President of the Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, Chris Stokes, admits it is a special feeling to see the country’s four-man men’s team heading back to the Winter Olympics for the first time in 24 years.

Inescapably, whenever a Jamaica team qualifies for the Olympics, an inexorable link is made to the 1993 smash hit Cool Runnings, which starred the late John Candy and Doug E. Doug that went on to become a cult classic.

Unlike the movie, however, the hard yards put in to get to the Olympics, for the nation that has never seen a drop of snow, has always been real.

Stokes was a last-minute alternate when the team crashed the sled during the historic catapult down the ice in the four-man competition, in Calgary 1988, for the squad that would become immortalised in film.  He and others have pushed on ever since.  The team has subsequently appeared at another eight Olympic Games.  The men’s team, however, last appeared at the Winter sports spectacle in 2014 when a two-man team of Marvin Dixon and Winston Watts finished in 24th place and have not taken part as a four-man unit since 1998.  In the upcoming Olympics, the men’s team will make a triumphant return, but the team has also qualified for the two-man event and women’s monobob to appear in a historic three events.

“It has a special place in my heart to know that we will be in the four-man event once again at the Olympics, having been a part of that team myself (In 1988) it gives me great satisfaction,” Stokes said.

“It's not something that we take for granted it's hard work every time to qualify and it is a huge step for us to have three teams at the Games this year.”

With a bit more luck it could have been four, with the women’s two-woman team finishing just outside of the automatic qualification spots based on a tiebreaker.  The team could still appear at the Games having secured the position as the first alternate, should any of the automatic qualifiers withdraw from the event.

 “The two-woman team of Audra Segree and Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian were close.  They were in the qualifying spots for most of the way but in the last few weeks, I think some very questionable decisions were made when it comes to qualification.  I can’t say that I was surprised because these things happen, but it was unfortunate.”

The women’s team made its debut at the 2018 Winter Games with Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell taking part in the event.  Despite the possibility of that team being left out this time around, qualifying three teams is not a feat to be scoffed at.

“We have an absolutely outstanding program and we don’t take it for granted.  We have a strong administration and an elite coaching staff that are wanted all over the world.”

Jamaica and Oregon sprinter, Kemba Nelson, picked up where she left off last season with a narrow win in the women’s 60m at the Cougar Classic Invitational in Spokane.

The reigning NCAA champion only narrowly got the better of Double Pillar Athletics sprinter Destiny Smith-Barnett.  In fact, both athletes were given the same time of 7.19 after crossing the line but it was Nelson who had the better time when the photo finish was used.  Oregon’s Jadyn Mays was third in 7.27. 

Elsewhere jumper Lamara Distin, a sophomore at Texas A&M, cleared an indoor personal-best 1.88m to win the women’s high jump at the two-day Ted Nelson Invitational.  Nissi Kabongo of Stephen Austin recorded the second-best mark with 1.85m, while Texas’ Allyson Andress was third with 1.73.

The West Indies suffered a historic loss at the hands of Ireland after the visitors secured a two-wicket win to claim a 2-1 series win at Sabina Park on Sunday.

The win was not just the Irish team’s first triumph over the West Indies in an ODI series, but the come-from-behind victory was only the second over a full member team. Prior to that, the team defeated Zimbabwe at home in 2019.

After dismissing the West Indies for just 212, the Irish survived a late-game wobble but still had enough to get over the line after getting to 214-8 in the 45th over.

The effort was anchored by half-centuries from Andy McBrine and Harry Tector.

Earlier, the West Indies were off to a fast with Shai Hope cracking 53 from just 39 balls at the top of the innings, as he did the majority of the scoring in an opening stand of 72 in 11 overs with Justin Greaves.  However, things fell apart when he and Greaves were caught off the bowling of Craig Young in quick succession.  The hosts went on to lose the next three wickets for just four runs as the middle order collapsed when Nicholas Pooran, Shamarh Brooks, and skipper Kieron Pollard all spent very little time at the crease.

