Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president Christopher Samuda and chairman of the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) George Soutar said the void left by Hubert Lawrence will be hard to fill, as they paid tribute to the respected track and field analysis, whose untimely passing has cast a pall of gloom over the sporting fraternity.

Lawrence, 64, who was also well-known for his authorship, and historical documentation, passed away at home on Friday.

Samuda remembered Lawrence as an authority on Jamaican and global track and field, who played a crucial role in television coverage of various athletic events, including the Olympics, World Championships, and local meets.

The veteran analyst had been an integral part of the track and field commentary for more than three decades, his passion for the sport evident in his dedicated contributions to both television and written media.

“Hubert Lawrence was not simply an encyclopedia of statistics and historical data of others, but more importantly, he was himself a landmark that gave a nation in his commentary a self-portrait in track and field. A man in the mirror vision of where an athletic fraternity stood in his development and the journey must take in order to progress and mature,” Samuda shared.

“He gave statistics context in his written and spoken word, so that players could understand the culture of the sport more, their role and responsibility, and be guided by the principles of Olympicism, which is pen-inked in personalizing successive Olympic Games. The Olympic family mourns his mortality, but is assured and assures his family that his soul now rests eternally,” he added.

Beyond his on-screen presence, Lawrence was a prolific author, having written and co-authored significant books on track and field. Some notable works include "Champs 100" in 2010, "The Power and the Glory: Jamaica in World Athletics, From World War II to the Diamond League Era" in 2012, and "50 Days of Fire" in 2022.

Lawrence, who Soutar described as a true champion for athletes and sports development in Jamaica, inspiring generations with his passion and knowledge, leaves behind a profound impact on the track and field community in Jamaica and beyond.

“He was well known for his balanced and insightful commentaries and interviews, not only to local sports but also in the region and internationally.

“Jamaica has lost a dedicated, and one of our most knowledgeable sports analysts and commentators. On behalf of the Sports Development Foundation, our condolences go out to his family and the sports fraternity,” Soutar said.

Wayne Pinnock of the University of Arkansas won his first indoor long jump championships at the South-Eastern Conference (SEC) indoor championships on Friday.

Pinnock, who was second last year to then teammate Carey McLeod, secured his first indoor title with a leap of 8.28m at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Arkansas.

The World Championships silver medallist, Pinnock, stamped his class and led from the second round after a foul in the first round.

His teammate Nia Robinson was second in the women’s long jump with 6.44m. Robinson also recovered well after she fouled her opening attempt.

Meanwhile, Brianna Lyston is among a number of Jamaicans down to contest finals on Saturday. The Louisiana State University (LSU) representative is down to contest the women’s 60m final, after she clocked 7.12 seconds to win her heat on Friday.

Rosealee Cooper of Mississippi State will enter the women's 60m hurdles with as the sixth fastest qualifiers, as she clocked 8.21s for third in her heat.

Nickisha Pryce of Arkansas will line up in the women’s 200m and 400m finals, after she clocked personal best times of 22.94 and 50.90, when she finished tops in the heats. She is one of five Razorback athlete in the 400m final.

Jevaughn Powell also displayed good early season form with a personal best 45.35-clocking to lead qualifiers to the final of the men’s 400m.

Meanwhile, Tyrese Reid of Mississippi State and Kimar Farquharson of Texas A&M, both booked their spots in the men’s 800m final, after placing first and second in their respective heats in 1:50.50 and 1:50.95 respectively.

The track and field community is mourning the sudden and untimely death of Hubert Lawrence, a beloved and respected figure in the world of track and field analysis, authorship, and historical documentation.

Born in 1960, Lawrence would have celebrated his 64th birthday this year. He passed away at home on Friday, leaving a void in the hearts of those who knew and admired him.  According to reports, his body was discovered at his St Catherine home by a concerned neighbor.

Lawrence, an authority on Jamaican and global track and field, played a crucial role in television coverage of various athletic events, including the Olympics, World Championships, and local meets. Additionally, he contributed as a columnist for the Daily Gleaner, exhibiting his profound knowledge and insights into the sport.

The news of Lawrence's passing came as a shock to many, especially on the eve of his scheduled participation in Television Jamaica’s coverage of the 2024 Gibson McCook Relays later today (Saturday, 24).

The veteran analyst had been an integral part of the track and field commentary for more than three decades, his passion for the sport evident in his dedicated contributions to both television and written media.

Beyond his on-screen presence, Lawrence was a prolific author, having written and co-authored significant books on track and field. Some notable works include "Champs 100" in 2010, "The Power and the Glory: Jamaica in World Athletics, From World War II to the Diamond League Era" in 2012, and "50 Days of Fire" in 2022.

Lawrence's legacy extends far beyond his written words and televised analyses; he leaves behind a profound impact on the track and field community in Jamaica and beyond. His absence will be deeply felt, and his contributions to the understanding and appreciation of the sport will be remembered for years to come.

