Condolence messages continue to pour in locally and from across the region in reaction to the sudden passing of the immediate past president of the Jamaica Table Tennis Association (JTTA) Godfrey Lothian on Tuesday.

The 65-year-old sports administrator reportedly suffered from a heart attack at his home Tuesday morning and was declared dead at the hospital sending the table tennis, cricket and football fraternities into shock. Lothian served three terms as JTTA President from 2013 to 2019. He was also a member of the board of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA).

He also served the sport of football for decades.

As such, the Kingston and St. Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) said it extended its deepest condolences to the President of Greenwich Town FC and the family of Godfrey Lothian.

“For over 30 years he had a passion for youth and grassroots programmes within the Greenwich Town Football community.

President of KSAFA Wayne Shaw highlighted that "Lothian was a community man who wanted to see the best for the youth. His contribution to football will be remembered".

Minister of Gender, Culture, Entertainment and Sports Olivia Grange also expressed her surprise at the sudden passing of the respected administrator.

“I am deeply shocked to learn that Mr Godfrey Lothian died unexpectedly at his home. Mr Lothian was a devoted servant of the sport of table tennis in Jamaica and his contribution will not be forgotten. My heartfelt sympathy to his family, JTTA and the table tennis fraternity,” the minister said.

The Jamaica Cricket Association also reacted to the news.

“Director Lothian served as the president of the Kingston and St Andrew Cricket Association. He also served as a director on the JCA’s board. On behalf of the JCA and the wider cricket, we once again extend condolences and offer continuous prayer,” the JCA said in a statement.

However, the local and regional table tennis was the hardest hit fraternity.

News of Lothian’s death sparked messages of sympathy from table tennis associations from across the Caribbean including the International Table Tennis Federation, Barbados, Cuba, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, French Guiana, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, Martinique, Bonaire, Suriname, St Vincent and the Cayman Islands.

 Closer home,  Lothian helped bring the sport back from obscurity by focusing on youth development and engaged scores of children and their parents.

Andrew Lue, the current JTTA president said he was both shocked and saddened by the news of Lothian’s death. “I learnt a lot from him,” Lue said. “This is shocking. We had our differences but I would not wish this on anyone.”

 Natalie Johnson a former manager of the Juniors National team, under Lothian’s presidency, said she was in disbelief.

“His passing is a real shock and my heart goes out to his family,” she said.

“I got involved with the table-tennis community because of my son Azizi. I can categorically say that under Mr Lothian leadership the juniors excelled to the level where they competed internationally. He ensured that the juniors were exposed every chance he got. May his soul rest in peace."

National player Kane Watson said Lothian had a strong following and people who didn’t see things his way but he was committed to the cause and worked hard. “He wanted better for table tennis,” Watson said.

Klan Bell-Lewis, the mother of Gianna and Tsenaye Lewis, who represent Jamaica at the junior level, said Lothian made significant contributions to the sport.

"As a parent of girls, I am appreciative of Mr Lothian and his administration for creating a space where girls were welcomed and encouraged within the sport. His contribution to youth development through table tennis is significant," she said.

Lewis's daughter, Tsenaye, a member of the national squad from 2016-2019, described the late president as a man of vision.

“Rest in peace, Mr Lothian. He was a visionary organizer and he had a lot of hopes for the junior players. May his legacy live on."

 

 

 

The Heart Institute of the Caribbean (HIC) is now a sponsor of the Jamaica Premier League. It is a partnership that will see the HIC providing cardiovascular screening to an estimated 407 footballers, coaches and managers from all 12 teams in the Jamaica Premier League for the 2021 season.

The very successful staging of the inaugural Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA)/Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) ‘Olympic Destiny’ track and field series has arrested the attention of the global sporting fraternity in a manner that has left experts shouting "bravo".

In a publication, World Athletics stated that the series is "aptly named JOA/JAAA ‘Olympic Destiny’. The Washington Post newspaper in the United States also had the event on its radar with a report on the explosive world-leading 10.63 performance of sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100 metres.

Performances during the series were also captured in traditional and new media entities worldwide.

Although only in its first year, ‘Olympic Destiny’ has already earned a reputation locally and internationally as a standard-bearer in track and field, which the JOA and its member association, the JAAA, intend to guard jealously.

