It wasn’t necessarily a quest for redemption, but Julien Alfred knew she had a wrong to right when she lined up in the women’s 100m at the Racers Grand Prix last Saturday.

This, as the St Lucian sprint sensation was far from pleased with the execution in her season-opening run at the Prefontaine Classics in Eugene, Oregon, where she placed second behind American World champion Sha’Carri Richardson, a week prior to her arrival in Jamaica.

Alfred admitted that she lost her form after finding herself ahead of the pack in that Prefontaine outing, basically confirming what most track and field enthusiasts are well aware of –that every race is a test of nerves, speed, and resilience.

However, Alfred, the World Indoor 60m champion, demonstrated that true champions are not defined by their setbacks, but by their ability to rise above them, and rise above it she did.

She bounced back in spectacular fashion at the Racers Grand Prix, clocking a brisk personal best 10.78 seconds to equal the meet record set by Shericka Jackson last year. Despite the eye-catching time, Alfred pointed out that she approached the race with a steely resolve, determined to prove her mettle and, more importantly, execute efficiently.

“I wanted to go out here and just work on execution, that was all that mattered. I didn't expect the time that's why I was smiling so much, but I really just wanted to come out here, enjoy the crowd, and work on my execution in preparation for the Olympics,” Alfred declared.

“I usually watch my competitors and how they run, so I know what to work on and whether at the start, I can stay as close to them as possible. So from Eugene (the Prefontaine Classics), I know I had a lot to work on at the end of my race, because I kind of panicked the last 40 metres, because last year I was not leading the pack in any other races, so being in front, I kind of panicked a little. So I wanted to come to Jamaica to work on my execution so we can move forward in each step of the race and prepare for the Olympics,” she added.

There is no doubt that the Racers Grand Prix performance will be a significant boost to Alfred’s confidence going forward, as she remains focused on the road ahead.

With the Paris Olympic Games fast approaching, the 22-year-old, who also boasts a 200m personal best of 21.91s, knows that there is still work to be done and she intends to leave no stones unturned where preparation for the global multi-sport showpiece is concerned.

“I have to go back to my coach. I think my start wasn’t as powerful as in Eugene, but I didn’t mind at all, and my ending, I still fought to the line which was better compared to last week. So, I'm going to go back to training, train four a month, work on the basics again, and then go to Europe and prepare for the Olympics,” she shared.

If her early season indications are anything to go by, then Alfred will certainly be a force to be reckoned with on the biggest stage of all, provided she maintains a clean bill of health. The journey may be long and challenging, but for Alfred, the pursuit of Olympic glory is a challenge worth embracing.

“I think I have a long way to go, to be honest, but I feel good about it (the Racers Grand Prix performance). But you may feel good about it at the time, and then you sit down and watch and you’d be like ‘this could have been better’ but so far, I’m satisfied and I’m not complaining. I just wanted to go out there and do well and that’s the aim for every race going into the Olympics,” Alfred ended.

Jamaica’s double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah has been named Brand Ambassador for Dior, as the French fashion house has put together its own Dream Team ahead of this summer’s Paris Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

Thompson-Herah, who is hunting an historic triple double at this year’s multi-sport showpiece, is among 15 top international female athletes that have been signed to bolster the brand.

The 31-year-old Jamaican National 100m record holder and the fastest woman alive over the distance, is joined by United States soccer player Alex Morgan, the Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup winner who is expected back on the pitch after being sidelined by an ankle injury. 

Hawaiian surfer Carissa Moore, the first winner of the Olympic gold medal in women’s short board surfing at the Tokyo 2020 Games, is also among the list of sporting heroes representing Dior, which belongs to luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, a premium partner of the Paris Games.

In addition, the brand has tapped swimmer Emma McKeon, Australia’s most decorated Olympian with 11 medals in total, and Japanese fencer Misaki Emura.

There are six Italian athletes: fencers Rossella Fiamingo, Alice Volpi and Arianna Errigo, and Paralympic fencers Beatrice “Bebe” Vio Grandis, Andreea Mogos and Loredana Trigilia. 

