The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has received approval from the relevant government authorities to stage a series of competitive meets in order to allow junior and senior athletes the opportunity to sharpen up.

In the main, local track and field events have not been held on the island since March of last year, as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.  The government recently announced plans to re-start sporting events on a case by case basis and the event, called the JAAA Qualification Trial Series, will be the first approved for the track and field local governing body.

The trials will be on February 27, held across several venues across the island, and have specific events on offer.  Among the events on offer will be the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 2000m SC, 3000m, 5000m, 70mH, 80mH, 100mH, 110mH, 400mH, 4x100m, 4x400m, 4x200m, 1600m SMR, Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump, Pole Vault, Shot Put, Discus and Javelin.

Athlete’s wishing to compete in the meet must sign a COVID-19 waiver, with waivers signed by parents for athletes under-18.  The meets will feature no spectator with strict COVID-19 protocols in full effect at all the venues.

The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has sought to assure the island’s athletes that it is doing everything possible to facilitate the safe resumption of track and field across the island.

For the most part, all types of track and field competitions across the island have been shuttered since last year, as part of efforts to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

In order to resume, sports administrations must submit a series of plans that illustrate how it is that sporting events will comply with the strict protocols set out by the goverment's Disaster Risk Management orders.

The JAAA, who have submitted the documents, is confident they have put together a strong proposal and pointed to the fact that the proposal has been shared with other North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) members, who are expected to adopt several of the recommendations.

Among the organisations proposals are the provision of COVID protocol marshals, trained by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to oversee competitions and training; hosted sensitisation sessions with coaches, team managers, and athletes, a guide for meet organisers, and a team manual for competitors.

According to the JAAA, they are yet to be given a response from the authorities but have in the meantime urged athletes to continue to prepare for the upcoming season and to continue following the existing protocols.

 

The ill-advised decision of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to stage an impromptu and unapproved national camp, and the resulting positive Covid-19 cases, has played a part in delaying the sport’s resumption.

Earlier this month, the JFF landed in hot water after convening a national camp at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence without the requisite government approval.  The camp was shut down but not before at least six players and one official tested positive for COVID-19.

In a meeting on Friday, between sports minister Olivia Grange, the JFF, and representatives of the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), meant to chart the way forward, the minister expressed her disappointment with the incident.  She also pointed out that any approval for the sport’s restart must include strict adherence to health protocols.

“I was very disappointed with the breach which has led to the delay of the restart of football but I am hoping that with this meeting, in which I spoke frankly and we came to a clear understanding, going forward, there will be no misunderstanding. This is a very serious matter, in light of the community spread of COVID-19, and all our actions have consequences,” Grange said.

“Therefore, no one can take unilateral decisions to commence training or competition because the action of any person or organisation can directly impact the players and the country in general. I know these are difficult times, so let us work together to overcome the challenges,” she added.

In response, both President of the JFF Michael Ricketts and PFJL Chairman, Christopher Williams, committed to both organisations following protocol and expressed eagerness for the return of local football.

With the exception of the national camp, organised football has not been played on the island since last March when the leagues and national programs were shut down in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Hydel track coach Corey Bennett has expressed pride in being involved in the development of an ambitious and "hard-working” Charokee Young.

The former Jamaican high-school star was a key member of Texas A&M’s record-breaking 4x400m relay team that set new standards at the Tyson Invitational in Arkansas last Saturday.

The 20-year-old Young ran a third-leg split of 51.12 as Texas A&M set an all-time collegiate record of 3:26.27.

The incredible time makes them the fourth-fastest women’s 4x400m relay team and is the ninth-fastest in history.

In addition to being a season-best run, the time broke the meet record of 3:27.94 set by Texas in 2016 as well as the facility record of 3:27.66 set by Texas in 2003.

Texas was more than six-seconds behind in second place with their season-best time of 3:32.64. Florida State University also ran a season-best of 3:34.02 for third.

The team of Young, Athing Mu, the U20 indoor 400m world record holder; Syaira Richardson and Jania Martin, will now go down in history as one of the greatest ever in school history. Only Mu’s split of 50.27 was faster than Young’s as Martin opened with 53.04. Richardson, who handed over to the Jamaican, split 51.86 on the second leg.