 

Bahamian sprint hurdler Devynne Charlton dazzled at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Madrid, coming within a hair's breadth of equaling her own world indoor 60m hurdles record. The impressive performances unfolded on Friday as athletes geared up for the impending World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow.

 Two-time European indoor champion Nadine Visser set the tone with a 7.79-second victory in the first 60m hurdles heat, equaling the meeting record. Charlton seamlessly matched this time in the second heat, visibly easing down toward the end of the race. The Bahamian sprinter then took center stage in the final race of the evening, showcasing her prowess.

 Devynne Charlton's flawless performance saw her gracefully navigate the hurdles, ultimately crossing the line in 7.68 seconds. Although slightly adjusted from an initial 7.67, this remarkable time stands as the equal third-fastest in history and set a new meeting record. Nadine Visser secured second place in 7.78, just 0.01 seconds shy of her personal best, while Pia Skrzysowska claimed third in 7.83.

 Expressing her joy, Charlton said, "I set myself all of these goals. I said I wanted to win the World Indoor Tour and break the world indoor record and I want to be a world indoor champion, so I’m just ticking all of the boxes. There’s just one more to go. If this is any preview to the World Indoors, then I’d say I’m on the right track. I’m having fun."

 In the men's shot put, Jamaican athlete Rajindra Campbell delivered a stunning performance, saving his best for last. While two-time world indoor champion Tom Walsh initially seized the lead with a 21.44m heave, Campbell responded with a 21.75m throw in round three. Walsh counteracted with a meeting record of 21.95m in round four.

 In a dramatic turn of events, Campbell, competing in the city where he set an outdoor Jamaican record last year, unleashed a colossal 22.16m throw in his final attempt. This not only secured his victory but also established a new meeting record and a Jamaican indoor record. Walsh concluded with a season's best of 22.02m, earning just enough points in the World Indoor Tour to clinch the series title, despite falling short of individual victory.

Ackeem Blake and Sashalee Forbes will lead Jamaica's contingent to the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. Jamaica will compete in the 60m, 60m hurdles, 400m, 4x400m relay, 800m, long jump, triple jump and shot put at the championships set to run from March 1-3.

Blake, the second fastest Jamaican ever,  will be Jamaica's sole competitor in the Men's 60m while Forbes and Briana Williams will contest the 60m dash.

Olympic bronze medalist Megan Tapper is the lone female in the 60m hurdles. Tyler Mason and Damion Thomas will go in the men's event. Giano Thomas is named as the reserve.

Meanwhile, Stacey-Ann Williams and Charokee Young will take on the world's best in the Women's 400m. Rusheen McDonald will run the two-lapper for the men.

Williams and Young are also named among the relay squad that includes Junelle Bromfield, Stephenie-Ann McPherson, Andrenette Knight, Leah Anderson and Lanae-Tava Thomas.

In the field, Carey McLeod and Tajay Gayle have been selected to contest the long jump competition with Kimberly Williams will take on the triple jump.

Daniniel Thomas-Dodd and Rajindra Campbell will throw the shot put.

Former JAAA president Dr Warren Blake is the team manager with Maurice Wilson being the Technical Director.

Wilson will have on his coaching staff Reynaldo Walcott, Paul Francis, Orville Byfield and Mark Elliott.

 

 

The University of Albany reinforced their dominance at the 2024 America East Indoor Championships that concluded in Boston on Monday winning both men and women’s titles.

Led by their Jamaican star sprinter Shakur Williams UA’s men amassed 165 points to secure their 15th title in 19 years while the women, led by Dominique Clarke were even more impressive scoring 191 points winning their 15th overall championship and third in the past four years.

Albany’s dominance was led by their short sprinters who have now won seven consecutive 60m titles at the conference level while enjoying their third sweep of the event indoors.

Following in the footsteps of 2023 champion, Travis Williams, Shakur, a junior at UA, led a sweep of 60m men’s dash winning in 6.67 over teammate Shavar Staats Jr (6.78) and Lucas Casab (6.91). The former Meadowbrook High School sprinter completed the sprint double in a UA 1-2 in the 200m. He strolled to victory in 21.35 with Staats Jr taking the silver medal in 21.58.

Vermont’s Alex Siaton claimed the bronze medal finishing third in 21.62.

 

UA’s men continued to showcase their quality in the 60m hurdles. Antwone Messado blew away his rivals hurdling to a time of 8.07. Left in his wake was his teammate Adrian Rippstein (8.43) and Luke Stelmach of UMass Lowell, who ran 8.43 to take the final podium spot.

It was a similar situation in the men’s high jump where Ja’Lil Reynolds cleared 2.12m to claim gold with teammate Zhi Luncheon-Lowrie’s cleareance of 2.09m securing the silver medal. Bryant’s Michael Marshall took third with his best leap of 2.00m.