Contemplating current health challenges and risks and looking to the future, President of the JOA, Christopher Samuda, in a post-event interview, stated that, "Olympic Destiny gave athletes a new and inspired lease on life amidst the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and the national senior trials will be the 'Olympic Verdict' as athletes vie for coveted places at the pinnacle multi-sport the Olympic Games”.

The description, ‘Olympic Verdict’, of the national senior trials, is on point as several events, including the 100m, 200m, 110m hurdles and the triple jump for both men and women, as well as the discus for men, are expected to be competitive and showstoppers.

Secretary-General and CEO of the JOA, Ryan Foster, in anticipating keen contests, remarked that "on D-day at the national senior trials, diplomacy will somewhat give way to assertive rivalry for at the end of it all there will be one verdict, which performances will deliver.”

This year's national senior trials between June 24 and 27 at the National Stadium is indeed the ‘Olympic Verdict’ as "emerging generations will meet experienced campaigners in a decider that will be healthy for the sport, thrilling for the fans and ensure succession," Foster said.

The jury will certainly not be out where the staging of future Destiny series is concerned as the JOA intends to roll out ‘Olympic Destiny’ in 2022 and beyond in athletics and other sports.

"Olympic Destiny is now a staple on the calendar as we have earmarked the summer and winter Games as dramatic watershed events of exciting times ahead of us,'' Samuda declared.

If the significant turnout of athletes and the notable performances are anything to go by, the ‘Olympic Destiny’ Series will become not only a local product of Olympism but an international asset.

 

There is much hope that the development of Jamaica’s junior gymnastics will spring to another level with the inaugural Mayberry Gymnastics Strength & Skill Testing Series.

More than 100 youngsters, aged five years and older, are participating in the first event in the series, which is scheduled to begin today (Friday, May 14) at 5:00 p.m. and run through to Sunday, May 16, at the National Gymnastics Training Centre, at 1 Slipe Road in Kingston.

The series will take place quarterly for the next four years, courtesy of a joint effort by Mayberry Investments, which have invested one million dollars, the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the National Gymnastics Federation of Jamaica.

“This event is the first in a series to aid in the national junior development process and will continuously test the readiness of our athletes, as part of a four-year cycle, for the Olympic programme. In other words, this series is critical to the success and growth of our budding gymnasts,” remarked Gary Peart, CEO, Mayberry Investments.

“Mayberry wants to witness the honing of this sort of talent on the local stage so that we can make a big impact on the world stage. Jamaicans are known for being ‘likkle but tallawah’ and this is just another shining example that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

As the main feature, all participants in the training event will be awarded a medal.

“Mayberry is particularly happy that all the athletes involved will be awarded medals at the end of the testing series, because we believe that all efforts are valid, from the smallest to biggest,” Peart said.

Ryan Foster, Secretary General/CEO of the JOA, expressed his delight at the partnership that will bring yet another sport to the forefront of Jamaican athletics.

“The JOA is pleased to have brokered this deal under our JOA/Mayberry partnership that was established in 2019. The sport of gymnastics will be one of the sport that will be representing Jamaica at this summer’s Olympics and we are pleased with the trendsetting work done by President Grant-Brown and her team.

“The synergies between Mayberry and the Jamaica Gymnastics Federation was seamless and one built on developing the next generation of athletes. The JOA is extremely proud of one of our key partners, Mayberry, who has truly bought into our vision of building now for the future,” Foster shared. “They have demonstrated that they are good corporate citizens whose philanthropy has no bounds. We will continue to find avenues for our athletes and members to develop."

All told there will be five sessions, which includes the first that ended at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, followed by a 30-minute awards ceremony. Sessions two, three and four are slated for 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m, 12:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m. and 3:00-5:30 p.m., respectively, on Saturday; while Session five will run from 9:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Sunday. The final half-hour in each session is reserved for awards presentations. 

Former national hockey president and now President of Gymnastics Nicole Grant-Brown praised the effort of their partners and noted the impact of their support.

“Mayberry Investments is shining a light on us that is certainly helping us to have hope. Jamaica Gymnastics is in its growth stage and like any child, we need help to grow and with a good support system we can grow big and strong,” she said.

