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.”

 

 

 

 

 

A special fund to assist former Jamaica’s national representatives who have fallen on the hard times is to be established by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has expressed deep sadness at the passing of the Jamaican footballer Luton Shelton.

Former Jamaican national striker Luton Shelton died today after being found unresponsive at home.

The Jamaica Football Federation and the Reggae Boyz made the first important move towards rapprochement and a unified, happy and prepared team leading into the World Cup qualifiers this September, said a statement from the JFF on Thursday.

The players are out of contract and both sides say they are willing to work as hard as possible to arrive at an agreement before the next FIFA window in March.

More than 20 players met with a committee put together by JFF President Michael Ricketts in what they described as a ‘very amicable atmosphere’ on Tuesday. 

The players agreed that the meeting went well and that it augurs well for future discussions.

"The players can confirm that we did in fact have discussions with the JFF on Tuesday,” the Reggae Boyz said in a statement obtained by Sportsmax.TV on Thursday.

“They have promised to share a draft contract, and we have asked that they give us two weeks after receipt of that contract for consultation and review. We consider this a step in the right direction".

The players, including captain Andre Blake and Damion Lowe, were presented with the current JFF financials and brought up to speed with the immediate to medium-term plans of the federation, the federation said.

“They were allowed as many questions as needed and then presented with documents which they will peruse among themselves for two weeks. Another meeting will be scheduled then.”

The JFF team was led by Head of the JFF Financial Committee Dennis Chung and was comprised of former President of the Cricket West Indies Dave Cameron, JFF Vice Presidents Raymond Anderson and Peter Reid as well as Technical Committee chairman and Chartered accountant Rudolph Speid.

Track Coach Omar Hawse believes the Legacy Athletics is beginning its journey as a track club with one of the best group of athletes any club in Jamaica has ever started with.

The Jamaica Football Federation is mourning the death of Maurice ‘Danny’ Lyn, the owner and former coach of Constant Spring FC, who died today after a battle with cancer at the age of 72.

For more than three decades Lyn was a major player in the Jamaican football community. He was born in Hong Kong before his family migrated to Jamaica coached Constant Spring to several Major League in the 1987/’88, ‘90/91 and ‘92/’93 seasons. Constant Spring won a fourth title during the 2017/’18 season. The team also won the inaugural Jackie Bell Knockout competition in the 1987/88 season.

Lyn also led the club to its only Premier League final during the 1994/’95 season where they lost 1-0 to Reno in the final. Constant Spring also won the only edition of the National ‘A’ League in 1999/2000.

In 2011, Lyn was awarded the Abe Alexander Award from the Kingston and St. Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) for outstanding contribution to local football.

The JFF said Lyn was committed to local football.

“Danny Lyn, as he was widely known, gave his heart and his life to the sport he loved. He was active in every area of the sport, although coaching and mentoring were his passion,” said the JFF in a statement today.

“Danny contributed to the success and livelihood of countless youngsters over many years. The Constant Spring Football Club and the Constant Spring Football Field stand as monuments to his support of the beautiful game.

“His close association with JFF affiliates the Kingston and St. Andrew Football Association and the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association kept football alive and kicking day and night. We are forever indebted to him.

“The JFF through President Mr Michael Ricketts conveys sincerest condolences to his family; close friends and the KSAFA family.”

News of Lyn’s death drew reaction from several members of the coaching fraternity.

Among them, was Andrew Price, who coaches the Humble Lion Football Club in Jamaica’s Premier League. As a student, Price played for St George’s College, which was also Lyn’s alma mater.

“His contribution to the development of football in Jamaica cannot be quantified. We have lost a sterling contributor to football in this country,” said Price, who is also a member of the history-making Reggae Girlz coaching staff. “A man who changed many lives. Walk good Knight. We are much the richer to have shared your life with us. RIP Danny Lyn.”

National U23 Coach Donovan Duckie was also devastated by the news.

“As a boy, I had such passion for coaching, so I would always take the bus to see Constant Spring FC play in the National Premier League.  I never missed a word you spoke at half-time. Sleep well coach. My heart is saddened,” Duckie said in a post on Facebook.