Former Kingston College jumper Louis Gordon led an Albany sweep of the long jump competition. The Caymanian athlete soared out to a mark of 7.57m with teammates Marcus McFadden and Christian Quinn finishing second and third with marks of 7.31m and 7.23m, respectively.

Travis Robinson imposed his class on the shot put field. The Jamaican put 18.53m more than a metre better than his nearest rival, Maine’s Jonathan Prell (17.03m) and New Hampshire’s Caden Zalenski (16.16m). The winning mark was a personal best, school record and championship record.

 

Meanwhile, UA’s women were showcasing their own prowess on the track led by former Papine High School standout Dominique Clarke who led a remarkable 1-2-3-4 sweep of the women’s 60m dash. Clarke, who won the title in 7.45 in 2023, was even faster this time, taking the gold medal in 7.41. UA’s women have won the 60m dash for the seventh consecutive year.

Shenequa Vassell took the silver in a personal best 7.63 edging teammate Jazmen Newberry (7.64) and freshman Shantae Pryce (7.65).

Clarke, however, was unsuccessful in her defence of the 200m title she won in 2023. She finished second to University of Maryland, Baltimore County sprinter Caitlyn Bobb, who clocked 23.95 to Clarke’s 23.96. Newberry was third in 24.09 in the closely contested event.

UA went 1-3 in the 60m hurdles. Antoinette Galloway earned a valuable 10 points when she won in 8.25 ahead of Binhghamton’s Jenna Chan (8.52). Katelyn del Gandio took bronze in 8.59.

Albany’s Amelia Benjamin won the high jump with a clearance of 1.80m. Lucciana Robinson of Binghamton cleared 1.71m for the silver medal while UMass Lowell’s Erin Jensen was third with her best leap of 1.63m.

University of Albany’s women also claimed two of the three podium places in the long jump. That event was won by Ofe Omokeni with her leap of 5.73m. Her teammate, Rebeca Valerie Barrientos Alpha, took second place with 5.50m, a single centimetre ahead of UMass Lowell’s Rebecca Crosier (5.49m).

Leann Nicholas won the triple jump and Barrientos Alpha took second place with efforts of 12.55m and 11.88m respectively.

Albany’s Kiana Nosile was just edged out in the weight throw with her mark of 18.91m being bettered my Maine’s Cheyenne Figueroa, who threw 18.93m. Mackenzie Wilson, also of Maine took bronze with her throw of 18.09m.

Among the men, UMass Lowell finished second in the standings with 144.5 points with Binghamton third with 119.5.

Binghamton scored 134 points for second place among the women with UMass Lowell third on 114.

 

 

The Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) has named a 23-member team for the 51st edition of the Carifta Games scheduled for March 30 to April 1, in Grenada.

Headlining the team are, Tianna Springer and Javon Roberts, along with Nerissa McPherson, Attoya Harvey, Malachi Austin, all of whom bring valuable experience to the team having enjoyed success at previous stagings of the Games. The likes of Sahel Cornett, Charisa December, Nalicia Glen, Rondell Green, Jamal Sullivan, Robert Marcus and Dhanielson Gill, who will compete in Under-20 category, are also expected to represent the Golden Arrowhead well.

Meanwhile, the Under-17 unit consist of Athaleyha Hinckson, Duel Europe, Skylar Charles, Kaidon Persaud, Ezikeil Millington, Easter Mc Kinnon, Ryan Joseph, Akilla Blucher, Keneta Fraser, Marissa Thomas and Nathaniel Samaroo.

The selection process involved a rigorous three-day trial recently, where 19 members were initially selected, 11 of which gained selection through qualifying process. The other four members were eventually shortlisted after several meetings, to complete the final squad. The AAG has high expectation that this team will make its mark at the three-day Easter Weekend meet.

Thelson Williams (Manager), Akeem Stewart (Physiotherapist), Wayne Pantlitz (male coach), Trishel Thompson (female coach), will accompany the team.

NB: The Carifta Games will be live on SportsMax and the SportsMax App. 

 

Retired American track legend Allyson Felix, accompanied by her husband Kenneth, recently enjoyed a blissful vacation on the picturesque island of Jamaica. The couple, expecting their second child later this year, took time off to unwind and relish the beauty of the Caribbean paradise.

Felix, who bid farewell to her illustrious track career at the end of the 2022 season, has had a storied connection with Jamaica. The island served as the backdrop for some of her fiercest competitions against Jamaican rivals like Veronica Campbell Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce. The retired sprinter reminisced about her first encounter with Jamaica in 2002 when she competed as a junior at the World U20 Championships.

Sharing her Jamaican experience on Instagram, Felix expressed gratitude for the warm reception she received despite being a competitor. She reminisced about her 22-year journey, highlighting her medal-filled career that included an impressive tally of 22 gold medals at global championships, seven of which were Olympic and 14 World championships gold medals.

