Joella Lloyd and Carey McLeod shone brightly for the University at Tennessee at the SEC Championships at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Centre in Arkansas on the weekend.

Usain Bolt's one-time great rival Yohan Blake has declared he will refuse all COVID-19 vaccines, and would rather miss the Tokyo 2020 Olympics than be immunised.

The Jamaican sprinter won silver in the 100 metres and 200m at London 2012, as Bolt landed gold in both races. Only Bolt has ever run faster than Blake over those distances.

Speaking on Saturday, Blake expressed his opposition to being given a vaccine.

The International Olympic Committee has indicated athletes will not need to be vaccinated before taking part in the Tokyo Games, but vice-president John Coates recently said it was "certainly being encouraged".

The Olympics, postponed from last year due to the coronavirus crisis, is due to run from July 23 to August 8.

Quoted by the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, Blake said: "My mind still stays strong, I don't want any vaccine, I'd rather miss the Olympics than take the vaccine, I am not taking it.

"I don't really want to get into it now, but I have my reasons."

Blake, who won 100m gold at the 2011 World Championships, is now 31 and Tokyo may be his last chance to shine on the Olympic stage.

He said in a video posted late on Saturday night: "Love me or dislike me, but I am here for a reason, to serve God, and at the same time be a servant for God to help each and every one.

"I am a righteous man, I am a man of God, and I believe that everybody do have a choice in life, no matter what. And I want to tell someone, don't let anyone take away that choice from you.

"At the end of the day if anything should happen, nobody's going to be by your side apart from God. No one is going to be there to hold your hand, it's going to be you.

"Follow your mind, don't follow the crowd. At the same time, be respectful to each and every one. Don't let no one take away your choice."

Jamaica has had 422 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, and 23,263 cases, the country's government announced on Saturday.

The country has yet to receive first shipments of a vaccine, but health minister Dr Christopher Tufton said on Friday they would "soon" arrive.

Jamaica and Baylor University hurdler, Ackera Nugent, had to settle for second spot on the heels of a blistering run from Texas Longhorn Chanel Brissett, in the women’s 60mh final, at the Big 12 Indoor Track & Field Championship in Lubbock, Texas on Saturday.

In the preliminary round, it was Nugent who grabbed the headlines, after storming to an impressive 7.91 seconds, well clear of Brissett who took second in 8.06. 

In the final, however, it was Brissett who set the track on fire after finishing first in 7.89 for a new meet record.  Nugent finished second in 7.98 with Texas’ Emelia Chatfield third in 8.05.

In the women’s 60m, another Jamaican Kevona Davis was narrowly edged out for the top spot after finishing just behind Texas teammate Kynnedy Flannel.  Flannel clocked 7.25 for first place, Davis clocked the same time with the two separated by milliseconds.  Monae Nichols was third in 7.46.  In the women’s 200m the finishing order for the Texas teammates was the same, with Flannel taking top spot in 22.55 and Davis second in 22.87.  Baylor University’s Aria Minor was third in 23.03.

At the SEC Indoor Championships, there was a top spot finish for Jamaica and LSU sprint hurdler Damion Thomas, who took top spot in 7.60, a new personal best.  LSU teammate Eric Edwards JR was second in 7.67, with Arkansas Tre’Bien Gilbert third in 7.70.

 

Texas A&M’s Charokee Young will miss out on the SEC Championships that began on Thursday because she has been exposed to someone infected by Covid-19.

Tyra Gittens goes into tomorrow’s SEC Championships in a confident mood seeing how well she has performed indoors this season.

The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has received approval from the relevant government authorities to stage a series of competitive meets in order to allow junior and senior athletes the opportunity to sharpen up.

In the main, local track and field events have not been held on the island since March of last year, as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.  The government recently announced plans to re-start sporting events on a case by case basis and the event, called the JAAA Qualification Trial Series, will be the first approved for the track and field local governing body.

The trials will be on February 27, held across several venues across the island, and have specific events on offer.  Among the events on offer will be the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 2000m SC, 3000m, 5000m, 70mH, 80mH, 100mH, 110mH, 400mH, 4x100m, 4x400m, 4x200m, 1600m SMR, Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump, Pole Vault, Shot Put, Discus and Javelin.

Athlete’s wishing to compete in the meet must sign a COVID-19 waiver, with waivers signed by parents for athletes under-18.  The meets will feature no spectator with strict COVID-19 protocols in full effect at all the venues.

 Charokee Young believes improving her running form and having a better understanding of what she does has led to better performances so far this season.

The 20-year-old rising star also revealed that she has dropped the 800m because of her love for the 400m and that she is definitely aiming to make Jamaica’s Olympic team to Tokyo this summer.

“I think the Olympics are within my reach. I am pretty close to the times (required to qualify) and I am definitely going to try out for the Olympics. Once I am healthy I am definitely going to try to make the Olympic team,” she said.

Just over a week ago, Young, the former Hydel High School standout, split 51.12 that helped Texas A&M an all-time collegiate-best of 3:26.27 at the Tyson Invitational, the ninth-fastest time ever. It was also a season-best time, a meet record and facility record.