“3.26 indoor is such a special run, even outdoors, it’s a great run and to have the second-fastest split of 51.1 on such a special team. It’s really a blessing to see that you had something to do with her development,’ said Bennett.

“She is in an excellent programme at Texas A&M and I am so happy that we actually chose that school for her.”

Bennett believes her experience at Hydel has prepared Young for what she has been accomplishing since she enrolled at Texas A&M.

“She is going well. She is improving every weekend. She was also part of several record-breaking Hydel teams at the Penn Relays so she is used to being on several good 4x400m teams,” he said.

Young has thrived at Texas A&M ever since she arrived there two seasons ago after winning the finals of the 800m at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships in Kingston in March 2019.

The then Hydel star clocked 2:06.02 to win gold ahead of the talented duo of Shaquena Foote and Abigail Schaaffe, who were second and third, respectively.

In her first season at A&M, she ran 2:05.80 over 800m indoors. She subsequently dropped down to the 400m and so far this season has run a personal best 51.93 on February 6.

Bennett said while he was disappointed that she has dropped the 800m he sees where it has been beneficial to Young’s development.

“It’s paying off and I am sure that her coaches and her handlers right now are preparing her looking at getting her ready for trials this year. She will do well at trials as long as she remains healthy,” Bennett said while revealing Young’s ultimate ambition.

“Charokee will achieve through hard work and she is not afraid to work hard to achieve what she wants. She wants to make an Olympic team or World Champs team and she will stop at nothing (to achieve her goal).

 

 

 

Maurice Wilson, principal of Jamaica’s G.C. Foster College and a national team coach, has described recently deceased Calabar jumps coach Nicholas Neufville as a trainer that had limitless potential.

Neufville was found dead on Monday morning, in an open lot in Portmore, St Catherine, alongside a female passenger.  The athletics coach was 38 years old.

Up to the time of his death, Neufville had worked as part of the successful Calabar high school program and the newly formed Legacy Track Club.  Neufville was, however, also involved with the national team and was part of the Jamaican delegation that participated at the Pan American Under 20 Athletics Championships in Puerto Rico in 2019.

“He became a part of that cadre of coaches that would have travelled with the junior teams over the years and there were great expectations for him moving forward,” Wilson told TVJ Sports.

“He was one of the best coaches in both the long and triple jump.  He coached at the high school level, but his skills and skillsets could have taken him anywhere,” he added.

Before going on to be part of the multi-title winning Calabar high school team, Neufville had previously represented the corporate area high school.

Jamaica international, Oniel Fisher, has signed with Major League Soccer (MLS) club LA Galaxy as a free agent.

The 29-year-old previously represented Seattle Sounders who he represented from 2015-2017 and later D.C. United, who he also represented for two years, between 2018 to 2020.  The experienced defender, who also played for Seattle Sounders 2, has a total of 89 appearances in US football.  The player also spent a year playing for the New York Red Bulls U-23.

Fisher retcovered from surgery to a partially torn ACL, MCL, PCL, and medial meniscus, for an injury suffered in 2019, and went on to make 15 appearances for DC United last season.  However, the club declined to renew his contract at the end of the 2020 season.  te Kloese believes the player will be a welcome addition to the club.

“We are excited to have Oniel join the LA Galaxy,” LA Galaxy general manager Dennis te Kloese said.

“He is a talented defender who can play multiple positions along the backline and brings versatility and MLS experience to our defense. We look forward to him joining our club.”

Fisher has made 15 appearances for the Jamaica national team.  He last represented the national team against Saudi Arabia in November of last year.

Bahamian Olympic champion, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, set a new national record to claim the women’s 400m at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on Saturday.  

The 26-year-old looked in imperious form as she hurried from the blocks and hardly seemed to let up, in the end, claiming the event by a comfortable margin.  Miller-Uibo stopped the clock at 50.21, well clear of second-place Waldine Jonathas of the United States, who was second in 51.95, and Jessica Beard who finished third in 52.60.

In the less frequently contested men’s 300m, Jamaica’s Christopher Taylor also set a national record but was second behind Jereem Richard who clocked a speedy 32.17.  The USA’s Kahmari Montgomery finished third in 32.96.

Jamaica’s Briana Williams clocked 7.22 to qualify for the women’s 60m final but did not face the starter for the final.  The event was won by Kayla White in a personal best of 7.15, with Hannah Cunliffe second in 7.17 and Candace Hill third in 7.19.