Harbour View Football Club, in a statement on their Facebook page, shed some light on Lyn’s role in the formation of Jamaica’s Premier League.

“Condolences on the passing of our good friend, football stalwart and Constant Spring FC co-owner Maurice 'Danny' Lyn. We lose yet another 'Father-Figure' of the local game, who gave his all to grow the game through his club, KSAFA with the JFF,” said the statement.

 “In 1998, Danny helped to host the first real meeting of the newly envisioned Premier League Clubs, at "The Fish Place" across the road from his CSFC then the restaurant of Vin Blaine.

 Montego Bay duo of Seba United's Bruce Gaynor and Wadadah FC's benefactor, Gene Gray, (now deceased) travelled into Kingston to meet with Carvel Stewart (HVFC), Bradley Stewart (Hazard Utd), Dennis Gordon (White Horses FC), and Dawn Spence-Heron (Tivoli Gardens FC).

Rest in Peace Danny, your deeds were well planted for growth.”

 

The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange says her ministry will be moving to finalize the transformation and streamlining of the national sports entities during this calendar year.

The national sports entities are the Sports Development Foundation, Independence Park Limited, and the Institute of Sports.

Minister Grange gave the update during a meeting of the Board of Directors of Independence Park Limited on Wednesday. She said the transformation was aimed at creating a more efficient and more effective government sport system.

Minister Grange urged the new board to pick up the pace of project implementation.  She said it was vital that the National Stadium and Trelawny Stadium infrastructure development project, which was affected by delays caused by covid-19 and weather conditions, get back on track as soon as possible.

The proposal for the Redevelopment and Upgrading of the National Stadium and Trelawny Stadium is going through all the required stages of the Public Investment Management Secretariat, including submission of a comprehensive project proposal, architectural drawings and the development of a 5-year Business Plan.

The project is now at the final stage which includes submitting financial projections before it can be recommended to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for funding.

The members of the Board of Independence Park Limited are: Dr. the Honourable Michael Fennell (Chairman), Mr David Shirley (Deputy Chairman), Mrs Annmarie Heron, Assistant Commissioner Terrence Bent, Lieutenant Colonel Dameon Creary, Mr Lenford Salmon, Mr Carlton Dennis, Ms Audrey Chin, Mr Edward Barnes, Dr Peter Charles, Ms Shaneek Clacken, Ms Stefani Dewar, Major Desmon Brown, General Manager (ex officio)

The members have been appointed to serve for two years.  The new board was constituted in keeping with the National Policy for Gender Equality to ensure that a minimum of 30 per cent of either sex makes up the composition of government boards.

 

With 13584 runs, 22 centuries and 85 50s under his belt Christopher Henry Gayle is arguably the greatest T20 batsman in history.

A personal health crisis is what Olympian Michael Frater said got him interested in the medicinal benefits of cannabis and eventually led to the opening of the 4/20 Therapeutic Bliss dispensary in Manor Park, Kingston on Saturday.

Frater, 38, represented Jamaica at the senior level for more than a decade, winning gold medals as a member of Jamaica’s world-record-setting 4x100m relay teams at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in 2011 and again at the London Olympics in 2012.

He also won a silver medal in the 100m at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland. He was also a 100m champion at the 2003 Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic.

However, about five years ago persistent problems with his knees forced him to retire.

At Saturday’s launch, he explained how those knee problems introduced him to the healing properties of cannabis.

“I had very bad knees, and I remember waking up one day, and my knees were swollen, and I couldn’t walk. I went to the University Hospital (of the West Indies) where I met with Dr (Carl) Bruce and ran some tests but nobody could figure out what was wrong,” he told the gathering that included Jamaica’s Minister of Sports Olivia Grange, former world record holder Asafa Powell and Jamaica and West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle.

Christopher Samuda, President of the Jamaica Olympic Association and Ali McNab, an advisor to the sports minister were also in attendance and were in rapt attention as Frater shared his harrowing experience.