Jason Holder ensured at least a competitive score with an impressive 44 but was run out, with West Indies all out for 212.  Odean Smith remained unbeaten on 20 from 10 balls.

 

Former DJ Benjamin Alexander will become the first man to represent Jamaica, in skiing, at the Winter Olympics after qualifying for the Games last week.

Alexander will make his debut in the men’s giant slalom and qualified for the event after finishing seventh at the Cape Verde National Ski Championships on January 12.

Born to a Jamaican father and English mother, the athlete, now 38, did not take up the sport until 5 years ago while on a visit to Canada.  Now he will number among a handful of Jamaicans, 14 to be exact, that have made an appearance at the Games.  The journey was anything but simple.

"The biggest emotion I have right now is relief. I have put my entire life into this, my savings, my reputation, absolutely everything. It's taken 200% of my all to get here,” Alexander said.

Like so many, Alexander admits to being a fan of cult classic Cool Runnings, the now immortal story that paid tribute to the appearance of the Jamaica team at the 1988 Calgary Games.

"Had it not been for that movie and my friends making jokes about me being like Cool Runnings I don't think this plan would have been concocted,” Alexander said.

He hopes at the very least to be an inspiration.

"I don't want to take anything away from the people who started from the age of two.

"My story is all about participation and hopefully inspiring the next generation of Jamaican children to start earlier than 32."

Jamaica Reggae Boy Liam Moore has been stripped of the club captaincy by struggling Championship outfit Reading who have taken exception to the player’s ambitions of moving away from the club.

Reading made the announcement via its official website, making it clear it had become frustrated with the player in recent months.

 “Over the course of the last few months, centre-back Liam Moore has spoken with manager Veljko Paunovic and directors of the club to state his clear desire to leave Reading Football Club and pursue his career elsewhere,” the statement read.

“Obviously we are disappointed that Liam, a player awarded one of the club’s most significant contracts, has now stated his intention to move on. Whilst we have patiently waited for his representatives to provide us with options for us to consider in helping him fulfil that request, no offer or opportunity has been presented to the club to date,” it added.

Moore, who joined the club in 2016, following a loan spell at Bristol City, has gone on to make 216 appearances for the club.  Future appearances could be harder to come by.

“Although we have undeniably experienced a very difficult first half to our season, due in part to an unimaginable injury crisis which has most recently left us devoid of almost all our fit or available defensive options, we still demand loyalty, focus, and committed performances from every individual who pulls on a Reading shirt in front of our fans. And we expect our players, particularly our new captain, to wear the crest with pride and dedicate their total focus to the club on behalf of its loyal fanbase.”

Moore has since expressed surprise at the club’s decision via his social media account.

“Incredible shocked by the statement released tonight.  The player said via his IG handle.”

St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS) secured their spot in the semifinal of the ISSA Ben Francis Cup following after cruising to a 2-0 win over Vere Technical.

After enterprising play early on Negus Daley gave STETHS the lead when he slipped by his defender at the area and fired the ball past Vere goalkeeper Michael Panton. 

With Vere finding it tough to create legitimate goal-scoring opportunities, Michael Jerman made the result safe for STETHS in the 56th minute.  After rapidly closing down defender Nevaughn Myrie, the industrious player sprinter away from the rest of the backline before lofting the ball over the advancing Panton and into the net.

Elsewhere, Frome got the better of Munro on the back of a goal from Javel Clarke.  The hard-sprinting Clarke finished with geometric precision after being played through on goal from a perfectly weighted pass from Fabian Forbes.

In other matches, a Shaquille Campbell double led Manchester High to a 3-0 win over Christiana and Edwin Allen also moved into the semifinals after a 2-1 win over Cornwall College.

 

Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) Douglas Camacho is confident the country will benefit from hosting the ICC U19 World Cup, despite spectators not being allowed to attend matches.

The tournament, which will get underway on Friday will be played across the Caribbean territories of St Kitts, Antigua, and Guyana, in addition to T&T.