Felix, who shares a daughter named Camryn with Kenneth, posted a heartfelt message on Instagram, saying, "22 years ago, I went to Jamaica for the World Junior Championships and met my now-husband on that team. I also fell in love with the incredible people and the beautiful country. Even though they always cheered against me, I honestly feel so appreciated when I am here. It was only right for us to come back for our babymoon. Jamaica will forever hold a special place in my heart. Thank you for all of the love and hospitality, Jamaica."

The post garnered responses from fellow athletes, including Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, who welcomed Felix "home." In response, Felix conveyed her delight, stating, "@realshellyannfp definitely! Hahahah always good to be home."

Allyson Felix's Jamaican babymoon not only provided her with an opportunity to relish the island's beauty but also allowed her to reconnect with the memories of her impressive track career and the warm camaraderie she shares with her Jamaican competitors and her legion of fans on the island.

 

‘Our Athletes, Our Ambassadors.’ Those are the words that govern the actions of one of the leading organizations in sports, Team Jamaica Bickle.

For the past three decades, TJB, a not-for-profit corporation based in New York State, has been providing support services for Caribbean athletes, particularly Jamaicans, who compete at the annual Penn Relays Carnival, which is held at the University of Pennsylvania, (UPENN) in Philadelphia, PA.

Their services also extend to a delegation of approximately six hundred & fifty (650) students and coaches from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent & The Grenadines Guyana and Grenada. 

“We have always said that whatever we do, it’s for our athlete’s welfare,” TJB founder and CEO Irwine G. Clare Snr. told SportsMax.tv.

“When all is said and done, all the fandangles, all the bells and whistles, all the verbal commentary and the niceties, at the end of the day, it’s about the welfare of the athletes because in essence, in our business, it takes cash to care. It means that, at the end of the day, we have to ensure that we have the resources and all the necessities in place to satisfy our athletes’ requirements. That’s the business we’re in,” he added.

Over the years TJB has welcomed and extended its services to delegations of students and coaches from the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), Bahamas, Barbados and most recently Belize.

Team Jamaica Bickle provides the following: Meals and other refreshments, physical therapy, chiropractic, mentorship and medical services, ground transportation, daily hotel to stadium shuttle, airport transfers for arrival & departure, subsidized hotel rate and subsidized airfare.

Additionally, the Team Jamaica Bickle “Defibrillator to Schools Program,” was initiated in 2014 after the loss of St. Jago High School athlete, Cavahn McKenzie at a cross-country meet in Tobago.

This caused the organization to consider the lack of emergency resources in Jamaican schools.  That year, an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) unit was donated to St. Jago High School at the Penn Relays.

A Medical Pavilion in his honor was erected in the TJB Village where athletes could get medical and dental information and be trained in CPR. It continues to be a feature today.

In 2016 another athlete, Dominic James of St. Georges’ College, tragically lost his life during a Manning Cup game. This unfortunate event spurred TJB to ramp up the CPR training & AED donations to better prepare schools for emergencies.

The program has received the support of the Ministry of Education, Government Agencies, The Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA), Corporate Jamaica and the Diaspora.

Since 2014 the organization has donated over 130 AED units to schools, trained over 250 staff and influenced the donation of several others to various institutions. The goal is to outfit each high school across the Island with a unit.

“We have seen where our efforts have inspired other Diaspora organizations contribute AEDs to several schools and medical institutions,” said Clare.

“We are encouraged and remain committed to the goal of outfitting all High Schools,” he added.

In 1999, Team Jamaica Bickle became the first Jamaican organization to be a participating sponsor at the Penn Relays.

As a result, the Jamaican flag became the first foreign flag to be flown at the Penn Relays, a distinction unmatched. Over the years, TJB has received numerous proclamations and awards from several local and national entities.

As it relates to growth of the organization, Clare said it comes down to continuing to be able to meet the needs of athletes as they evolve.

“Our athletes over the years have brought a sense of tenacity, professionalism and discipline to their craft, making them better. We too have to adopt that principle,” he said

“When we speak of growth, it is growth from the standpoint of efficiencies and finding ways to leverage what we have so that we can remain relevant to the causes of the athletes because the athletes are not stagnant. If you want to win you have to step up your game, it’s the same thing with us,” he added.

Jamaica College have sought the intervention of Sports Minister Olivia Grange to resolve an impasse it has with the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) over the eligibility of two international student athletes to represent the school at the 2024 Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships.

According to a letter to Grange signed by Chairman of the Jamaica College Board of Management, Lance Hylton, ISSA has reportedly refused to permit the two athletes - Evans Tetteh and Dominic Amponsah, who are both from Ghana -because of what it says is an “influx” of foreign athletes into Jamaican high schools.