“We are happy and elated that the vision of the Jamaica Olympic Association is wide enough to recognize that gymnastics, which is seen in Jamaica as a minor sport, requires partnerships of this nature to make it major and will one day be placed in its rightful position as one of Jamaica’s most consistent Olympic sport and most participated by our youth in this country.

“Already we have made two consecutive Olympic Games, 2016 and 2021, and the sport has not yet reached its maturity stage.”

She also noted the strategies involved in carving out this series, which marks the beginning of Jamaica’s junior Olympic programme.

“The skills and strength testing is two to three times per year, which is the base for their development. This program compares to that of the United States’ USA TOPS program, which they use to draft gymnasts as young as six years old in their National Gymnastics program. If we want to be the best, we have to adopt what works from the best while developing our own strategies based on our unique culture and natural athletics abilities,” she said.

Ten-year-old gymnast, Rihanna Williams, endorsed the series, saying: “We are the future of gymnastics. We train 5-6 hours, five days per week and it’s very hard. We do this because we love gymnastics and at the end of the day, we want to make Jamaica proud.

“We hope you will not leave us but stay with us and help us grow as we will be Olympians in the future. Thank you again Mayberry Investments, we will make you proud to be part of our family.”

Leon Bailey and Michail Antonio will not be available for the Reggae Boyz matches against Japan and Serbia that have been scheduled for June as Jamaica’s senior squad continues its preparation for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July and the World Cup qualifiers in September.

When former Kingston College student-athlete Sherwayne Allen graduated from Auburn University on Saturday, May 1, he was the only black graduate with a degree in Pure Mathematics. He was also the first member of his immediate family to graduate from university.

Saturday also marked the end of a journey of acquiring his first degree and the start of another, his pursuit of a Master’s in the field of Data Sciences.

Looking back at that day, Allen said it was an emotional time for him.

“I had mixed emotions at my graduation. When I think back to all the obstacles I have faced from Jamaica, in college, being the only black kid in the majority of these classes and was the only black graduate in Mathematics, to now reaching the climax of it all, I was elated so much so that I almost cried,” he told Sportsmax.TV.

"Being the first of my immediate family to go to a university is a great accomplishment for me. Not having my parents experiencing university, made it somewhat of a challenge as certain questions I could not ask them and would have to seek outside help. But my parents are extremely proud of my achievements.

“However, I also had feelings of uncertainty of my next move, although I have opportunities awaiting me. The emotions were so wild that two weeks prior I could not stay asleep. Most days I only got four hours of rest, even throughout my finals and leading up to the big day."

Growing up, life itself was challenging for Allen. The only child for Wayne and Sherrell Allen, Sherwayne was born into humble circumstances in Kingston where he spent the first six years of his life. He revealed that those early years were not easy for him or his family.

“Well, life for me growing up in Richmond Park was a challenge. Some days were worse than others, whether it was the occasional gunshots that would echo or the financial constraints of my parents which motivated me to want better for myself,” he said.

“I am the only child for both my parents. As far I can remember, initially, my dad was working at the JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company) in Spanish Town before being laid off, while my mom went to school for fashion designing at Garmex in downtown Kingston.”

His parents eventually separated and he and his mother moved to Spanish Town, St. Catherine as she sought a better life for herself and her then six-year-old son.

“I moved to Angels (Estates) because my parents were having problems and my mom wanting a better life for us as a family. However, my dad did not come with us,” he recalled.

It was while living in Spanish Town he discovered his passion for engineering.

“I always had an interest in creating traps, trying to catch rodents in my backyard which was always unsuccessful,” he recalled. “However, this sparked my enthusiasm for the field of engineering primarily civil engineering.”

While attending Angels Primary School, Sherwayne developed a liking for sports, specifically football and athletics but it was not until he attended Kingston College, that he found his niche in track and field as well as a lasting friendship with 200/400m standout Akeem Bloomfield.

“Kingston College was one of the best decisions of my life. Due to the ‘all-roundedness’ of the institution, I was exposed to the different lifestyles of my brothers from different parts of Jamaica. While at KC, I started my career in the 800m before transitioning to the 400m hurdles as I thought it would be easier in obtaining a scholarship to study abroad,” he said.