With case numbers for the Covid-19 pandemic remaining high, however, the T&T venues, Queen’s Park Oval, Brian Lara Cricket Academy, and Diego Martin Sporting Complex will only be occupied by players and officials.

Despite that fact, however, Camacho expects the tournament to be a success.

 “We wouldn’t be able to have spectators at attendance. While this is a downer for some, I don’t think this will impact upon the quality of the tournament itself or on the organisation that has been put in place,” Camacho said.

“The facilities, both for training and competitive matches, are world-renowned, world-class and the best of the best,” he added.

 “We are very confident that all the players, officials, attendees will have a wonderful experience, that would be to the benefit of Trinidad and Tobago.”

The tournament will get underway at the  

Providence Stadium, in Guyana, on Friday, with the West Indies playing against Australia.

Out-of-favour Windies batsman Shimron Hetmyer has targeted putting together longer spells at the crease, as opposed to a typically stroke-filled but risky approach that has long been his trademark.

The 25-year-old was left out of the ongoing West Indies series against Ireland, after failing a fitness test a few weeks ago.  Since then, the player has been working on the issue in his home country Guyana.  In the meantime, the batsman has been preparing for the upcoming season of the Regional 4-day competition with the Guyana Harpy Eagles.

Recently, the player spent 300-minutes plus at the crease during the team’s Best of Best 4-Day trial match at Albion last week.  According to reports, in addition to the typical stroke play and skill, the player did plenty of running between the wickets for his knock of 149.  He is hoping to put together similar performances at the highest level.

“I just got out there and tried to bat as long as I possibly could, and try to help my team to win in whatever way possible. I try to accumulate, and just to be there as long as possible. It is really something I am trying to bring into my game, instead of playing that flashy innings and just batting a couple of balls,” Hetmyer told the Guyana Times.

“I just try to be there as long as possible, and just help my team. Even if we cannot win it, I can try to draw it. That is basically along the lines I am thinking right now,” he added.

Over the last few years, Hetmyer has been known for his exploits in the shorter formats.  The batsman has not played Test cricket since 2019 and last appeared in the regional four-day tournament in 2020.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, Michael Ricketts, has been ordered to pay $9m in a default judgment handed down by the Supreme Court.

The ruling, issued on Wednesday, found Ricketts to have acted with malice when he made comments, which amounted to a homophobic slur, against Sporting Central CEO Ainsley Lowe on local radio in 2016.

The JFF president did not contest the charging when the case was brought against him in May 2017 and has now found out the price tag on the judgment.  Ricketts has been ordered to pay general damages in the amount of $8m and aggregated damages of $1m.  In addition, Ricketts will have to issue a public apology via the same radio station the offense was made and issue an apology, approved by the claimant's attorneys, in a Jamaica Gleaner publication before January 22.

Ricketts' derogatory comment came after Lowe challenged him for the post of Clarendon FA president in 2016. Lowe claimed the election was run unconstitutionally and should have been declared null and void.

Garvey Maceo and Mannings will contest the final of the 2022 ISSA daCosta Cup after dramatic semifinal wins at the STETHS Sports Complex.

In the doubleheader, Garvey Maceo stunned a more heavily favoured Clarendon College 3-2, while Mannings battled to a hard-fought penalty shootout win against highflying Dinthill.

In the opening match, Mannings seemed well on the way to a win in regular time after Jahmaleek Porter's 55th-minute header remained buttressed by a stubborn defense line with less than 10 minutes remaining.

In the 83rd minute, however, Shamair Hutchinson pulled the teams level after firing wide of Mannings goalkeeper Ashwani Campbell, who had a stubborn display between the sticks all game.

Mikhail Romans who replaced Campbell heading into the penalty shootout came up with heroics of his own in a 4-2 shootout win, after stopping the shot of Hutchinson, to push Mannings to their first-ever final.