In the women’s 60m hurdles, Jamaica’s Britany Anderson finished outside of the top three spots, with a time of 7.99.  The event was taken by Keri Harrison in a world-leading 7.82, with Tiffany Porter second in 7.89 and Gabrielle Cunningham third in an identical time.

Jamaica sprinter Kevona Davis finished in third position, in heat 9 of the 200m time-final, at the Tyson Invitational in Arkansas on Saturday.

In her first year from high school, out of Jamaica, the Texas Longhorn clocked 23.47 to finish behind LSU’s Symone Mason and Florida’s Talitha Diggs who crossed the line first in a personal best of 22.94.

Also in action was St Lucian, Julien Alfred, who also competes for the Longhorns.  Alfred finished in second place after competing in heat 6 where she crossed the line in 23.53.  The event was won by Arkansas's Jada Baylark who took top spot in 23.49.  Stacy-Ann Williams took third place in 23.66.  Jamaica’s Kemba Wilson of Oregon was also listed to compete in the heat but did not face the starter.

The fastest time of the event was clocked by Texas’s Kynnedy Flannel, who took heat 10 in a personal best 22.73, finishing behind her was Alabama’s Tamara Clarke, who was second in 22.89, a season’s best. 

In men’s action, Oregon’s Xavier Nairne, another Jamaican, clocked a personal best 21.14 to win heat 4 of the men’s 200m.  Nairne finished ahead of teammate Jacoby Mcnamara and Texas’ Caleb Hulbin.  Philip Lemonius of Arkansas also took top spot after claiming heat 1.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, in her first public comments on the indecision to resume sporting activities, has moved to dismiss recent suggestions that the authorities should hold off on granting permission to prospective promoters of sporting events applying to the Director of Sports in the Sports Ministry with a view of having their events held.

Her decision to make her views known comes in the wake of an opinion put forward recently by opposition spokesman on health Dr Morais Guy, who says he fears that giving the go-ahead for the resumption of sporting events could cause a significant rise in the number of Covid-19 infections across the island.

“In light of the new spike in numbers, I would recommend that caution be taken to hold off for some time longer. With the current numbers and the resumption of sporting [disciplines] in whatever form there is, the likelihood of a greater spread considering the numbers we have now, plus the interaction of players with each other and the community,” Dr Guy told the Jamaica Observer.

Jamaica has recorded close to 2000 new cases in recent days prompting Prime Minister Andrew Holness to announce new restrictions on movement across the island, especially at night.

However, Fraser-Pryce, who is preparing to compete in her final Olympic Games this summer, believes such a move is not progressive and said as much in a lengthy post on her Facebook account on Saturday.

“I note that there has been some push back to the recent decision by the relevant authorities to give permission for the resumption of sporting activities on a case-by-case basis and without spectators,” said Fraser-Pryce who has yet to open her season because of the cancellation of several track and field meets in recent weeks.

“Some stakeholders in the national conversation have bluntly said that in light of the Covid-19 cases spike in Jamaica, the Government should hold off on granting permission to prospective Sporting events holders applying to the Director of Sports in the Sports Ministry with a view of having their events held.

“While I do not wish to make a political statement, from a point of view of good sense and logic, the perspective that the process established, whereby permission for the holding of sporting events should be suspended, is a perspective not shared by the majority of invested parties.”

The four-time world champion and national 100m record holder argued that there is no evidence that sporting events that have no spectators in a stadium or where spectators are socially distant, have contributed to, or are likely to contribute to, a further spike in Covid-19 cases locally.

She added that she does not believe it is beyond the country to separate elite athletes and limit the number of competitors for each track meet while at the same time allowing for some meaningful resumption of events.

She cited the Velocity Fest meets held at the height of the pandemic last year when no athlete who participated tested positive for the virus.

“We should build on this and pave the way for more sporting events to be had in a safe manner,” Fraser-Pryce opined, adding that the reluctance to resume sporting events is having deleterious effects on athletes and sporting organizations.

“I urge the authorities to bear in mind that many participants in the sports industry in Jamaica cannot go overseas to compete. The mandatory two-week quarantine requirement upon return is not feasible and there's no funding mechanism in place to assist those who are struggling badly due to a lack of finances,” she said.

