Many athletes have expressed their joy after competing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. They have done so through their social media pages and interviews.

 Antigua’s Joella Lloyd is one such athlete. She competed in the women’s 100 metres where she comfortably won heat 3 of the preliminary round in a time of 11.55 seconds. She then went on to finish 7th in heat1 with a slightly improved time of 11.54 seconds. That heat was won by the USA’s Teahna Daniels while Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith came second and Murielle Ahoure from the Ivory Coast finished third.

 Via her Instagram account, she posted a photo of herself waving at the start of her race with the caption, “Walking out and lining up for the 100m at the Tokyo Olympics was everything I dreamt it would be.”

 She then expressed gratitude to all those who supported her throughout the season.

 The caption ended, “All the love and encouragement has not gone unnoticed and I’m extremely grateful for it. It was a pleasure representing Antigua and the Vols on the big stage. Antigua, I love y’all plenty plenty and we’ll be back at it next year!”    

The Olympic Games serve as the world’s biggest showcase of sporting talent.

For the Caribbean region, when we hear Olympics, the sport we mainly think about is track & field.

With the region’s rich and storied history of success in the sport, gold, silver and bronze medals are often used to measure the success of respective athletes.  It is, however, far from the only stand.

For some countries, having a representative on the biggest global track & field stage in the world is worth just as much or more than any individual medal.

Antigua & Barbuda is one of those countries and the athlete who has represented them the best on the big stage is sprinter Daniel Bailey.

Bailey, the 100m sprint specialist, has represented his nation in four Olympic Games and five World Championships.

His best result came at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany.

The headliners were Olympic champion and world record holder Usain Bolt and defending double sprint champion from the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Tyson Gay.

In the fastest race in history, Bolt ran 9.58 to destroy the world record, Gay ran an unbelievable 9.71 to finish second and Asafa Powell finished third in 9.84.

Bailey just narrowly missed out on a historic medal for Antigua & Barbuda, finishing fourth in that race with a time of 9.93.  It wasn’t his first major championship appearance, but it was also when Bailey became a household name in men’s sprinting.

However, Bailey’s first time representing Antigua and Barbuda on the biggest stage of global athletics came five years earlier in 2004.

As a 17-year-old, he carried the flag for his country during the opening ceremony of the Athens Olympics. It is a memory he will carry with him forever.

“I was elated. I was really, really excited to be holding the flag for my country Antigua & Barbuda. A couple of days before, we had a meeting to decide who would do it and when they shouted my name and said ‘Daniel Bailey, you’re going to hold the flag’, it was a special feeling because I know how much it meant for an upcoming athlete to be holding the flag for his nation,” Bailey said.

To put that into perspective, he carried the flag at those Olympics just one month after competing at the World Junior Championships in Grosseto, Italy where he finished 4th in the 100 metres in a time of 10.39.

At those Athens Olympics, Bailey finished 6th in his 100 metres heat in 10.51.

Four years later, at the Beijing Olympics, Bailey, then 21, was again the flag bearer.

During the Games, he advanced to the quarter-finals after finishing second to Bolt in 10.24 in the preliminary round.

Bailey then ran 10.23 to finish 4th but failed to advance from his quarterfinal, a race which saw him lined up against Jamaica’s former world record holder Asafa Powell and American Walter Dix, who eventually won the bronze.

A year after those Olympics would see Bailey enter the prime of his sprinting career.

He would finish 4th at the 2009 World Championships and then fifth at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.

On July 17, 2009, in Paris, Bailey ran a personal best and an Antiguan national record of 9.91.

Bailey then carried his nation’s flag at the third straight Olympics in London 2012 where he competed in the 100 metres.

Running in heat 4, against Bolt once again, Bailey would run a time of 10.12 to finish 2nd   and advance to the semi-finals.

Bailey then lined up against Bolt, American Ryan Bailey and  Richard Thompson, the silver medallist from the 2008 games in his semi-final.

He finished 6th in that race in 10.16 and failed to reach the Olympic final once again.

Bailey admits that he had entered into those Olympics with high hopes but suffered some setbacks along the way.

“I had it in my mind to make my first Olympic final. I was really working hard that year and then I got an injury that set me back a little bit. The first week I got to London I caught a bad flu, and it took a toll on my body. I got eliminated in the semi-finals, but I think my overall performance was good based on what was happening.” 

