Decision to postpone Champs 'hurtful' but understandable insists Edwin Allen coach Michael Dyke

By George Davis, Mariah Ramharrack&Lance Whittaker March 12, 2020

The coach of many-time high school champions Edwin Allen admits the cancellation of the event has come as a hammer blow to both himself and his athletes. Breaking with several of his colleagues, however, the coach believes the move was necessary in the face of the global pandemic.

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  • Calling lockdown of athletics 'destructive', track coaches association calls for immediate resumption of competition Calling lockdown of athletics 'destructive', track coaches association calls for immediate resumption of competition

    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.”

  • RB Leipzig 0-2 Liverpool: Salah and Mane pounce on errors to take charge of tie RB Leipzig 0-2 Liverpool: Salah and Mane pounce on errors to take charge of tie

    Liverpool took charge of their Champions League last-16 tie with RB Leipzig as they claimed a 2-0 win in the first leg in Budapest.

    Julian Nagelsmann's side, who pipped Manchester United to a place in the knockouts, looked far from comfortable in the unfamiliar surroundings of the Puskas Arena, where Tuesday's game was held to due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

    Mohamed Salah's 24th goal of the season put Liverpool ahead after a mistake by Kevin Kampl, and Sadio Mane doubled the advantage when Nordi Mukiele gifted him an opportunity.

    The Reds are now unbeaten in six away games against Bundesliga opposition stretching back to 2002, and Jurgen Klopp's men will be firm favourites to progress to the quarter-finals.

    Liverpool nearly fell behind after just five minutes, Dani Olmo's diving header hitting the inside of the post from Angelino's cross.

    The away side looked the most threatening as they began to take control, and Peter Gulacsi was alert to block a Salah effort from close range before Roberto Firmino fired a shot into the side-netting.

    Mane then headed over from six yards from a Firmino cross, and the Senegalese thought he had set up his strike partner to nod in the opener after errors from Dayot Upamecano, but the ball had gone out of play.

    Christopher Nkunku had barely been involved in the first half but he could have given Leipzig the lead early in the second, Alisson saving well after the striker ran onto Olmo's throughball.

    It was Salah who broke the deadlock 53 minutes in, drilling past Gulacsi after a dreadful backpass from Kampl, and it soon got worse for Leipzig.

    Mukiele made a complete mess of a simple clearance forward by Curtis Jones, and Mane had time to stride into the box and slot home.

    Angelino had a chance to pull a goal back but sliced his attempt badly, summing up a poor game for last season's semi-finalists.

    What does it mean? Fragile Liverpool give season huge boost

    Injuries and recent form - they had won three of their previous 12 games in all competitions - will have had Liverpool fans feeling a little anxious before meeting the side second in the Bundesliga.

    However, a display of supreme authority, helped by an erratic approach from Leipzig, put Klopp's men in total charge of this tie and could well have provided a timely boost in confidence.

    Leipzig will hope for better in the second leg, but their previous visit to England ended in a 5-0 defeat to Manchester United.

    Salah at menacing best

    Salah should perhaps have scored sooner but he made no mistake with his clearest chance of the game.

    He spent the rest of the game harassing a deeply unsettled Leipzig defence in a hugely impressive, committed performance.

    Nagelsmann's men in a muddle

    Leipzig were on a six-game unbeaten run at home in this competition and it was unfortunate for them that this game had to be relocated to a neutral venue.

    Still, that does not explain the horribly haphazard nature of their performance. Two defensive errors led directly to the goals, Mukiele could have been sent off before his mistake, while Bayern Munich-bound Upamecano misplaced 20 passes from centre-back.

    What's next?

    With the return leg not until March 10, Liverpool's more pressing concern is a derby with Everton on Saturday. Leipzig head to Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga a day later.

  • Mason Greenwood signs new Manchester United deal Mason Greenwood signs new Manchester United deal

    Mason Greenwood has signed a new contract at Manchester United that ties him to the Premier League giants until June 2025.

    United said the deal includes the option for a further year, emphasising their belief that academy product Greenwood, 19, is poised to play a big part in their future.

    The teenage forward has emerged among Europe's leading players in his age group, having made his debut as a 17-year-old and been a regular within the first-team squad ever since.

    Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Greenwood, who joined United's youth system as a seven-year-old, is primed to be a big part of the team in years to come.

    "Mason is a fantastic talent and yet another fine example of the type of player that our academy produces," Solskjaer said. 

    "He has made great progress this season, showing real maturity and adaptability to his game, which has seen him develop into one of the best young players in the country."

    Solskjaer believes Greenwood, who has scored just once in 18 Premier League appearances this season, has boundless scope for improvement in his game.

    The United boss told the club's website: "Whilst it is easy for people outside of the club to forget that Mason is just 19, it is our job as coaches to ensure he reaches his phenomenal potential and every step we take is to help him along that path.

    "Mason is naturally gifted and has a brilliant attitude; we know how important he is going to be for Manchester United over the coming seasons."

    Greenwood's previous deal, signed in October 2019, would have taken him through to the end of the 2022-23 season.

    Now, along with the likes of Marcus Rashford, he looks like being a long-term piece of United's first-team dressing room.

    Greenwood, who has one England cap, said: "I've worked so hard to reach this level and the last two years have been amazing. 

    "There is so much that I want to achieve in the game and I know that this is the perfect environment to play my football.

    "With the support from the manager, his coaching staff and so many great players to learn from; I know that I am developing every single day. 

    "There is a lot more to come from myself and this team and I am so committed to working hard week in, week out to help the group achieve success.

    "I want to repay the club for the support that everyone has given me over the years and show everyone just what I am capable of."

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