If this is to be the final season of Clemson University’s men’s track and field and cross-country, then Head Coach Mark Elliott intends to make it one for the ages as he launches the seemingly improbable task of making the school change its mind.

Elliott, who joined Clemson in 2013 after 12 years as an assistant coach at Louisiana State University, was caught off guard when the Division I school announced the unthinkable late last week.

Athletics Director Dan Radakovich delivered the devastating news last Thursday, November 5. In a letter posted on the university’s website, he wrote:

“After consultation and communication with President Clements and the Board of Trustees, I have made the difficult decision to discontinue sponsorship of the men’s track and field program effective June 2021. The program includes indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country.

After a long period of deliberative discussion and analysis we concluded that discontinuing our men’s track and field program is in the best long-term interests of Clemson Athletics. While this decision comes during the significant financial challenges due to the ongoing pandemic, those challenges are just one of many factors that led to this decision. We will continue to honor all student-athlete scholarships and provide them with support as they work towards earning their degrees. “

He said the school would also honour the contracts of the six coaches employed by the school, which basically means until the end of the 20/21 season.

The athletic director said several factors contributed to the decision including, but not limited to: competitive balance, gender equity and Title IX compliance, financial positioning, impact on diversity among student-athletes and staff, and local and national  interest and participation in the sport.

“The annual $2-million plus in savings will be reinvested into other athletic department initiatives, including our remaining Olympic sports and will help to provide additional financial stability moving forward. The Department of Athletics has already undertaken several significant measures to address a projected resource shortfall of $25 million this fiscal year,” he rationalized.

Elliott told Sportsmax.TV he was stunned by the news.

“It came as a big surprise. I had no knowledge. I found out about an hour and a half after the student-athletes were told by the athletic director,” he said. “They (student-athletes) were caught off guard and they’re still trying to process it, just like we are.”

Jamaica currently has about five or six male athletes on scholarship at Clemson among them Fabian Hewitt, LaFrenz Campbell, Rayon Holmes, Zico Campbell and Rojae Stona. Of the five, three – Hewitt, Campbell and Holmes - are due to graduate this academic year but they will still have college eligibility.

What this means is that if any of them were planning to continue to pursue further college competition and eventually transition to the professional ranks, they will likely consider transfers to other schools. Elliott reveals that if that turns out to be the case, then he will do everything to help them find new schools.

“They would have to seek alternatives and I and the coaches would help them along that path,” Elliott said.

Besides the athletes, at least 50 per cent of the athletics coaching staff that includes Lennox Graham, are likely to lose their jobs as under NCAA rules, the number coaches a school can employ depends on whether the number of programmes they have.

“It affects everyone, three of us or six of us could be gone,” Elliott said while explaining why for him the situation is so regrettable.

“Track and field is what got me to where I am today. My parents could not afford to send me to college so I got a scholarship just like these young men,” he said.

“It hurts on many levels. This is my livelihood too but I don’t view it as that alone. It is an opportunity to give opportunity to those like myself. It does hurt.”

It is why he say wants this coming season to be one of Clemson’s best ever.

“The focus is on the student-athletes to be able to be competitive. That is where the focus is right now. Life offers you challenges. How you respond is what makes the difference. We will try to get them to reconsider," he said. 

 

 

 

 

Jamaican coaches Mark Elliott and Lennox Graham are in limbo after Clemson University announced today that it will discontinue its men’s track and field and cross country program at the conclusion of the 2020-21 athletic season.

Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich made the announcement this afternoon saying that the programmes to be discontinued include indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country. Radakovich said the university will honour the contracts of the coaches through to their full term, which means that the coaches will be paid up until June 2021.

Clemson Athletics will also honour the scholarships of all impacted student-athletes through their undergraduate years at the level of financial aid that they are presently receiving, the statement said.

The NCAA-maximum number of allowable scholarships for men’s track is 12. Clemson’s 12 scholarships are presently split among 26 student-athletes, 15 of whom are scheduled to graduate by August 2021.

Clemson also supports an additional 25 walk-on student-athletes in the program.

“This difficult decision is a result of an exhaustive examination of our athletics department over the past several  months,” said Radakovich. “After careful analysis, we concluded that discontinuing our men’s track and field  program is in the best long-term interest of Clemson Athletics. This decision impacts incredible student-athletes,  and we know how hard they work and the effort and pride they take in representing Clemson University.”