Fast forward four years to the 2016 Rio Olympics and Bailey became one of the few athletes in history to ever be their country’s flag bearer at four straight Olympic Games opening ceremonies.

That year, he competed in Heat 2 of the men’s 100 metres and finished 2nd in 10.20 behind eventual silver medallist Justin Gatlin and advanced to the semi-finals.

He was then slated to appear in semi-final 3 but did not show up for the start due to injury.

Bailey may not have had the medal haul of many Caribbean greats but he has competed at the highest level of the sport for more than a decade and is a role model for sprinters hailing from smaller Caribbean islands like his native Antigua & Barbuda.

“You have to love it and enjoy it,” were Bailey’s words of wisdom for a new generation of up-and-coming athletes.

“My word to the up-and-coming athletes is to go for your goals. Whatever you believe in, nobody can stop that. Always work hard and smart and remember that dedication is the key to success at all times.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antigua and Barbuda Head Coach Mikele Leigertwood has praised his team for the quality of their play that saw them go unbeaten in the latest round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers and go top of Group A over El Salvador and Grenada.

St Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, The Dominican Republic and Guatemala opened their World Cup qualifying campaigns with victories on Wednesday night.

Following his world-leading 100-metre time set at the Tropical Elite Sprints Meet in Miami on Saturday, Antigua and Barbuda's CejHae Greene said he did not expect to go so fast so early.

He did say, however, that he intends to go a bit faster over the course of the season as the Olympic Games draw nearer.

Also at the meet held at the Tropical Park Stadium, Jamaica’s Akeem Bloomfield and Natalliah Whyte, Greene’s MVP International training partners, enjoyed impressive wins over 200m.

The 25-year-old Greene was second in his preliminary round heat in 10.27 behind the USA’s World Championship 400m medalist, Fred Kerley, who won in 10.15. However, he managed to turn the tables on his more celebrated American rival in the final, winning in 10.01.

Kerley was second in 10.11, the third-fastest time in the world this year, while Jeremy Bascomb was third in 10.51.

Greene said the time came as a bit of a shock.

“I was surprised to see 10.01 show up on the clock but coach been saying I am in good shape, I have been training well so once I executed a good race I should run fairly fast, but in my head, fairly fast meant 10.1/10.2, so it just shows that if you listen to your coach and do what you have been doing in practice you should be fine,” said Greene, who ran with a trailing wind of 1.2m/s.

He revealed that having Fred Kerley in the race also played its part in his fast season-opener that bumped China’s Bingtian Su’s 10.05 that was run earlier Saturday, from the top spot.

“Fred’s presence made me have to focus a little bit more because we all know Fred is fast so it kind of forced me to compete at a higher level,” Greene said.

“Fred’s presence really changed the game because I knew I had to execute a really good race because Fred is fast and he is strong, he is one of the best 400m athletes in the world so I know I had to execute the start very well to win the race.”

Realistically, it should not have been that much of a surprise for the 2016 Olympian given how well he says he has been training at MVP International’s base camp in Florida. He said the competitive nature of training has helped him bring out his best.

“My training group definitely helped me push a little harder this year. Being alongside Akeem Bloomfield, Nathon Allen and Teray Smith each day at practice, it gets really competitive and we push each other and we go at it. Every day is like a race so I think that really helped me to push myself to be in a lot better shape this early,” he said while revealing that he intends to dip below 10 seconds in time for the Olympic Games this summer.

“The goal is to go sub-10 and once we keep healthy and keep listening to the coach and keep executing races, getting race sharp, that should happen. So my goal is to keep improving each week in practice, stay healthy and go on to the Olympics and do great things.”

He said he is likely to race next in Clermont on April 4, where he could be running the 200m.

“I want to improve my 200 times. I know once I can improve over the 200m it should translate pretty good into the 100 so I’ll probably give it a shot down there.”

Bloomfield was also impressive at the meet seemingly exerting relatively little effort in winning the 200m in 20.75 over Teray Smith (20.90) and Zaza Wellington (21.05), respectively.

In the women’s event, Whyte, a sprint relay gold medalist at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, was the fastest Jamaican in the world with her winning time of 22.88.

In the time trial, Angela Tenorio was second-best in 23.06 while Ashley Kelly was third in 24.18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Indies fast bowling legend Curtly Ambrose has applied for the position of elite pace bowling coach at the England and Wales Cricket Board, the bowler confirmed on Wednesday.

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