“We believe that the action taken by ISSA is unfair and inconsistent with ISSA’s own rules and could have negative repercussions on Jamaican athletes seeking similar scholarships to overseas schools,” Hylton's letter stated.

“We are kindly seeking your intervention and mediation into this matter. We look forward to your positive response," he added.

Jamaica College, who have won the boys’ title 22 times, placed second at last year’s Championships, behind Kingston College, the winningest school with 34 titles.

As the news of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s pending retirement continues to soak in, Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president Christopher Samuda is among those already expressing gratitude to the decorated athlete, whose life and legacy on the track, has been an inspiration to many across the global sporting landscape.

In fact, Samuda hinted at his association's plans to celebrate the legacy of Jamaican sprint icon, who will hang up her spikes after the Olympic Games in Paris, later this year.

Since she won Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008, Fraser-Pryce has enjoyed one of the most dominating careers in track and field history, as she tallied eight Olympic medals, including three gold, 16 medals at the World Athletics Championships, which includes 10 world titles, and ranks as the third fastest woman in history with 10.60 seconds in the 100m.

But she is not quite done yet, as she will certainly be aiming to add to those accolades and, by extension, fittingly end her illustrious career on a high.

“Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will retire from the track, but it will always be her stomping ground, given the lessons she taught and her legacy will remain. What an athlete. She is a culture of absolute discipline, courage and resilience. An Olympian and World Champion whose enduring commitment to country is inspiring,” Samuda told SportsMax.TV.

“She is a global sporting ambassador whose credentials are well known and are accepted by many countries. The Jamaica Olympic Association will honour those attributes which resided in ‘Pocket Rocket’, and which are now gaining ineffable expression in ‘Mommy Rocket’,” he added.

On that note, Samuda, while reflecting on her many accomplishments, highlighted that Fraser-Pryce is only human, who has given her all to the demands of balancing sport with family life.

“More importantly, she's a daughter, a mother, a wife, and a colleague. An Olympian, a human being endowed with a humanity that embodies goodwill, and a smile that comes from the heart. She embodies a spirit and personhood that makes her not just a gold medalist, but more importantly a standard bearer,” Samuda shared.

“What an explosion she has been on life's track which will forever bear her indelible footprints,” he noted.

The 37-year-old Fraser-Pryce in a recent interview, explained that her decision to retire after this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris stems from her wanting to dedicate more time to her family.

“My son needs me. My husband and I have been together since before I won in 2008. He has sacrificed for me and it’s because of that support that I’m able to do the things that I have been doing for all these years. I think I now owe it to them to do something else,” Fraser-Pryce said.

The vivacious athlete’s win in Beijing made her first Jamaican woman to win an Olympic 100m gold, and her follow-up victory in 2012 made her only the third woman to win back-to-back Olympic titles. She joined other greats Wyoma Tyus and Gail Devers of the USA to accomplish the feat.

Fraser-Pryce’s 2009 World 100m title in Berlin, saw her become the first woman to hold Olympic and World titles simultaneously, a feat she accomplished twice with victories in London in 2012 and Moscow in 2013.

The St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) government declared its commitment to supporting athlete Shafiqua Maloney as she prepares for the upcoming Paris Olympics in August.

Maloney garnered significant attention during her recent appearance on the SportsMax Zone, where she revealed that she experienced homelessness for several months in the past year and has been unable to compensate her coaches for an extended period of time. She also shared that her departure from the United States would result in her being barred from reentry until her application for an O-1 visa is approved. This visa application carries a price tag of $8,500.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on Friday stated that despite Maloney’s qualification, her journey to the Paris Olympics will be challenging. He also expressed his government’s dedication to providing assistance.

"I spoke to Shafiq to congratulate her and more importantly, for her own perseverance, and to commit to her the support of the Government of St Vincent for the Olympics in the first place, which is in August in Paris. She told me many things, which is not my place to talk about. I am not going through the many emails she sent to specific people because I do not want any controversy to surround this talented young lady," the Gonsalves shared.

"All I want now is that, going forward, between now and the Olympics, we help to take care of this young lady and see that she gets what is reasonably required. She told me a number that I wouldn’t reveal. Between now and August, I told her to send me details, and in relation to the visa, which I know about, she said some people were trying, but you know, the US visa authorities are problematic. I told her to send me all that has happened to see if, at a particular level, we get it sorted out," he added.

The prime minister also revealed that there could be possible sponsorship for Maloney through East Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC) which has not been confirmed.  

"Camilo told me last evening that ECGC wants to be engaged, possibly in a sponsorship with Shafiqua. So, I called Jomo Cato and asked him to send me what they had in mind. I asked him what number they had, and I told him the number Shafiqua had told me. She said, Prime Minister, this is the Olympics. I want to be at the Olympics. But we are hoping that this matter can be sorted out before then," Gonsalves said.

