managed 631 points for the javelin and then rounded out the competition with a 2:28.52 run in the 800m for 712 points.

“Mood for a huge personal best, new school record, and an NCAA leading 6274 points in my first heptathlon in forever! Still so much to work on and I can’t wait to recover and get back into training” she posted on Instagram afterwards, very much aware of the work that she needs to get done if she is to book a ticket to Tokyo.

The 6247 points she scored is still 173 shy of the Olympic qualifying standard of 6420 points.

 

The youth of the CARIFTA region were treated to an excellent performance by Alex Sobers of Barbados who hit three Tokyo Olympic B times at the ISCA International Senior Cup.

World Championship long jump finalist Chanice Porter jumped a personal best 6.77m to finish third in the long jump at the Spec Town Invitational in Georgia on Friday.

Porter, who had a previous best of 6.75 set in 2018 hit the mark with her first jump which she followed up with 6.60. Her finally jump was a creditable 6.48m.

However, while she opened with a personal best, she was second after the first round as Jasmine Moore got 6.83m on her first jump.

Both women then fell to second and third, respectively as Kendall Williams won the event with her personal best effort of 7.00m.

The 26-year-old Porter needs a mark of 6.82m to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

 

Track and field coach and broadcaster Ato Boldon believes the USA’s Sha’ Carri Richardson is now favoured to break Jamaica’s stranglehold on the Olympic 100m title this summer, following her jaw-dropping 100m run at the Miramar South Florida Invitational on Saturday.

World long-jump champion Tahjay Gayle and silver medalist Danielle Thomas-Dodd were the only winners on a day of mixed results for Caribbean athletes at the Miramar South Florida Invitational at the Ansin Sports Complex on Saturday.

Roger Harper, Cricket West Indies’ Chief Selector has expressed concern over the productivity of opening partnerships for the West Indies but laments the fact that no one is really knocking at the door to be selected.

Captain Kraigg Brathwaite has had a welcome return to form with two Test half-centuries and a century in his last four Test matches but fellow opener John Campbell has not been inspiring much confidence with his performances.

The Jamaican has scores of 3, 23, 36, 18, 42, 11, 5, and 10 in his last four Tests. His last half-century, 68, was made in the second Test against New Zealand in December last year.

As a result, solid opening partnerships for the Caribbean side have been rare and this is a worry for Harper.

 “I think it has been a concern for a while. It was pleasing to see the captain get some big scores, but we need the partnership, on the whole, to be solid,” Harper said this past week on Mason and Guest.

But while Campbell has been struggling for form, Harper acknowledges that the batsman has been working hard to correct his flaws, like the ones that saw him get out in similar fashion in all four innings in the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka.

 “We were delighted to see Campbell applying himself and being more patient, but we need some more positive returns,” he said.

There are several players who could come in to bolster the batting but recent history does not offer much hope for success. Players like Shai Hope and Shayne Moseley are potential replacements; Hope especially who has shown a welcome return to form in the ODIs against Sri Lanka, but Test cricket is a different prospect for a player who has struggled in that format of the game.

Moseley, who has shown promise, is yet to demonstrate that he is ready after several failures.

“It is something we are looking at. We are looking at our best options. At the moment, from a red ball perspective, we don’t have enough openers who are knocking down the door in terms of performances,” he concluded.

 

After being at loggerheads over wages for the past few weeks, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the Reggae Boyz have reached a contractual agreement that now allows the focus to return to the coming CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Haiti will take on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Guatemala faces Guyana while Trinidad and Tobago will go up against Monserrat when Round One of the preliminaries of the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off on July 2 and 3 at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Florida.

Cuba will tackle French Guiana, Guadeloupe will battle The Bahamas and Bermuda go up against Barbados in what will be the first time ever that the competition will have preliminaries that will see three teams qualify for the 16-team Group Stage.

“We look forward with great anticipation to this summer’s Gold Cup, which will undoubtedly be enhanced by this new Preliminary Round,” said Concacaf President and FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani.