“I had an IAAF (World Athletics) function in Monaco. I remember leaving on Monday and got there on Tuesday and I couldn’t even walk off the plane. They had to send a wheelchair for me,” he recalled.

Initially, doctors in Monaco believed his condition was the result of doping, he said, but subsequent tests disproved their theories even though they were still unable to determine what was the cause of the constant swelling and fluid build-up in his knees.

He spent two weeks in hospital there where doctors ‘patched’ him up enough to enable him to fly home.

A subsequent visit to a medical facility in Florida was also unable to help him get any closer to identifying what was wrong with his knees, he said which left him fearing he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

It was then that his father, Lindel Frater, suggested he tried cannabis oil. He tried it and within a month he felt ‘brand new’, he said.

“I started studying a lot about it and realized that a drug that has been taboo for most of my life is really a miracle drug. It’s really a drug that once taken properly with the proper prescription, the medicinal purposes are exponential.”

Minister Grange applauded the retired Olympian and praised him for his initiative in opening the dispensary. She eventually made the first purchase of medicinal marijuana. Samuda also shared similar sentiments while praising Frater for his venture into the cannabis industry.

Gayle, meanwhile, said Frater’s venture was an example for other retired athletes to emulate.

“I am a big supporter of Michael's career and now his business venture, and from a sportsman's point of view, there is life after your original career and to actually venture in a business is good for him and we are here to support him 100 per cent,” said Gayle.

Powell, who was Frater’s teammate on several national teams, said, his friend and colleague, was always a budding entrepreneur.

“From ever since, Michael has always been the brains among all of us. He has always been driven, business-oriented. I have always admired that about him,” said the former 100m world record holder who brought his wife Alyshia along.

“It’s kind of intimidating sometimes when you’re talking to him, and he is saying some stuff I don’t even know about, so I have always known he would make this step into business.

“He keeps pushing and I am very, very happy for him.”

Jamaica’s Sports Minister Olivia Grange has revealed that the resurfacing of the track at the National Stadium in Kingston should be complete soon and that work on the one at the Montego Bay Sports Complex at the other end of the island is to begin soon.

The refurbishing work was carried out by German company BSW, who laid the previous surface in 2010.

The installation of the previous track in Kingston was completed in March 2011 and was expected to last for at least 10 years in line with international standards.

According to AthleticsBusiness, most modern tracks are built in three layers: a paved asphalt substrate, a rubber performance layer and a textured rubber top layer. Ideally, laser-levelling the asphalt to within a 3-mm tolerance is the first step toward making a consistent running surface across the entire oval. The middle layer can be poured on-site or manufactured in advance and delivered to the site — the latter scenario ensures the greatest consistency in terms of thickness.

According to Minister Grange, most of that work has now been done and the rest should be completed within days.

“The resurfacing of the National Stadium track is 90 per cent complete. We are a few days behind due to rain, but the resurfacing will be completed by the middle of next week, after which, the marking of lanes and boxes will commence,” the minister told Jamaica’s Daily Gleaner.

She said that after the marking is completed, World Athletics will send a technician to test the track and issue the expected certification of the Class One track, the highest possible certification.

The Minister had announced in November 2020 that work on the stadium track was set to begin and that the work on the one in Montego Bay was scheduled for the 2021-2022 financial year. She had asked that the Sports Development Foundation treat the Catherine Hall Sports Complex as a priority for the next financial year which starts on April 1, 2021.

At the time, she said two factors would determine when the work gets going at the National Stadium; the first is that because the track has to be laid on a completely dried surface, it must await the end of seasonal rains.

The other factor is the ability of the manufacturers’ representatives, BSW of Germany, to come to Jamaica to supervise the project and this will depend on covid restrictions.

The resurfacing comes at an opportune time as Jamaica is expected to have its national championships in June to select a team to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan scheduled for July 23 – August 8.

 

The Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) presented Guy’s Hill High School, Ensom City Primary School and Eltham Park Primary School with a total of 95 Samsung tablets at a ceremony held at the JADCO in Kingston on Wednesday.

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