The 24-year-old Maloney, who was the sole flag-bearer for St Vincent and the Grenadines at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, recently established a new national 800 metres record of 1:58.69, at the 2024 Tyson Invitational in Arkansas. She surpassed her previous mark of 1:59.94.

Maloney followed up that performance with another national record of 4:33.68 in her debut run at a mile.

"I've never raced a mile before, so I found someone to hang on to and when I knew it was time to go, I just went. It (my late kick) kind of felt the same surprisingly, so whether it is a mile or 800m, the last 200m felt good, it probably wasn't as fast, but it felt the same and I just went out there and had fun. That is the most important part of what you do, especially when it is something your'e not used to, you always need to have fun and of course, execute," she told Arkansas Track and Field after the race.

"It is a long season, so I am just trying to stay healthy, remain injury free, but also get the work in so when it comes to Paris and the rounds, I am able to get the work in to be consistent and advance to the final. So, I am just trusting the process and trusting the Lord more than anything, He has been carrying me through. I know trusting in the Lord, myself and my coach, is definitely going to get me where I need to be," the talented athlete reasoned.

 

As news of her impending retirement continues to reverberate throughout the track and field community, two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce continues to draw praise from some of the sport’s biggest stars.

The most recent to sing the Mommy Rocket’s praises were Olympic and World Champion Justin Gatlin and co-host Rodney Green on their Ready Set Go Podcast.

Since she won Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008, Fraser-Pryce has gone on to have one of the most dominating careers in track and field history. Her win in Beijing made her first Jamaican woman to win Olympic 100m gold. Her follow-up victory in 2012 made her only the third woman to win back-to-back Olympic titles joining other greats Wyoma Tyus and Gail Devers of the USA to accomplish the feat.

Winning the world 100 title in Berlin in 2009, saw her become the first woman to hold Olympic and World titles simultaneously, a feat she would accomplish twice after victories in London in 2012 and Moscow in 2013.

Feats such as these are why Green lamented her decision to hang up her spikes after what will be her fifth Olympic campaign in Paris this summer.

“Man, we ‘bout to lose a female juggernaut of our sport, man, a staple. I mean, I think in her country they should, I don't know if a statue would do or they should name a track or something, man. Man, we going to lose Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce this year, man, this is our last year around the world, you know, competing. What do you think about that?

(Jamaica unveiled a statue of Fraser-Pryce at Independence Park in Kingston in 2018.)

In response, Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion and 2005 and 2017 World Champion, lauded the Jamaica superstar for her work on and off the track, stating, “Man, Shelly-Ann has been such an inspiration to the sport for so long. Watching her make her first Olympic team in 2008 and her dominance for so many years into the sport and watching her grow. She was out there in the world and watching her mature into the powerful, successful woman she is now, hat’s off to her. She deserves everything.”

Gatlin, who enjoyed a fierce rivalry against Fraser-Pryce’s contemporary, Usain Bolt, made reference to her fierce rivalry with compatriot Elaine Thompson-Herah and what it did to bring energy to the sport.

“We wish she could run many, many more years because she is the kind of person that rises to the occasion,” said Gatlin of the Jamaican who has only once failed to win a 100m medal in a global championship. That was in 2011 when she finished fourth in the 100m final in Daegu, South Korea.

Fraser-Pryce won 100m gold at the World Championships in 2007, 2009, 2013, 2019 and 2022. She was third at the most recent championships in Budapest, Hungary. She missed the 2017 championship because she was pregnant with her son Zyon.

“Watching her duke it out with Elaine (Thompson-Herah) throughout the years,” Gatlin continued, “they’d be seeing who would get to 10-7 first and then who would get to 10-6, and it made for pure entertainment because they both rose to the occasion.”

Green then chimed in clarifying that Fraser-Pryce not only battled with her Jamaican counterpart but also with the very best the USA had to offer.

“Elaine is just the recent one. She battled with many people that banged, like Carmelita Jeter. She went back and forth with Jet, man. She went back and forth with Veronica Campbell from her own country and the late great Tori (Bowie).”

 Gatlin then said, “She battled every elite female in this era.”

“Juggernauts, 10-6, 10-7 women through time, man,” Green remarked. “Like she has been amazing to our sport, she has been graceful to our sport. She has been nothing but a class act and I just think she will definitely be missed.

“I think as she makes her rounds this year, around the world, farewell tour, every country she goes, win or loss, when she runs, they should let her do a lap man, because this is the last time we’re going to get to see an amazing athlete grace track and field; the Mommy Rocket. It’s sad to see her go but I understand why she has to go.”

In a recently published interview with Essence Magazine, the 37-year-old Fraser-Pryce explained that her decision to retire after the Olympic Games in Paris stems from her wanting to dedicate more time to her family.