“My friendship with Akeem started from fifth form while we both doing the sciences and track and field at the same time. I remember that year after we both started the season well, closer to the end we got injured. I got injured before Champs while he got injured during Champs and missing an opportunity to make a Jamaica team,” he recalled.

“We then both attended the same extra math class. Coincidentally, we found out we lived in the same neighbourhood.”

Bloomfield, he revealed, influenced his decision to attend Auburn where the bond of friendship became even stronger.

Never an outstanding athlete at KC, Sherwayne did his best to contribute to the school’s pursuit of the coveted Mortimer Geddes trophy, the symbol of high school athletic supremacy at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships. Between 2012 and 2016, he earned valuable points for the school even as he missed out on medals in the 800m and 400m hurdles.

His performances, though, were good enough to win him a scholarship to Auburn University where while still being a middling performer in the 400m hurdles, he rubbed shoulders with World Championships gold medalists Jonielle Smith and Natalliah Whyte and also forged a new friendship with NCAA 400m medalist and World Championship finalist Nathon Allen. He also strengthened the bonds of a friendship that began at KC with Bloomfield.

But leaving Jamaica to attend school in Alabama, proved to be quite a challenge for Sherwayne, who lifted the lid on what life can be like as a student-athlete in a foreign land.

“The transition from Kingston to Auburn for me was a big culture shock as being from Jamaica to  Alabama was an experience. I oftentimes found it boring, accompanied by the fact that 90 per cent of people there were of different ethnicity, had a different culture, and as such had different ways of doing and saying stuff than what I was accustomed to,” he said.

“I always had to make sure my English was clear and slow while communicating which initially was quite annoying.”

There were other more significant challenges as well.

“I initially ventured off to Auburn to become a civil engineer. However, because of my lack of self-discipline at the time, I lost focus. Because of scholarship requirements, I could not retake the class I had failed and had to switch my major. The school wanted me to do Exercise Science or another "easy" major as it would have been easier for me to pass and compete at the same time,” he said.

“However, I had no intentions of doing that. I found Mathematics as a way of staying close to my dream at the time of becoming an engineer.”

He continued: “Life for me being a student-athlete was rough, especially for me doing such a demanding major. I remember day-after-day full of classes. I would have a workout where I was literally on the verge of seeing the face of God!

“I would then have to take my dead legs up to get dinner really quick and head to tutoring. I would be there from 7 to 10, four days a week for the whole semester. The challenges that came with that for me personally was seeing other student-athletes partying, spending little to no time in tutoring and just living their best life. Also being an athlete we had all these responsibilities, such as going to meetings and early morning drug tests while still having to be a student and maintain the grades in classes so that we can compete.”

However, it was not all bad. Having his fellow Jamaicans close by provided some measure of relief to the grind of life as a student-athlete.

“Sharing a dorm with Nathon was good. I didn't know him prior, other than seeing him run and competing against Akeem. However, he was very humble and quiet. We all built a brotherhood and camaraderie, especially seeing that we all came at the same time and being Jamaicans,” he said.

“I have fond memories of when we were all together always making jokes, cooking and playing games together.”

With graduation, Sherwayne has also chosen to close another chapter of his life as a student-athlete.

 “My athletic career is done. I will take pride in watching Akeem, Nathon, Natalliah, Raheem, Jonielle and my other pro friends compete,” he said. 

Track and field legend and coach, Olympian Dennis Johnson, died on Thursday night after a month-long battle with Covid-19.

He was 81.

Considered the architect of the modern Jamaica track programme, Johnson started a sports program at the College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST) now the University of Technology in 1971. It was a programme that yielded Anthony Davis, Jamaica’s first home-grown Olympic athlete.

As head coach at CAST, Johnson, in the 1980s created the famous Bolts of Lightning 4x100m relay team, the first club side to break 40 seconds for the sprint relay. He also led CAST to a more than decade-long dominance of the Intercollegiate Championships.