It was a performance that saw the team named the U.S. Track & Field National Athlete of the Week.

Young told Sportsmax.TV that they went into the race intent on breaking the record.

“Our aim was to break the record and I did my best,” she said. “I wasn’t focused on how fast I was going to run, was just focused on doing my best for that day.”

Prior to enrolling at Texas A&M, Young had personal bests of 2:06.02 and 52.48 in the 800m and 400m, respectively. In her freshman year, she ran 2:05.80 indoors in March 2020, before the pandemic shut down the collegiate season.

So far this season, she has picked up from where she left off, running ran a personal best 51.93 indoors, which along with the 51.12 relay split last week, has demonstrated her steady improvement.

“I have been working on my running form. My form has gotten much better. I also have more knowledge about what I am doing, I am learning more about my body and I am more mature now,” she said while explaining that she anticipates running even faster as she transitions to outdoors later this year.”

“I am getting better each time I touch the track so if I hit personal bests I will be happy. My health is pretty good and the more correct your form is the less you run the risk of getting hurt.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has sought to assure the island’s athletes that it is doing everything possible to facilitate the safe resumption of track and field across the island.

For the most part, all types of track and field competitions across the island have been shuttered since last year, as part of efforts to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

In order to resume, sports administrations must submit a series of plans that illustrate how it is that sporting events will comply with the strict protocols set out by the goverment's Disaster Risk Management orders.

The JAAA, who have submitted the documents, is confident they have put together a strong proposal and pointed to the fact that the proposal has been shared with other North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) members, who are expected to adopt several of the recommendations.

Among the organisations proposals are the provision of COVID protocol marshals, trained by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to oversee competitions and training; hosted sensitisation sessions with coaches, team managers, and athletes, a guide for meet organisers, and a team manual for competitors.

According to the JAAA, they are yet to be given a response from the authorities but have in the meantime urged athletes to continue to prepare for the upcoming season and to continue following the existing protocols.

 

Four-hundred-metres world record holder Wayde van Niekerk is to join Lance Brauman’s training camp in Florida, leaving behind his long-time coach Ans Botha in South Africa in what is said to be a temporary move.

“As much as I have enjoyed my experience with Tannie Ans and her group, I am hoping to break my world record and to do that I need to ensure I am training alongside the world’s best sprinters,” van Niekerk said in a press release today.

“So I feel a temporary move to the United States will be in my best interests for the immediate future.”

In Florida, van Niekerk, who briefly trained in Jamaica alongside Usain Bolt, prior to setting the world record of 43.03s at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will rub shoulders with 2019 World Champion Noah Lyles and Bahamian superstar Shaune Miller-Uibo, the 2016 Olympic 400 champion and 2019 World Championship silver medalist.

Van Niekerk, 28, who is making a comeback after seriously injuring his knee during a rugby game in October 2017, will reassess his future plans after the Tokyo Olympics.

In the summer of 2015, 18-year-old Calabar High School track star Michael O’Hara signed a professional contract with Puma and joined the world-famous Racers Track Club where he would rub shoulders with global stars Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Warren Weir and a host of other world-class athletes.

Big things were expected from O’Hara who was the World U18 200m champion in 2013 and who also excelled at the 100m, 110m hurdles and even the 400m.

His 10.19 and 20.45 personal bests over the 100m and 200m, respectively, hinted at what was possible once he matured under the experienced handling of Coach Glen Mills.

“Michael is one of the world's top young sprinters. He is a World Youth Champion and multiple Jamaican Champion. Under the coaching guidance of Glen Mills I am confident that he has a very bright future," said his agent Ricky Simms.

Unfortunately, things have not gone as planned with the talented athlete struggling to make the successful transition that so many had expected of him.

Four years later, he returned to his high school coach Craig Sewell and began to make headway in the sprint hurdles, one of the three events at which he excelled in high school. Now, a member of the newly formed Legacy Track Club at his old high school, O’Hara believes he is finally ready to live up to his immense potential.

In a recent interview with Sportsmax.TV, O’Hara, now 24, believes he has learned the lessons necessary for him to finally make the next step.

“Back then I had to learn the sport better and to learn what the transition is and what it takes; to accept the fact that there might be downfalls, to accept the fact that there might be mistakes and during the time we have to fall down and get back up,” he said.

“Now, I am more focused and understanding of what it takes to be a professional athlete and what it takes to get where I want to be.”

Head Coach at Legacy Omar Hawse tells Sportsmax.TV that the signs are there that this not just talk from the former high school star. Since he has returned to Calabar and training with his former coaches, O’Hara has been a different athlete.

“He has been putting in some good work. He is more focused, he seems to be very hungry, takes instructions better and seems eager to get to his best,” Hawse said. “Let us hope it can continue.”

The early signs of improvement were there in 2019 when after returning to the sprint hurdles, his former coach Glen Mills admitted that O’Hara seemed to have found his niche. The 13.61 he ran in Loughborough was an indicator that things were moving in the right direction and put him in line to qualify for the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

After qualifying for the finals of the sprint hurdles at Jamaica’s national championships in 2019, OHara fell and was denied a place on the team to Doha. Notwithstanding that disappointment, OHara feels like things are finally falling into place for him to move forward.