Head Coach Mark Elliott’s phone went unanswered when Sportsmax.TV called today. He took the Clemson head coaching position in 2013 after spending 12 years as an assistant coach at Louisiana State University.

Notably, Jamaican Olympian and 800m national record holder, Natoya Goule, who won an NCAA title under Elliott’s watch, followed him to Clemson that year.

Assistant Coach Lennox Graham (hurdles and long sprints) joined the coaching staff in 2017 after spending a decade at Johnson C Smith University where he enjoyed tremendous success guiding 27 athletes to NCAA Division II championships titles, both indoors and outdoors.

In a brief comment to Sportsmax.TV, he said he just heard the news prior to being called and that he was still processing it.

Graham’s professional club, TRS, currently trains at Clemson. Danielle Williams, the 2015 World 100m champion, Kyron McMaster, the Commonwealth 400m hurdles champion and World Championship 400m hurdles finalist Leah Nugent are all members of the club.

Men’s track and field has been sponsored at Clemson since 1953, claiming 23 combined ACC Team Championships, 16 individual NCAA champions, 22 Olympians and four Olympic Gold Medalists.

Elaine Thompson-Herah, the double-gold medalist from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, said it was with a sense of pride that she embraced her nomination for World Athletics 2020 Female Athlete of the Year.

The 28-year-old Jamaican track star was on Tuesday named among 10 nominees who were selected by an international panel of athletics experts, comprising representatives from all six continental areas of World Athletics.

World Athletics said the nominations reflect the remarkable range of exceptional performances that the sport has witnessed this year, despite the challenges that the global Covid-19 pandemic presented.

"I feel honoured to be in the company of these nine other incredibly talented ladies,” said the Jamaican, who was the only Caribbean athlete among the nominees, male or female.

“I put a lot of hard work and dedication into this year like any other, so it’s a joy to be acknowledged by World Athletics.”

Thompson-Herah ran undefeated over seven races during the season in which she ran a world-leading 10.85 over the 100m at the Diamond League meeting in Rome. She also ran a time of 10.87s in Doha at the end of the season.

The other nominees included Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas, Femke Bol of the Netherlands, Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, Peres Jepchirchir from Kenya, Faith Kipyegon of Kenya, Laura Muir of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Helen Obiri of Kenya, and Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia.

According to World Athletics, the World Athletics Council and the World Athletics Family will cast their votes by email, while fans can vote online via the World Athletics' social media platforms.

 Individual graphics for each nominee will be posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram this week; a 'like' on Facebook and Instagram or a retweet on Twitter will count as one vote.

The World Athletics Council’s vote will count for 50 per cent of the result, while the World Athletics Family’s votes and the public votes will each count for 25% of the final result.

Voting for the Female World Athlete of the Year closes at midnight on Sunday, November 15. At the conclusion of the voting process, five men and five women finalists will be announced by World Athletics.

The male and female World Athletes of the Year will be announced live at the World Athletics Awards 2020 on Saturday,  December 5.

Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah has been included on a shortlist of athletes for the IAAF Female World Athlete of the Year award.

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 28-year-old double Olympic champion has put together a strong season.  Thompson-Herah won all seven of her 100m races and finished the campaign with a world-leading time of 10.85 seconds, which was recorded at the Rome Diamond League in September.

In addition to Thompson-Herah, the list includes Femke Bol (Netherlands), Letesenbet Gibey (Ethiopia), Sifan Hassan (Netherlands), Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya), Faith Kipyegon (Kenya), Laura Muir (Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Hellen Obiri (Kenya), Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela) and Ababel Yeshaneh (Ethiopia).

The Jamaican will face still competition to land the prize, with world records broken this year by Gidey (5000m), Hassan (hour run), Jepchirchir (half marathon, women only), Rojas (triple jump, indoors), and Yeshaneh (half marathon).

The list will be trimmed to five athletes after voting takes place among the World Athletics Council (50 percent), World Athletics family (25 percent), and by fans (25 percent) by liking individual athlete graphics on World Athletics’ Facebook and Instagram or by retweets.

Thompson-Herah is the only Jamaican nominated on either the male or female list.  American Dalilah Muhammad took the honour last year when she twice lowered the 400m hurdles world record.

 

 

 

A new EC $5million stadium facility with a synthetic track, the first of its kind of St Vincent and the Grenadines, will be officially opened on Wednesday in what is the first phase of the project that began in February this year.