In the second match, Clarendon College proved to be their own worst enemy early on, after a defensive mix-up gifted Gregory Cousins with an open net one minute into first-half stoppage time.  The underdogs doubled their lead soon after the resumption after Cleo Clarke slammed a low fierce shot into the net in the 46th minute.

Jaheim Rose gave Clarendon College a lifeline in the 51st minute with a goal from the penalty spot, but Clarke scored again in the 80th to put the game out of reach.  Damion Abrahams corner went straight into the with five minutes left to give the defending champions faint hope but the goal proved to be a mere consolation.

 

 

Legendary West Indies captain Clive Lloyd was knighted by the British Royal Federation, on Wednesday, after the ceremony was previously postponed due to Covid-19.

Lloyd the former two-time World Cup-winning captain was honoured with a CBEs (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to the sport of cricket.

The Guyana-born batsman played for the English County cricket club of Lancashire between 1968 until 1986.  During that time the team won two One-Day League titles in 1969 and 1970 and four Friends Provident Trophy titles between 1970 and 1975.

Lloyd captained the West Indies between 1974 and 1985 and is one of the most successful Test captains in the sport’s history. During his captaincy, the team had a run of 27 matches without defeat, which included 11 wins in a row.  Lloyd was also named Wisden’s Cricketer of the Year in 1979.

After retiring from the sport, Lloyd went on to manage the West Indies in the late 1990s and also served as a member of the team's panel of selectors.  For his exploits, Lloyd was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

Antigua and Barbuda minister of sport, Daryll Matthew, insists the country’s preparations to host matches for the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup remains on track, despite concerns being raised in recent weeks.

The matches for the tournament will be played in Antigua, Guyana, Saint Kitts, and Trinidad.  Antigua has been earmarked to host the Super League quarter-finals, semi-finals the finals, in addition to the 3rd, 5th, and 7th place playoffs.

The main venues that will be used are the Coolidge Cricket Ground and the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium but there have been questions asked about the state of some of the practice grounds with the tournament set to bowl off on January 14.

 Two of the venues of concern are the Liberta Sports Club and the Police Recreation Ground.  At Liberta, issues were recently brought to the fore regarding the reconstruction of a section of the facility’s fencing and work for the bathrooms.

Matthew insists there is no need to worry, however, as the government fully intends to honour its commitment.

“I just want to assure the public of Antigua and Barbuda that all of the venues will be ready. We’re almost there in terms of our readiness to host what is probably the largest international cricket event on our shores and the nation will be proud,” Matthew told the Antigua Observer.

“The major area of work that needs to be done [in Liberta] is one part of the fencing and so you can be assured that those things will be completed because it is part of our hosting requirement and so we do not have the option to not do it,” he added. 

The ICC Under-19 World Cup will take place between 14 January – 5 February.

“We’re actually hosting the quarterfinals, semifinals, and the finals for the Under-19 World Cup, and immediately following that we will be hosting the Test series with England, the Richards-Botham series and so we will be hosting a four-day warm-up match and then go right into the first Test so for the next eight to 10 weeks we should be having a substantial amount of cricket here in Antigua and Barbuda.”

 West Indies all-rounder Keemo Paul has his heart set on a return to international cricket after closing in on peak physical condition.

Despite being one of the region’s top prospects, the 23-year-old has not played for the West Indies since 2020.  Paul opted out of the team’s tour of England in 2020 but appeared against New Zealand in T20 internationals at the end of that same year.  He has not been seen on the international stage since.

The player has, however, in the meantime taken part in a few T20 leagues and with the regional 4-day tournament looming on the horizon, Paul will be looking to make a statement.  According to reports, the player recently turned in excellent scores in a fitness test conducted in Guyana recently.

 “I am feeling excellent, I think I needed this to get back out there and bowl a few overs to get the feel of four-day cricket. My body is responding really well and for me personally, I am feeling really happy with where I am right now. I bowled a few overs on the trot, I was not feeling tired, I just wanted to put a few balls in the right area and it’s coming out really nice and I am happy with that,” Paul recently told the Guyana Times.

