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.

In 2008 at Jamaica’s National Senior Championships in Kingston, a relatively unknown sprinter called Shelly-Ann Fraser stunned a nation when she finished second in the 100m behind Kerron Stewart, who clocked 10.80. Her time of 10.82 was a surprise to many but the bigger surprise was that she beat her more celebrated compatriots Sherone Simpson (10.86) and Veronica Campbell Brown, who was fourth in 10.88.

 There was a national outcry for Campbell-Brown to replace the greenhorn from the MVP Track Club. Surely, she would not be able to go to Beijing and do better than Campbell-Brown, the seasoned campaigner who won gold over 200m in Athens four years before and the 100m title in Osaka in 2007.

Stung by the naysayers calling for her head Fraser silenced them by becoming the first Jamaican woman to win an Olympic 100m title as Jamaica finished 1-2-2 in the finals. She would go on to win another Olympic 100m title four years later in London and just last year won an unprecedented fourth 100m title in Doha in 2019.

A 200m World title and an Olympic 200m silver medal have cemented her a legacy as arguably Jamaica’s greatest female sprinter and one of the best of all time.

She now says that she forgives those naysayers because she understands why they did.

"I’m not gonna say I blame them. I cannot because at the time Veronica was a sure thing,” Fraser-Pryce said during an interview with Yendi Phillips on her YouTube show Odyssey, Untold Journeys with Yendi.

“Looking back now I cannot say I would have sit down in my days and be at home and somebody say ‘Veronica naw run’ and me would a probably take that. Me woulda say ‘No, mi waan Veronica run,” said the four-time 100m World Champion.

“I remember watching that Olympics, 2004 Olympics, at home. Veronica was the standard. So I cannot imagine that they would have said anything different and I understand.

 I have forgiven all of that. I have moved on because I understand that while it shouldn’t have happened based on the rules, I understand where everybody was coming from and I think at the end of the day, I’m glad that I was able to open the doors for younger athletes to understand that anything that you set out to achieve, your age, it don’t matter. When you’re ready, you show up, and you go out there and you go after it.”

William Knibbs shot a one-under-par 71 to win his first-ever national title at the Half Moon Golf Course in Montego Bay on Sunday.

Knibbs was the only golfer to post a score under par over the three days of competition. He shot scores of 73 and 74 on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

At the end of day one, Knibbs shared the lead with Sebert Walker Jr and Rocco Lopez but fell to third on the second day. On Sunday, he shot his best round to rally and win by four shots over last year’s winner Justin Burrowes, who ended the championship tied for second Walker Jr.

They both ended with overall scores of 222 each.

“(It feels) great. It’s beyond anything in my wildest dreams. It is my first time winning the national championship.  The last three years I came second, twice in a play-off and once by one shot,” said the elated champion, who said the conditions were challenging.

“It was very hot, very humid but it was windy at the same time.  The person who made the least mistakes ended in a place to win so I am just lucky that I was this person.”

A disappointed Burrowes said he was unable to put everything together for this championship.

“Today it wasn’t the best result but I gave it my best shot so I can’t really complain.  The conditions were pretty tough today.  It was very hot.  It was pretty windy at times and I just couldn’t get it going on the greens,” said the dethroned champion who shot 76 on Sunday.

“My putting wasn’t so great so it’s hard to really shoot a good score if you are not making many putts.  William Knibbs played really well in the end and I am just happy for him to be honest.” 

Meanwhile, Walker Jr. put together his best performance to date at the senior level. On Sunday, he led by a stroke at the halfway mark but had three bogeys on the back nine for a score of 77. “Today’s performance wasn’t the best.  I had a solid day again similar to my first two days, however, I couldn’t quite get anything going at all,” he said.

“I needed to make more birdies just like over the first two days.  It was a little tougher day and not having those birdies to help with the bogeys, really escalated the score.  It was a solid performance nonetheless. I am still proud of how I played.  I am not quite happy with the finish but proud of how I played.  It was a good tournament overall.”

Day-one joint leader Lopez was just one stroke behind in fourth with a score of 223.  He shot 75 on the final day.

Former national champion Sean Morris, who played with an injured finger, shot an 80 and posted a three-day total score of 229.  Mark Newnham shot a 79 on Sunday to close with a score of 233.

The Men & Men Senior category: 7-12 handicap went to Kemar Brown – 234 (77).  Shamar Wilson – 237 (80) was second while Tommy Lee -245 (80) was third.

In the Ladies section of the two-day championship, Emily Mayne (162) won the title over Michelle Hamilton (177).

The top three in the Men Super Senior category were Opton Marshall (172), Howard McKenzie (193) and Linval Freeman (197).

 In the Juniors Boys (14-15), Aman Dhiman (154) won over Trey Williams (171) and Noah Azan (176).  The two golfers in the Boys 11-13 section were Ryan Lue (180) amd Aaron Ghosh (182).

 Mattea Issa (182) and Annoushka Khatri (198) were the girls in the 11-13 category.

Senior Sunshine Girl and former captain and vice-captain, Vangelee Williams, has announced her retirement from the national team.  Williams first represented Jamaica against South Africa in 2012 and over the next few years and played  Wing Defence, Goal Defence, and Goal Keep for her country.

During that time, she won medals at the Commonwealth Games and Fast5 World Series competitions but after more than 50 international caps for the perennial Caribbean queens, Williams, 28, has decided to call time on her career.