Eight Jamaican high-school student-athletes had more than 400,000 reasons to smile on Wednesday when they were named recipients of scholarships for the remainder of their high school years by the Pocket Rocket Foundation run by four-time 100m world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

The 2020 scholarship awardees were sixth-form students York Shane (St. Jago), track and field and volleyball; Jahiem Wedderburn (Kingston College), lacrosse and football; Samantha Morrison (St. Andrew High School), track and field, swimming; fifth-form student Adrian Nethersole (St. Elizabeth Technical), track and field; as well as fourth-form students Jasauna Dennis (St. Elizabeth Technical), track and field; Habiba Harris (St. Elizabeth Technical), track and field; Oshane Blackwood (St. Elizabeth Technical), track and field; and Solesha Young (Convent of Mercy), track and field, table tennis, badminton, hockey, netball.

According to the foundation, second to fifth-form recipients, received J$50,000 each while the sixth-formers each got J$60,000.00. The total value of the scholarships this year amounts to J$430,000.

These eight will join the 12 current student-athletes on scholarship, which means that the foundation is supporting 20 scholarship recipients for the duration of their high school education. To date, a total of 50 scholarships have been awarded through the foundation.

This year’s recipients were selected from 58 applications that included applicants from territories outside Jamaica including Turks & Caicos, Cuba, USA, Canada & South Africa). However, the scholarships are only available to Jamaican high school student athletes.

Olympian Donald Quarrie believes the current administration of the Jamaica Administrative Athletic Association (JAAA) has been stagnant for too long and there is an urgent need for change if Jamaica’s track and field is to avoid falling behind the rest of the world.

Quarrie, 69, is campaigning to become the next president of the association when votes are cast at the JAAA Annual General Meeting in late November. Incumbent president Dr. Warren Blake has said that he will not seek re-election and General Secretary Garth Gayle is said to be favoured to replace him.

That has not gone down well with Quarrie, who believes it is time for change.

“It’s the same people who are going to be in. The same deck of cards, only shuffled a different way,” the six-time Commonwealth champion said, indicating that the current torpidity is proving to be detrimental to Jamaican athletics.

An indication of the stagnation, Quarrie said, was the JAAA’s inability to capitalize on the success eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt, when he was at the peak of his powers.

“It’s not even about taking advantage, we didn’t know how,” Quarrie declared on Saturday during an interview on Sportsnation Live on Nationwide Radio in Kingston.

“We didn’t have the personnel to do it.”

Quarrie revealed that there was a plan was in place to capitalize on the remarkable success Jamaica was experiencing just over a decade ago when athletes like Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Yohan Blake, were the best in the world in what was arguably the most dominant period of the country’s track and field history.

However, that plan died along with then president Howard Aris.

“I was on the board up to 2011 after Howard passed. At that period there was a move to do so but Howard passed. After that, everything stood still and we never reached out to get the experts who could market the association, experts who could guide us,” the 1976 Olympic champion said.

“Instead, we were holding to something that had great value but we couldn’t see it and we didn’t capitalize on it. That is why we are in the position we are now.”

Quarrie said his love and dedication to Jamaica’s athletics is what has motivated him to try and make a difference.

 

 

Shaunae-Miller-Uibo has called foul on the decision to dismiss charges against Salwa Eid Nasser and has called for the formation of an independent athletes’ body in a bid to maintain the integrity of the sport.

I recently had a rather eye-opening conversation with an 18-year old about one of Jamaica’s greatest ever female sprinters Merlene Joyce Ottey.

I would say this young man has a strong working knowledge of sports but especially of Jamaican athletes and their accomplishments.

It, therefore, struck me by surprise when the name Merlene Ottey did not resonate with him, certainly not in the way I would have expected.

It isn’t that he hadn’t heard the name before but the significance of it did not immediately dawn on him, not in the way speaking of a modern star like Usain Bolt or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce would.  Sadly, I find this of most I speak to from the younger generation.

I will admit when Ottey was in her prime his generation would not have been born but to me, she is such a legendary figure that her legacy of placing Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean on the female track and field map must never be forgotten.

And so, I took the opportunity to educate this youngster about Ottey and her stunning career, from becoming the first English-speaking Caribbean female to win an Olympic medal in 1980, to her switch to and subsequent major appearances for Slovenia post the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

I especially focused on some narrow misses for World and Olympic 100 metres gold at the 1993 Stuttgart World Championships and the 1996 Olympics, on both occasions narrowly, and some would say controversially, losing to American Gail Devers.