“The past year has been very challenging in our region and our thoughts are with all the communities that have suffered. We hope the opportunity to watch the best men’s national teams in Concacaf compete in our flagship tournament can provide fans with some hope and enjoyment

All 12 of the competing nations in the Prelims will get a full Gold Cup experience at the excellent Inter Miami facilities and we look forward to a great set of games.”

“We look forward to hosting the Gold Cup Prelims tournament in our stadium,” said Inter Miami CF Managing Owner Jorge Mas. “Our facilities in Fort Lauderdale were built with the intent of giving our fans opportunities to enjoy the world’s game knowing that our vibrant culture and sports-centric region would be attractive for global teams and competitions. This is just the beginning of the great things that lie ahead.”

Round Two will begin on July 6 when the winner of the Haiti/St Vincent clash will take on the winner of the Bermuda/Barbados matchup. The winner of the Guatemala/Guyana encounter will play the winner of the Guadeloupe/Bahamas match. And finally, the winner of the Cuba/French Guiana match will tackle the winner of the Trinidad and Tobago/Montserrat clash.

The winning nation in each of the three Round Two matchups will advance to the Group Stage of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, where they were drawn into Group A, B and C as follows:

Group A: Mexico, El Salvador, Curacao, and Winner Prelims 9

Group B: USA, Canada, Martinique, and Winner Prelims 7

Group C: Costa Rica, Jamaica, Suriname, and Winner Prelims 8

Group D: Honduras, Panama, Grenada, and Qatar.

The 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage will kick off on July 10 and run through August 1, 2021, and will feature 16 national teams, of which Canada, Costa Rica, Curaçao, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, eight-time and defending champion Mexico, Panama, Suriname, six-time champion the United States, are already qualified to the group stage of the tournament. Additionally, Qatar has been invited to the tournament as the current champion and representative of the Asian Football Confederation.

The remaining three countries will qualify through the Gold Cup Prelims, in which 12 Member Associations will compete for the final three spots, to be played July 2-6- at Inter Miami CF Stadium in South Florida.

 

 

The Jamaican government will provide more than JMD$45 million in direct financial support to athletes preparing for this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

The global pandemic has been frustrating for many athletes, who have been unable to compete and consequently earn their keep. However, for some it is an opportunity to hone their craft, to become even better than they were before.

Such is the case of World Championship silver medalist Shanieka Ricketts, who uncorked a world-leading 14.63m triple jump at the National Stadium in Kingston on March 20.

The mark was 13cm shy of her best ever opener of 14.76m in 2019, and 30cm off her personal best, but it was an early indication of how much she had worked to improve in the time she was unable to compete in 2020 because of the many cancellations of track and field meets as the Covid-19 virus raced across the world.

Ricketts, who turned 29 in February, had one of her best jumps at the World Championships in Doha where she produced a 14.92m effort to secure a silver medal behind Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas.

Now finally competing again, she expects to go even farther this year, maybe even getting closer to the Venezuelan, who won gold with her best jump of 15.37m.

Rickett’s confidence comes from the work that she and her coach and husband Kerrylee Ricketts have been putting in during their ‘down time’, and based on past experience, the likelihood that it will bear fruit.

“My step phase has improved since last year. The triple jump is very technical, so we are aiming to improve as many aspects of the jump as possible in order to surpass my personal best,” she said.

“Training is very different from competition, so it takes a while to get the hang of competing and getting back into top shape. We do our best to assimilate a competition-type environment in training so that it does not feel foreign once we begin to compete.

“It is definitely challenging to navigate from training to competition but proper preparation builds confidence and makes the transition more comfortable. The extra time gave us a chance to work on improving my strength and sprinting mechanics which are essential in doing well.”

The uncertainty of the season has impacted her ability to compete more frequently and bring those elements perfected in training to competition. However, once she gets the chance, jumping beyond 15m could be a lot closer to reality.

“I am pleased with where I am at this stage of the season. I am hoping to jump far this year, and I know that once I got the technical aspects of the jump correct, the distances will come,” she said.

“I am not in peak shape right now so I know that I will be able to produce bigger jumps as the season progresses.”