“The curtain has closed on what one would call the biggest and best part of my life. I’ve been blessed to be able to represent my country, Jamaica, over all these years. The little girl coming from the country on weekends to try and win a spot in the national program was willing, was motivated, was full of aspirations and big dreams of representing the country at the highest level,” she said while revealing that she intends to continue playing at the local level.

“I am now 28! And Lord knows I’ve made those dreams and aspirations a big reality! I am super proud of all the contributions I’ve made to the programs I’ve been a part of i.e. U16, U21 and the Senior Squad.”

 Williams, who first represented Jamaica at the U16 level, said she found success at every level at which she has represented Jamaica.

“Mi get voted captain, mi get voted player to watch, have gotten MVPs, have made the game swing in our favour with one of my famous steals have impacted others players positively, and that is and will always be a big thing for me. I want to see everyone win! Play the best netball you can and enjoy it,“ she said in her post on Facebook.

“What I’ll miss the most is the team banter, our big and very opinionated debates on the bus after training, every dancing session (where Adean (Thomas) to this date is trying to get me in rhythm. Every celebration after a big win!”

“One U16 gold medal, one U21 bronze medal, two senior Bronze at Commonwealth Games, two Silver at Fast Five, and few international and local Series wins in between and over 50 caps later I am retired and loving it.”

The Jamaica Olympic Association says the significant increase in administrative expenses over the past two years is as a result of changes made to its organisational structure as it moved to become more professional in its operations.

The JOA was responding to a report in Jamaican media on Thursday that placed the spotlight on the organisations ballooning operational expenses over the last two years. In the report aired in Television Jamaica, it was revealed that salaries moved from JMD$9.7M in 2017 to J$34.7M in 2018, while administrative expenses spiralled almost 100 per cent - from J$32M to J$60M over the same period.

Meanwhile, JOA’s assets declined from J$178.1M in 2017 to J$147.8m in 2018 all while per diem payments for athletes was reduced from USD$30 to USD$25.

Earlier Friday, the JOA issued a lengthy statement detailing the changes to its operations as it sought to justify its expenditures.

“The increase in the administrative expenses of the JOA was as a result of the full establishment of a corporate organizational structure. This involved the modernization of the operations of the JOA again in keeping with the “Pathway to Success” program and entailed the full computerisation of our accounting systems, the introduction of a payroll system to replace the paper-based manual system and a complete revamp of the website,” the JOA said in its statement. 

“Sixty-seven per cent of the increase in administrative expenses over 2017 was as a result of the increase in salaries and wages which was a function of the decision of the Board and mandate it received from member associations to restructure and professionalize the association.”

The JOA said 10 per cent of the increase in administrative expenses over the prior year 2017 was as a result of a decision taken by the new administration to rectify the reconciliations and finalise outstanding financial reports from the prior quadrennial period (2013-2016) for submission to its main stakeholder, the International Olympic Committee (IOC). “This saw a reduction in our receivables from J$85M in 2017 to J$20M in 2018,” it said.

The JOA explained that salaries increased as a result of a decision taken by the board to restructure and professionalize the office in keeping with the “Pathway to Success” vision which was articulated to our members in 2017.

“In expanding the services to our members, the Board identified four critical areas: Business Development, Member Relations, IT Services and Marketing and Corporate Communications. This necessitated the engagement of persons with the skill sets and experience in alignment with the services being offered,” the JOA said.

This, it said, resulted in increased sponsorships and revenue to the JOA with income levels doubling in 2018, which was a direct result of the JOA leveraging more income opportunities through existing stakeholders and new partners.

The JOA also claimed that leveraging increased grant income through Olympic Solidarity to support the development activities carried out by our various member associations while also continuing its efforts to increase other income streams through new sponsorships. 

The redevelopment and branding of the JOA Website and the development of websites for some Member Associations at no cost to them.

According to the JOA, significant improvement in member relations through its educational workshops, increased training opportunities for its members locally and overseas and the hosting of its “Sports for Breakfast” series, which allowed its member associations to interface and network with corporate Jamaica.  Membership support increased by JMD$80M over the prior year and across various sports facilitating their development and assisting with Olympic qualification efforts.

In relation to communications, the JOA said the professionalization of its communication network with its members' associations and external partners as well as press conferences and briefings hosted by the JOA led to the creation of a strong brand presence locally and globally.

Jack Warner, the embattled former FIFA Vice President and Independent Liberal Party (ILP) political leader, announced Thursday night that he will be contesting the Trinidad and Tobago general election set for August 10.

The ILP said the 77-year-old Warner will contest the Lopinot/Bon Air West seat. The controversial former football official, who is fighting extradition to the United States where he is expected to face corruption charges, is to host a media conference at 3 pm at his constituency office in Arouca today.

Warner served as a Government Minister under the former People's Partnership administration. He resigned as the Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West in April 2013.

Warner had been a member of the FIFA Executive Committee since 1983 and CONCACAF President since 1990. He was re-elected for a new term in 2011.

However, he was implicated in numerous corruption allegations dating back to the 1980s.

In May 2011, Warner and Mohammed bin Hammam were provisionally suspended by the FIFA Ethics Committee pending the outcome of the investigation of corruption allegations against them.

On 20 June 2011, FIFA announced Warner's resignation from all his positions in international football.

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.

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