“It’s a good welcome home for me. The coaches are not unfamiliar so my mind is in a good place,” he said. “I am very good to be where I am right now. Working with Sewell again has been rejuvenating because he was there in high school with me. The chemistry was there in high school and there is no unfamiliar chemistry now that I am back with him.”

Sewell said the focus is now on getting Michael physically ready for whatever event he chooses to do.

“We are preparing him for anything that he could do well in if it’s the hurdles, the 100 or 200,” he said. “That’s the plan going forward for him. I don’t think he has any preference at this point, he is just preparing for all, being more technical at all so when we are ready to make that decision, it will come down to what’s best at that time.”

Along the way, OHara has come in for much criticism from an expectant public, disappointed in his lack of progress. He says he is used to that and chooses to use those negatives in a more positive manner.

“Criticism is nothing new coming from high school to now. I take them as motivation for me. I always train like I have something to prove. This is my drive; that is what gives me my push to go forward,” he said.

 

In its first information session, the NACAC Athletes Commission earlier this month, reaffirmed its commitment to becoming particularly active, increasing its visibility and working with all its athletes to address their issues and concerns.

Hydel track coach Corey Bennett has expressed pride in being involved in the development of an ambitious and "hard-working” Charokee Young.

The former Jamaican high-school star was a key member of Texas A&M’s record-breaking 4x400m relay team that set new standards at the Tyson Invitational in Arkansas last Saturday.

The 20-year-old Young ran a third-leg split of 51.12 as Texas A&M set an all-time collegiate record of 3:26.27.

The incredible time makes them the fourth-fastest women’s 4x400m relay team and is the ninth-fastest in history.

In addition to being a season-best run, the time broke the meet record of 3:27.94 set by Texas in 2016 as well as the facility record of 3:27.66 set by Texas in 2003.

Texas was more than six-seconds behind in second place with their season-best time of 3:32.64. Florida State University also ran a season-best of 3:34.02 for third.

The team of Young, Athing Mu, the U20 indoor 400m world record holder; Syaira Richardson and Jania Martin, will now go down in history as one of the greatest ever in school history. Only Mu’s split of 50.27 was faster than Young’s as Martin opened with 53.04. Richardson, who handed over to the Jamaican, split 51.86 on the second leg.

“3.26 indoor is such a special run, even outdoors, it’s a great run and to have the second-fastest split of 51.1 on such a special team. It’s really a blessing to see that you had something to do with her development,’ said Bennett.

“She is in an excellent programme at Texas A&M and I am so happy that we actually chose that school for her.”

Bennett believes her experience at Hydel has prepared Young for what she has been accomplishing since she enrolled at Texas A&M.

“She is going well. She is improving every weekend. She was also part of several record-breaking Hydel teams at the Penn Relays so she is used to being on several good 4x400m teams,” he said.

Young has thrived at Texas A&M ever since she arrived there two seasons ago after winning the finals of the 800m at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships in Kingston in March 2019.

The then Hydel star clocked 2:06.02 to win gold ahead of the talented duo of Shaquena Foote and Abigail Schaaffe, who were second and third, respectively.

In her first season at A&M, she ran 2:05.80 over 800m indoors. She subsequently dropped down to the 400m and so far this season has run a personal best 51.93 on February 6.

Bennett said while he was disappointed that she has dropped the 800m he sees where it has been beneficial to Young’s development.

“It’s paying off and I am sure that her coaches and her handlers right now are preparing her looking at getting her ready for trials this year. She will do well at trials as long as she remains healthy,” Bennett said while revealing Young’s ultimate ambition.

“Charokee will achieve through hard work and she is not afraid to work hard to achieve what she wants. She wants to make an Olympic team or World Champs team and she will stop at nothing (to achieve her goal).

 

 

 

Maurice Wilson, principal of Jamaica’s G.C. Foster College and a national team coach, has described recently deceased Calabar jumps coach Nicholas Neufville as a trainer that had limitless potential.

Neufville was found dead on Monday morning, in an open lot in Portmore, St Catherine, alongside a female passenger.  The athletics coach was 38 years old.

Up to the time of his death, Neufville had worked as part of the successful Calabar high school program and the newly formed Legacy Track Club.  Neufville was, however, also involved with the national team and was part of the Jamaican delegation that participated at the Pan American Under 20 Athletics Championships in Puerto Rico in 2019.

“He became a part of that cadre of coaches that would have travelled with the junior teams over the years and there were great expectations for him moving forward,” Wilson told TVJ Sports.

“He was one of the best coaches in both the long and triple jump.  He coached at the high school level, but his skills and skillsets could have taken him anywhere,” he added.

Before going on to be part of the multi-title winning Calabar high school team, Neufville had previously represented the corporate area high school.

Victor “Poppy” Thomas said he is grateful that his work at Lincoln University is being recognized after it has emerged that the Jamaican coach, considered one of the greatest in the university’s history, is to be inducted in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame on February 25, 2021.

Calabar High and Legacy Track Club coach Nicholas Neufville is being remembered as a brother and best friend by members of the track and field fraternity mourning his tragic passing.

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