“I was in the Sri Lankan Premier League, it was not the best of tournaments for me, but it is always a learning experience for me; you go to these different leagues in the different continents and you play on different pitches, you gain a lot of experience so that was a major learning curve for me,” he added.

“My body is starting to feel like where it was when I first started playing. I am in the gym and I am trying not to worry about injuries. I just want to try and enjoy my cricket as best as I can. I want to represent my country and hopefully, back to the West Indies team sometime soon.”

In the 2018-2019 season, his last full season in the four-day competition Paul claimed 42 wickets in 10 matches, while scoring 260 runs.

 

The West Indies U19s did not have the best showing ahead of the start of the ICC Under-19 50-over World Cup after suffering a heavy 108 loss to India U19s  team in their first official warm-up match on Sunday.

After being set a challenging target of 279 to win, the young Windies struggled to 170 all out in just 43 overs.  The team got off to a solid enough start when openers Matthew Nandu and Shaqkere Parris put on 30 in the opening overs.   Parris was, however, the first to go after being dismissed by fast bowler Garv Sangwan.  The other batters, unfortunately, followed in quick succession, with Teddy Bishop being dismissed ten balls later, and Sangwan going lbw with the score on 35.

Nandu managed another 30 with Jordan Johnson (10) before falling to the spin of Manav Parakh in the 18th over, with the total at 65 for three.

Windies skipper Akeem Auguste went for a duck after also being bowled by Parakh, Rivaldo Clarke (11), and vice-captain Giovonte Depeiza (10) were also gone midway through the innings.

Nandu eventually departed in the 33rd over with a top-score of 52 off 101 balls, after being a victim of left-arm spinner Aneeshwar Gautam, caught by Kaushal Tambe.  Off-spinner Tambe then wrapped up the innings with the wickets of Carlon Bowen-Tuckett (20), Anderson Mahase (1), and an attacking Johann Layne.

Earlier in the innings, the team set a furious pace after skipper Yash Dhull won the toss.  Things did not start well, however, as the team found themselves at 18 for two in the seventh after excellent work from Layne got rid of openers Harnoor Singh and Angkrish Raghuvanshi.

Dhull, however, led a strong revival with 52 off 67 balls and put on 85 for the third wicket with Shaik Rasheed.   Aradhya Yadav attacked the bowling and added 82 for the fifth wicket with top-scorer Nishant Sindhu, who lashed seven fours and three sixes in an unbeaten 78 off 76 balls, effectively putting the match out of reach.

Scores

India U-19s 278-6, 50 overs (Nishant Sindhu 78 n.o., Yash Dhull 52, Aradhya Yadav 42; Johann Layne 3/51)

 WI U-19s 170 all out, 43 overs (Matthew Nandu 52; Kaushal Tambe 3/30, Manav Parakh 3/34, Garv Sangwan 2/18, Aneeshwar Gautam 2/37). --India U-19s won by 108 runs.

 

Windies middle-order batsman, Shamarh Brooks, admits it was a crushing blow to narrowly miss out on a debut ODI century but insists it is just part of a learning curve.

Brooks put on a solid performance that proved the backbone of a close 24-run win in the opening match of the series on Sunday

Together with Windies skipper Kieron Pollard, Brooks put 155 runs on the board for the 5th wicket, which proved critical in stabilisng the team’s middle-order after floundering at 4 for 62.

On 93 the player seemed destined to be only the second West Indian to make an ODI century on debut but was out lbw off the bowling of Mark Adair.

“Word can’t express (how disappointing it was) but at the end of the day it was still my first game and I’m still happy with the score that I got.  It’s just unfortunate to miss out on triple figures,” Brooks said.

“I wouldn’t say I panicked in the nervous 90s.  Some people would have been a little more cautious having been set but as we all know it’s a learning curve at this stage.  I’ll take this one on the chin and look to grow from strength to strength,” he added.

The West Indies and Ireland will face off again in the second match on Tuesday.

  

 

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