“There’s not a day I’m getting up to go practise and I’m like, ‘I’m over this’,” she said. “My son needs me. My husband and I have been together since before I won in 2008. He has sacrificed for me.

“We’re a partnership, a team. And it’s because of that support that I’m able to do the things that I have been doing for all these years. And I think I now owe it to them to do something else.”

 

Gatlin said he understood her decision.

"She said she owes it to her family to do something else now, especially her husband said she's been competing from 2008.She's been married for some time now for her husband and her child too. She owes it to them to just do something else and that's very honorable. Absolutely.

"I mean, when you when you are an athlete of her stature, your time is limited because your focus is on your own success, because that's what got you to where you're at, and you try to kind of juggle or balance family time, personal life around your successful career but everything, everything in your life is kind of floating around track, so now it's like with her son becoming older and having more time to be able to be a wife and a mom that's important.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rhythmic beat of excitement echoes through the corridors of anticipation as the 2024 ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships, better known as "CHAMPS," approaches the island of Jamaica. In a groundbreaking move, the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and PUMA are set to turn this prestigious event into an Olympic fashion extravaganza, showcasing the bespoke apparel designs tailored exclusively for the Jamaican Olympic team at the upcoming Paris Olympic Games.

The announcement is met with palpable enthusiasm from JOA President, Christopher Samuda, who can't hide his delight, "The designs meet our approval, and their display will be an innovation bringing Olympism into the arena, reminding inspired youth that wearing the black, gold, and green is genetic, shaping character and tailoring personal aspirations, sewing seeds of success."

A sense of historical significance hangs in the air as the national stadium, once again, prepares to take center stage. JOA Secretary General/CEO, Ryan Foster, eloquently expresses the symbolic nature of the venue, "The national stadium will once more be a focal point for Olympism, a landmark from which sportsmen and women have been catapulted into being Olympic champions and global personalities, becoming an inspiration to generations of youth."

The JOA/PUMA partnership is lauded for its creative fusion of sports and fashion. President Samuda emphasizes the deeper meaning of national sportswear, stating, "This activation by PUMA underscores that national sportswear should be an experience and an honor that goes beyond what you wear to being how you wear it, contributing to a country’s sporting legacy – and that’s Olympism."

Fashion, as articulated by JOA Secretary General/CEO Foster, is not merely a reflection of the times but a profound expression of identity. "National apparel re-defines the past, defines the present, and shapes the future of a people." He highlights the distinction between ready-to-wear and custom-built, noting that the latter is driven by a 'fit to size' and bespoke value, characterizing the present and stylizing the future.

As the days count down, the buzz around the event intensifies. Jamaicans eagerly anticipate a taste of Paris, as Olympic sportswear is set to grace Independence Park. Inspired by the remarkable performances of Jamaican Olympians throughout history, the showcase promises to be a vivid celebration of the nation's sporting legacy.

PUMA's continuing commitment to the Jamaican Olympic movement is evident, with this display of Jamaican sport haute couture being hailed as "the dress rehearsal of greater things to come" by President Samuda. The stage is set for a truly groundbreaking moment at CHAMPS, where the collision of athleticism and high fashion will create an unforgettable spectacle, etching a lasting impression on the hearts of spectators and athletes alike.

 

 On the Instagram biography of Julien Alfred, there are three lines. The first says ‘Athlete’. The second is the flag of Saint Lucia, while the third says ‘Romans 8:18’ – a verse from the bible that states our “present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”


At the age of 22, Alfred has already experienced her fair share of suffering, and indeed glory.


There was the loss of her father, Julian, when she was 12. There was moving away from home, to Jamaica, at just 14. There was the death last December of her old PE teacher, Simeon Stephen, who first discovered Alfred’s talent and convinced her to stay the course in athletics.


Then there is the glory.


Alfred is the reigning NCAA indoor champion over 60m and 200m, the reigning NCAA outdoor champion over 100m and 200m. She’s the 2023 Bowerman Award winner, the prize given to the outstanding collegiate track and field athlete each year. She’s the fastest woman in the world this year over 60m and 200m, which makes her a huge contender at next month’s World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24.


At this time of year, she knows all about the link between suffering and glory, given a key part of her preparation is the over-distance work that few sprinters enjoy.


“I never considered myself a 200m runner,” she says. “Only last year I got better at it because I dedicated myself to running it more with the longer workouts, which I hated before.”


They’re still not her favourite, though to strike gold in Glasgow she knows they’re essential. A few months ago, when they circled the event on her calendar, Alfred’s coach Edrick Floreal noted that the three rounds of the women’s 60m will take place on the same day.


“So being the fastest woman doesn’t play as much of a role as being the strongest woman,” he says. “Being able to run 22.2 and 22.1 (for 200m), you’re not going to die of fatigue. I need the athlete to be strong enough to replicate the same performance three times in a row.”