“I also believe there is room to call for genuine additional support to be given to assist the athletes and other participants in the sports industry.”

She said that while she is aware of the risks associated with competing while the pandemic stiff rages, Fraser-Pryce noted that athletes competing in a controlled environment are safer than those going about their regular daily pursuits. 

“Our regular day-to-day activities are way riskier in terms of exposure when compared to a controlled environment, where tests are conducted and participants in the industry - including those who engage in contact sports - are allowed to proceed with their discipline,” she said.

“Additionally, proper structures, which include testing and adherence to protocols, have also been put in place overseas to accommodate the hosting of contact sports including boxing and football, among others.

“I am confident it is not beyond us here in Jamaica to put in place similar systems to limit the risk of Covid-19 spread while at the same time allowing for the reasonable resumption of the sports industry which has contributed so much to Brand Jamaica.

“It is my view that in the interest of the athletes, along with the national and global psyche and the thousand who depend on the industry, we should strongly resist talk of "holding off" on the process allowed for a formal but control and safe resumption of sporting events.”

Canadian track star, Andre De Grasse, admits to being impressed with the rapid progress of young Jamaica quarter-miler Christopher Taylor.

These days, the athletes often cross paths as both train in Florida with well-respected coach Rana Reider.  Taylor recently opened his season with a quick 45.73 clocking to finish second in the men’s Indoor 400m at the World Athletics Tour in Fayetteville, Arkansas a few weeks ago.

The outing was the prodigy’s first 400m race since 2019, but he had also surprised many last year with a brisk 10.42 over 100m.  De Grasse would, however, not have been among those surprised by the high level of those recent performances.

“He very talented, very, very talented.  Sometimes I ask the coach to put me in a workout with him because he is very good for 300 workouts for me when I am preparing for the 200m,” De Grasse told SportsMax.tv’s The Commentators.

“He is very good.  He just ran the other day and I am really happy for him.  His problem the last couple of years is trying to stay fit and he is very healthy right now and feeling good,” he added.

“It was very impressive (recent run) especially for an indoor season, he’s never done it before, so by the time he comes outdoor he should be in good shape.  I’ve been watching him, he’s been in the group for a couple of years now but I think he is taking a lot of things more seriously.”

Listen to the rest of the interview from this week's The Commentators podcast below.

 
 

 

Leslie Alphonso "Les" Laing, a member of Jamaica’s gold medal-winning mile relay team at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki has died.

Briana Williams is set to make her season debut on Saturday, February 13 at the New Balance Grand Prix that this year will be held in New York instead of Boston, and according to her coach Ato Boldon, she is eager to get going.

Jamaica sprinter and Oregon junior Kemba Nelson clocked a blistering 7.19 to claim victory in the women’s 60 at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Saturday.

In surging to the line, the 20-year-old turned the tables on USC all-American TeeTee Terry.  Terry, the 2019 NCAA champion in the event, finished second in 7.24. Oregon senior Brianna Duncan was third in 7.30.  Nelson’s time is seventh fastest all-time at Oregon.

On the previous day in the 200m, it was Terry who took top billing finishing in 23.35, ahead of Nelson who ran second in 23.53.

Nelson, the national junior double sprint champion in 2019, joined Oregon last fall after three years at the University of Technology (Utech), in Jamaica.

The Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) has vowed to keep a watchful eye on its parent body, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) after pointing out that it had ‘misgivings’ with its management of the country’s football.

Among the concerns highlighted in a press release issued on Friday, KSAFA mentioned a lack of transparency regarding its restructuring proposal.  The local football bodies had clashed last year when the JFF had expressed the desire to implement wide-ranging reform to the island’s clubs and competition structure.

In addition, KSAFA expressed concerns regarding plans being in place for the start of the World Cup Qualifying campaign and youth development programs.  The body has resolved to establish a subcommittee responsible for monitoring and evaluating the actions of the JFF.

“At its meeting held to deliberate wide-ranging missteps of the local governing body, KSAFA was unified in expressing misgivings about the JFF’s plans to chart the course for Jamaica’s football,” the release read.

“KSAFA is committed to not only highlight the JFF’s missteps and to express misgivings, but is also insisting on greater accountability and transparency from the JFF.”

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