This young man seemed in awe, as he should be.

“She was cute too,” he said as he watched the 1993 IAAF World Championship 200 metres final when she finally won a global outdoor gold medal.

So many youngsters are unaware of the history and believe Jamaica’s track and field success started at the Beijing Games with Bolt and company.

But since 1948, the world has respected what we have offered in the global track and field space and for 20 years 1980-2000, Ottey stood front and centre as the leading figure not only but especially for women in the English-speaking Caribbean.  

She won nine Olympic medals, including 7 in individual events, the most by any woman in track and field.

She backed that up with 14 World Outdoor medals and 7 World Indoor medals and she still holds the 200m world indoor record at 21.87 seconds.

Just this week, Ottey was again recognised at the National Honours and Awards ceremony on Heroes’ Day, receiving the country’s fourth highest honour, The Order of Jamaica.

This is a well-deserved and timely reminder of the greatness of the woman.

She was dubbed “Bronze Queen” as 15 of her 30 global medals, indoors and out, were of that variety.  She had many narrow misses for gold but Merlene Ottey’s impact in inspiring generations of Caribbean female sprinters is worth honouring and celebrating even to this day.

So, this is in honour of Merlene Ottey.

May we never forget her impact on Jamaica, the Caribbean, and indeed global track and field.  

World 400 metres champion Salwa Eid Naser has had anti-doping violation charges dismissed by a World Athletics tribunal.

The 22-year-old, who won gold in Doha last year with the third-fastest time in history of 48.14 seconds, was provisionally suspended in June after being charged with four whereabouts violations.

She was charged with a filing failure dated to March 16 last year, effective of January 1, and three missed tests on March 12, 2019, April 12, 2019 and January 24, 2020.

Naser admitted to missing three drug tests but insisted it was "normal" and "can happen to anybody" and made it clear she has "never been a cheat".

One of the four charges was dismissed because the doping control officer, confused by the numbering of the apartments where Naser lives, accidentally knocked on a storage-room door rather than her residence.

World Athletics said "it would be wrong to be critical" of the official as he "committed to do everything possible to locate and test the athlete", including returning to the address later that day before seeing if she was present at the Bahraini National Stadium.

Because the other missed tests were not within a 12-month period, Naser has not violated anti-doping rules.

However, in its ruling, the tribunal warned Naser that her missed test in January 2020 still stands against her and strongly advised that she seeks advice in using the Anti-Doping Administration & Management System (ADAMS) to prevent future complications.

"This was a case very much on the borderline, and we hope the athlete will learn from the experience and heed the AIU's warnings," the tribunal said.

The AIU has 30 days in which to appeal against the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Charges of missing three drug tests within a 12-month period against Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser have been dismissed by an Independent Panel administered by Sport Resolutions in the United Kingdom.

The decision came after the tribunal dismissed a missed test after the tester knocked on a storage unit door rather than her apartment.

Naser was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit on June 5, for missing three drug tests prior to her participation in the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha Qatar where she won gold in the 400m in 48.14s the third fastest time in history.

The athlete was pleased about the outcome.

"Ms. Naser is, of course, extremely happy with the outcome. As one can imagine, this has been quite the ordeal for her and she can now put this behind her and focus on her training," said her representative Dr Emir Crowne.

 

Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shaunae Miller-Uibo ended their respective seasons with the number-one rankings in the 100m and 200m, respectively in what was a track season like no other.

The 2019/2020 track season was characterized by meet cancellations and the introduction of virtual formats because the pandemic that has been sweeping the globe since March. However, meets gradually returned largely before empty stadia but many athletes still managed to deliver world-class performances.

Among them was the 2016 double Olympic champion who was fastest in the world over 100m for 2020.

Thompson Herah’s 10.85 set in Rome on September 17 beat out her compatriot and rival Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who ended her year ranked second by virtue of the 10.86s run at the Velocity Fest meeting in Kingston’s National Stadium on August 22.

Rising star Sha’ Carri Richardson, in her first full season as a professional, was third fastest with 10.95.

The Bahamian sprint queen was equally impressive in the year in which she set a personal best of 10.98s in the 100m and the world’s best time of 21.98 in the 200m at the Back to the Track Meeting in Clermont, Florida on July 25.