Saint Lucia – a Caribbean island with a population of about 180,000 people – has never won a medal at the World Indoors before, its best result being a fifth-place finish in the high jump for Levern Spencer in 2016. But Alfred looks poised to change that. She clocked a world-leading 6.99 to take victory at the Millrose Games in New York, a World Athletics IndoorTour Gold meeting, last Sunday. The run was even more impressive given her relatively sluggish start.

She didn’t have a time goal in mind that day, the objective being to “work on my start, my execution and transition.” How did that go? “I have to go back to my coach and see how I did,” she said. “I’m sure he will say it wasn’t good.”

Alfred was right.

“The start was awful,” says Floreal. “She kind of stood up, so it’s back to work on that, but I like where things are – the fact she can mess up the start and still have the strength to deal with the charge.”

In her first year as a professional, that ability to stay calm under pressure could prove a key one.

As Floreal explains: “It’s (about) handling that anxiety. That’s my job: to help her win the race from behind so she doesn’t feel like she has to have a good start. When they think, ‘I need to get a great start to get a medal,’ they put tonnes of pressure on themselves to get that and sometimes you’re stymied by that in the race. Now, I can have a s***ty start and still run 6.99 – that helps with confidence.”

Alfred has been working with Floreal since the start of 2019, when she enrolled at the University of Texas. They first met a few months before that, at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, where Alfred won silver in the 100m. Floreal was the reason she chose Texas.

“While I was in high school in Jamaica, I watched him coach Sydney (McLaughlin-Levrone), Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, he was also coaching Keni (Harrison) at the time,” says Alfred. “Seeing him have a huge amount of great athletes, I wanted to be with a coach like that.”

Alfred grew up in Castries, the capital city of Saint Lucia, and her sprint talent was first spotted at the age of “six or seven” as she raced around the courts at school. Stephen, her PE teacher, made her race against the boys – she won – and after that she joined an athletics club, working with coach Cuthbert Modeste. Her childhood hero was Usain Bolt, and Alfred dreamed of one day doing similar things on the track. But following the death of her father, she fell away from athletics. It was Stephen who brought her back. “He saw the potential in me,” she says.

In 2015, she moved to Jamaica to attend St Catherine High School, where she came under the guidance of coach Marlon Jones. From there it was on to Texas, where she took a big leap forward, lowering her 60m PB to 7.10 in 2020 at the age of 18. The following year was lost to injury, with Alfred forced to watch the Tokyo Olympic Games from afar. But she bounced back better than ever in 2022, lowering her 100m PB to 10.81 and winning the NCAA title.

A false start in the 100m semi-final at the World Championships in Oregon proved a costly mistake, one she’s yet to repeat. Last year, her star truly went supernova, with Alfred setting collegiate records to win the NCAA indoor 60m title in 6.94 and the 200m in 22.01, both times putting her second on the world all-time lists. With another dominant sprint double at the outdoor NCAA Championships last June – she won the 100m in 10.72 (2.3m/s) and 200m in 21.73 (2.5m/s) – she closed out a magnificent collegiate career, then signed a professional deal with Puma.

Her goal at last year’s World Championships was to win a medal, but she came up just short in Budapest, finishing fifth in the 100m and fourth in the 200m.

These days, athletics has her full-time focus, with Alfred putting her spare time to use by doing driving lessons. Since the autumn, she has trained alongside Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the 2019 world 200m champion, along with her long-time college teammate Rhasidat Adeleke of Ireland, the reigning NCAA 400m champion.

“It’s competitive, which makes it fun,” says Alfred. “Iron sharpens iron.”

Saint Lucia has never won an Olympic medal in any sport, and Alfred knows the hype is building as the Games approach. But the only pressure she feels is from within.

“I don’t really pay attention to the media but I do have a lot of supporters back home who give messages to my family and they transfer to me,” she says. “I definitely want a medal in Paris – a gold, silver or bronze in the 100m and 200m.”

 The path to an achievement like that is filled with hard work and tedious, painstaking repetition. In addition to her start, Alfred has been focusing on improving her strength and her technique. “Sometimes late in the races I use my shoulders too much,” she says.

It’s something Floreal drills into her at every workout. “The main thing is good mechanics, being able to hold that under fatigue,” he says.

Success at major championships also requires a strong mindset. What is Alfred like in that department?

“She’s fantastic,” says Floreal, who’s been highly impressed with how Alfred has handled the transition to the pro ranks. “It’s a difficult adjustment a lot of kids are not able to do; there’s a lot of people pulling at you.”

While she’s already donned her nation’s colours with pride on the global stage, the difference this year is that without an extensive NCAA schedule, she can give such championships her full focus. First up is Glasgow, then all roads lead to Paris. Saint Lucia might never have won a medal at those events, but Alfred isn’t concerned about the past, thinking only of the future.

“I’d love to be the first,” she says.

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