It was Johnson in partnership with UTech and Stephen Francis that saw the world-famous MVP Track Club having its base on the college campus and producing a number of world-beating athletes like Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Melaine Walker, Michael Frater, Shelly-Ann Frater-Pryce and Elaine Thompson.

Johnson, who was also Sports Director at Utech, was also an outstanding athlete. While attending San Jose State University in the United States, equalled the 100-yard world record of 9.3 seconds three times over a six-week span from March 11- May 5 that year.

Unfortunately, injury prevented him from competing for an NCAA title that year.

He was a member of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team that finished fourth at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Fifth in the 110-yards at the British Empire Games of 1962, he was forced to withdraw from the 220 yards with a groin injury.

Johnson, who was affectionately called ‘DJ’ was inducted into the San Jose State Spartans Hall of Fame. In 2001, the same year he was awarded the Order of Distinction (OD) by the government of Jamaica. He was awarded the UTech Chancellor’s medal in 2009 and in 2012, UTech renamed its athletes’ residence, previously known as the Track House, in Johnson's honour.

Michael Ricketts, President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) said he is deeply saddened after learning of the sudden death of former National player, Tremaine “Tan Tan” Stewart. 

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.

Ever since COVID-19 took real effect on the Jamaican landscape around March 2020, the local sporting fraternity has taken a battering, with the vast majority of disciplines forced off the playground and their architects, the sportsmen and sportswomen, unable to parade their skills.

A record number of coaches across the spectrum of sports have responded to the call of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) in respect of a hi-level coaches' course, which will be delivered by Panam Sports in partnership with the Canadian Coaching Association.

 More than 70 stakeholders have registered their commitment to pursue the course, which will cover Coaching Philosophy and Leadership, Advanced Performance Planning, Energy Systems and Physiology, Strength and Conditioning, Sports Psychology, Advanced Injury Prevention and Recovery Strategies and High-Performance Analysis.

 The call by JOA is in keeping with its developmental strategies of which education and training are critical elements. In a communique to member federations and stakeholders concerning the course, JOA President, Christopher Samuda, made clear that the game plan of the governing body is "to build capacity for today's feats and tomorrow's legacies".

 The course is part of a suite of educational courses that the apex body is continuing to make accessible to stakeholders and supports the Advanced Sports Management Course (ASMC) which the JOA will, for the first time in its history, make available to a cohort in the Diaspora.

 There has never been a response of this magnitude by the sporting fraternity to any of its coaching initiatives.

In applauding the tremendous response to the coaches' course and the ASMC - which continues to be over-subscribed - JOA Secretary General/CEO, Ryan Foster, said: "Our members and stakeholders have not only seized the JOA's vision of the value of education and training but have embraced the known principle that an investment in education pays the best dividends in your working life and is your pension in your twilight years."

The national association for Olympic and non-Olympic sports is driven in creating and investing in lifelong skills and knowledge-based and technically equipped stakeholders. 

Samuda, in commenting on the strategic direction of JOA, stated: "The creation of a sports industry demands a physical and socio-economic infrastructure that is based on viable investments in the human capital and not on hand-outs, for the latter creates a dependency while the former promotes independence and mastery."

 Mastery, in the various disciplines of sport, is the business of the JOA which quite recently also made two calls for opportunities in pursuing master's degrees. The Master of Arts (MA), a postgraduate degree in Sports, Ethics and Integrity, and the Master of Sport Administration (MSP), a postgraduate degree in organizational management, sports marketing and research, are both tenable at international universities.

They will inaugurate an initiative that the JOA has branded ‘Olympic EduPower’ that will provide masters and doctoral educational opportunities for members and stakeholders in empowering them.

 “If sport is to become a sustainable business then the mind must first have and make an educated appointment with destiny, which the body will then be conditioned to keep it," said Samuda.

 Reflecting on Foster's comment last month when announcing that the JOA's pioneering Internship Programme, Samuda said it “is all about self-actualisation and a personal call to own your future in sport”.

 The Internship Programme is currently underway at Olympic Manor, the headquarters of the JOA.

 The JOA will create Olympic history locally, and arguably globally when later this year it makes its Internship Programme available to Jamaicans in the Diaspora. It will also in the second quarter of this year, through its educational ‘Stamina’ forum series roll-out, in collaboration with international federations, customized courses for administrators and coaches as part of its investment in education.