Following the recently concluded 0-0 Test series between the West Indies and Sri Lanka, the first nearly since the nil-all stalemate between Bangladesh and South Africa in 2015, West Indies head coach Phil Simmons, believes Caribbean curators need to prepare better pitches, ones that can yield results.

The two sides battled to the two-Test stalemate in which some batsmen filled their boots but more often than not the bowlers struggled to get 20 wickets. In the first of the Test matches played at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Sri Lanka failed to get 20 wickets in the match as the West Indies had scores of 271 and 236-4.

The local bowlers had early success bowling Sri Lanka out for 169 only to toil as the visitors scored a mammoth 476 in the second innings. In the second Test, West Indies made 354 and 280-4 while Sri Lanka had scores of 258 and 193 for 2.

In both matches, batting became much easier for both teams while the bowlers struggled.

The trend was not lost on the West Indies head coach.

“I think we from a country standpoint need to get better wickets where we can have Test matches that will create a result,” he said.

“Even if we lost a Test match after it’s gone to the fifth day, you will still think that we’ve done well to get to the fifth day and were in with a chance of winning the Test match, so I think that’s an important part of it.”

Notwithstanding the struggles of his bowling attack, Simmons said he was comfortable with what he has now.

“We had the bowlers there who we wanted to be in the Test team,” he said.

“Everybody else is still work in progress and still looking to put themselves in contention so right now these five bowlers are our main bowlers.”

 

The Jamaica Track and Field Coaches Association (JATAFCA) believes the absence of track and field competitions because of the Covid-19 pandemic is proving to be destructive.

In light of this claim, they have called upon the relevant authorities to immediately authorize the resumption of track and field that will allow the country to maintain its standing in global athletics.

The last track meet was held on March 20, 2021, and with the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships and the World Relays in Poland looming, Jamaica’s athletes will be at a significant disadvantage.

“The current delay is destructive. The psychological and mental damage to our athletes and coaches is almost irreparable. As a nation, we cannot afford a cancellation of ISSA Champs 2021, which the delay will cause. Not only is the competition a major pillar for our world-renowned track and field prowess, it provides the platform for student-athletes to earn athletics scholarships to overseas colleges and universities.”

JATAFCA said that the available data indicates that Jamaica’s student-athletes earn scholarships valued at over J$2 billion. This is a stark contrast to the J$85.791 million allocated in the 2019-20 Estimates of Expenditures for the Ministry of Sports for Athlete’s insurance. No other line item was identified as applicable.

“We, therefore, call upon the authorities to recognize the importance of track and field to the overall national development, the psyche and contribution to the young people of our nation. We implore them to partner with the JAAA, ISSA and their sponsors, to stage these competitions safely and successfully,” they said.

The inactivity, JATAFCA said, is due to the absence of approval by the authorities for the additional competitions organized and managed by the governing body the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA).

“We are made to understand that the authorities are concerned about the spike in COVID-19 cases and the stress on the public health system,” the JATAFCA said in a statement Thursday.

“Let it be clear that we too are equally concerned. We are, however, of the opinion that concern for public health is not diametrically opposed to the staging of COVID-19 safe track and field competitions. It is all about striking a balance, minimize the fallouts, and pursue the things we are best at.”

The coaches’ association said that over a three-week period from February 27 to March 20th, the JAAA staged 20 competitions that saw 39 junior athletes - 27 boys and 12 girls - making the very rigorous qualifying standards for the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi Kenya.

In addition, there was at least one world-leading performance from a senior athlete.

“With some 1500 juniors and close to 300 senior athletes competing in the Qualification Trial Series (QTS), there was no reported positive COVID-19 case(s) among athletes, officials or athlete support personnel,” the coaches said.

“The JAAA executed well and established a blueprint that several countries across the NACAC region, including USA and Canada, have now adopted.

 “We also make the call for authorities to provide clear and immediate responses, within 24 hours, to the applications for permits now in their possession. Further delay would be tantamount to assisting our global competitors in making light of our efforts when we meet on the track or in the field later this year.

“As an association, we will continue to play our part in encouraging our members to practice all the COVID-19 protocols for mask-wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene. They know we hold them to a high standard of compliance, a similar standard that has resulted in us being ranked third in World Athletics.”

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