Richardson capped her great year with a personal best 22.00 that was the second fastest for 2020 while Thompson Herah’s 22.19 ranked her third in the world for the year.

Miller-Uibo, who last year set 48.37 the sixth fastest time in history over the 400m was only second best for 2020 with 50.52 set in Monteverde, Florida on July 4. That time was only bettered by Lynna Irby’s 50.50, the fastest time in the world this year.

Lieke Klaver of the Netherlands clocked 50.98, which made her third best in the world for the year.

Double World U20 champion, Pan Am Games U20 champion, NACAC U18 champion and world-record holder are just some of the titles owned by Jamaica’s rising track star Briana Williams.

She has now added a new title; homeowner.

The 18-year-old university student acquired the keys to her home in Florida and she couldn’t be happier. She showed off her new home on social media saying “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”

The excitement was still palpable when she spoke with Sportsmax.TV

“Purchasing my first house was a dream come true for me, especially at 18 you don’t see that much,” she said.

“I’m so happy and excited about this big step I took. This is what I couldn’t wait for! It was a long process but I enjoyed and learned a lot from it.”

After an outstanding year in 2019, when she won many titles and set a new Jamaica U20 record, Williams signed a multi-year deal with Nike in January. She has recently began training in anticipation of making Jamaica’s team to the Tokyo, Olympics in Japan next summer.

 

Despite enjoying an outstanding 2020 track season World 400m hurdles champion, Karsten Warholm does not believe he is the man to replace Usain Bolt as the face of track and field. In fact, he believes no one can.

The 24-year-old Warholm came incredibly close to Kevin Young’s world record of 46.78 set back in 1992, when he ran 46.87, a European record, at the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm in August.

Warholm also became the first athlete to run 47.10 or faster over the 400m hurdles multiple times during the course of a single season. He did it four times.

His remarkable performances made him the standout star in 2020 as every time he raced fans expected him to challenge or break the world record.

During a recent chat on Instagram Live with Olympian and athletics broadcaster Ato Boldon, Warholm was asked he if was ready to assume the mantle of the man to replace Usain Bolt. Achieving that, he said, would be impossible.

"When Usain Bolt came into the sport, he didn't have anyone right before him that... He didn't have any shoes to fill at that point,” he said.

"Now everybody talks about who's going to be the next Usain Bolt. Nobody is going to be the next Usain Bolt! Nobody is going to be the next Ato Boldon either.

"I think everybody's got to find their own way, Usain Bolt was huge so it's an honour just being compared to him but for me it's always been about developing.

"I don't want to build myself up as the face of the sport or the next Usain because for me it's about the running. If what comes with it is that people get inspired by what I'm doing, then I think that's great."

Three-time Olympian Sherone Simpson will be the patron for the inaugural Team Jamaica Bickle Virtual 5K run/walk set to take place between October 9 and 24. Team Jamaica Bickle hopes to raise US$25,000 from the event that will go towards supporting athlete welfare in the coming year.

This was announced during an online press conference hosted by TJB Chairman Irwin Claire on Friday morning.

The funds raised will support TJB’s programs, mainly its hospitality services which include the provision of meals, transportation, accommodations and medical care for Caribbean athletes participating at the annual Penn Relays Carnival at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. The organization also embarked on a Defibrillator to Schools program approximately six years ago ensuring that these life-saving devices are available to athletes participating in sports at high schools in Jamaica.

TJB are hoping to attract 1000 participants who are being asked to register via either the TJB website or https://events.elitefeats.com/bickle20.

Once registered, participants have approximately two weeks from October 9-24, 2020, to complete their run or walk and upload their time using the Strava APP which can be downloaded from the Apple or Google Play Store. Two lucky runners will be awarded automatic entry to the Reggae Marathon, which will be held virtually this year. There will also be10n prizes, awarded to five males and five females. The announcement of these prizes will take place on Sunday October 25, 2020 at 12 noon and will be streamed live on Jamaicans.com, on TJB’s Facebook Page and its other Social Media Platforms.

Marvin Anderson, president of the Olympian Association of Jamaica, said the 5K run/walk fits perfectly with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between his association and TJB that was signed earlier this year.

Grace Kennedy, JTB, Caribbean Food Delights, Jamaicans.com, Energice, Reggae Marathon, Awesome Power Track Club, Joseph Sports LLC and True Tribute Organization are sponsors of the event.

 

 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.