 

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.

 

With the formation of his record label Triple Century Records, Chris Gayle is promising to deliver hits of a different kind in the near future.

The Jamaica Olympic Association and the Olympians Association of Jamaica have paid tribute to Olympian Les Laing, who died on the weekend.

Laing, who was born in Linstead, St Catherine on February 19, 1925, represented Jamaica at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics was a member of the famed 4x400m relay team that won gold in Helsinki. He is the third member of the iconic quartet to have died leaving behind George Rhoden as the only surviving member.

Arthur Wint died in 1992 while Herb McKenley passed in 2007.

“The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) mourns the loss of a member of our household but celebrates the life he lived inspiringly on the track which mirrored the personality of this son of Linstead,” the JOA said in a statement released on Sunday.

“Leslie Alphonso Laing's feats as an Olympian are well documented and we salute him with grateful hands. But more importantly, it is the spirit of the gentlemen which has inspirited generations of athletes and earned the abiding respect of a nation.

“In a world where recorded statistics of sporting achievements are understandably cited in praise of men, the JOA reflects deeply and respectfully on Laing's self-sacrificial service to his country and the soul of his ground-breaking feet.”

Meanwhile, the OAJ described Laing as a hero.

OAJ President Marvin Anderson said he one of the nation's Olympic pioneers.

“Arthur Wint, Laing, Herb McKenley and George Rhoden set a world record 3 minutes 03.9 seconds to defeat a top-class US team at the Games in London,” Anderson said. "His heroic relay run of 47 seconds flat was all the more remarkable because he was a specialist 200-metres man."

Laing, Anderson said, leaves behind a substantial legacy from his days on the track.

“While many Jamaican track stars emerged from the US college circuit, the Linstead-native rose to prominence in Britain as a member of the Polytechnic Harriers Club in London. Fittingly, he made his Olympic debut in that city in 1948, placing sixth in the 200 metres final with McKenley fourth.

 “An injury to Wint in the 4x400 final prompted Laing and his teammates to vow to return and win four years later in Helsinki, Finland. Running faster in every round, Laing became the first Jamaican to reach an Olympic sprint final twice and improved his finish to fifth place. Despite his short stature, he delivered a stout-hearted second leg run to help Jamaica to fulfil the promise made in London.”

 Laing retired after a 1954 season when he narrowly missed taking the sprint double at the CAC Games in Mexico City where he won the 200 and took silver in the 100m.

Laing was recognized by the respected US publication TRACK AND FIELD NEWS, which listed him in its annual world rankings three times - at number 9 in 1948, number 10 in 1949 and at number 9 once more in 1953.

"His accomplishments paved the way for Jamaica in the sprints," Anderson said.

 “In fact, no other Jamaican would reach back-to-back Olympic 200m finals until Don Quarrie did it in 1976 and 1980. Mr Laing was a pioneer who showed us what was possible for us in the 200 and thanks to the start he provided, Jamaica has excelled in that event."

Laing was married to 1948 high jump finalist Carmen Phipps.

 

The Jamaican government has ordered the immediate shutdown of the Reggae Boyz training camp at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

The demand has come in the wake of news that Jamaica recorded 263 new cases of infections, the highest numbers since the pandemic began almost a year ago. Jamaica has recorded more than 355 deaths in that time.

Recent reports also said a number of players in the camp have also been infected by the Covid-19 virus.

With those concerns in mind, Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport in a letter to the President of the Jamaica Football Federation, Michael Ricketts, is demanding that the un-authorized camp must cease with immediate effect.

She is also demanding that all participants in the camp remain at the facility to reduce the risk of infection and that the necessary application to host the camp be made to the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

“We are now in receipt of the application for hosting the training camp to commence tomorrow, February 6, 2021, which was dated February 4, 2021,” the minister wrote.

“Please note that training cannot commence without the approval of the Director-General, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), with the Ministry of Health and Wellness advising that there is no breach and it is safe to resume. Therefore, there can be no training today or tomorrow and not until approval has been given.

“Therefore, there can be no training today or tomorrow and not until approval has been given.”

 

 

 

 

 

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