From France, Team Dior will include boxer Estelle Mossely, skateboarder Louise-Aina Taboulet, fencer Sara Balzer and judoka Clarisse Agbégnénou, who hopes to reap a second Olympic gold medal after her win at the Tokyo Games.

Dior and LVMH had previously revealed three joint ambassadors –gymnast Melanie de Jesus dos Santos, wheelchair tennis player Pauline Déroulède and Para-cyclist Marie Patouillet, who was among the group of athletes that carried the Olympic torch on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday. 

A series of portraits of the participating athletes will go on show at Le Café Dior in La Galerie Dior at the brand’s historic flagship in Paris from July 24 to September 9. 

Antigua and Barbuda’s top senior men’s sprinter, Cejhae Green, is set to make a third Olympic Games appearance, as he recently hit the men’s 100 metres qualifying mark of a flat 10.00 seconds while competing at the PURE Athletics Sprint Elite Meet in Florida, recently.

Greene, 28, who represented his country at the 2016 and 2020 Games in Rio and Tokyo respectively, has qualified for this summer's Paris Olympic Games scheduled for July 26 to August 11.

He achieved the feat when he placed second behind American Kendal Williams who registered a world leading time of 9.93 seconds. Greene's time of 10.00s, is the fourth fastest time this year, as he copped silver ahead of Puerto Rico's Eloy Benitez, who clocked a time of 10.04 seconds.

The Antiguan had previously clocked 10.16 seconds in the preliminary round.

Australia captain Sam Kerr will miss the Olympic Games in Paris after failing to recover from an anterior cruciate ligament injury in time for the team's upcoming friendlies. 

The Chelsea forward suffered the injury during a mid-season training camp in January, leaving her participation in serious doubt.

Kerr represented the Matildas at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, also playing at four World Cups and four Asian Cups during her international career.

On Tuesday, Football Australia confirmed Kerr will not make the Olympic tournament – which begins on July 25 and ends on August 10 – while announcing the squad for two matches against China this month.

"Attacker Amy Sayer (ACL) and forward Sam Kerr (ACL) remain on the sidelines with long-term injuries," a statement from the governing body said. 

"Kerr and Sayer will continue their rehabilitation programmes in their home club environments and subsequently will not be available for selection for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games."

Kerr, who is Australia's record scorer with 69 goals, was limited to just seven starts in the 2023-24 Women's Super League, contributing four goals and three assists for the eventual champions. 

As Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce prepares to bring the curtains down on her remarkable career, another legendary sprinter, Usain Bolt, paid tribute to his esteemed colleague, and also offered words of encouragement to Jamaica's rising stars.

Earlier this year, Fraser-Pryce, one of Jamaica’s most beloved sporting icons, announced that this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris will be her closing act, and it will mark the end of a decorated and enduring career which spanned over a decade.

Fraser-Pryce’s success on the track and consistency at major championships, not only helped to usher in the golden age of Jamaican sprinting, but her electrifying speed and unparalleled grace on the track, has resulted in her being regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time.

With 16 World Championships medal to her name, the “Pocket Rocket” is one of the most decorated athletes to grace the biennial event, and those are backed by her eight Olympic medals. She is the only sprinter to win five world titles in the 100m —2009, 2013, 2015, 2019, and 2022 –the latter coming at the age of 35, making her the oldest sprinter to achieve the feat.

The now 37-year-old Fraser-Pryce, who has won more individual medals than any other female sprinter in history, is aiming to possibly bow out on a high on what would be her fifth Olympic Games appearance in Paris. But win or lose, Bolt pointed out that her dedication, tenacity, and unwavering commitment to excellence has already left an indelible mark on the world of track and field.

“It's just outstanding. I think she's showing me up because that means I could still be running, but for me it's just outstanding to see her at this level and still going further and dominating, being in the medals always, it's just…there's no words, because I know the work that it takes,” Bolt, the ambassador for Red Stripe’s ‘Guh Fi Gold and Glory’ campaign, told journalists during the event’s launch in Half Way Tree recently.

“So, to be dedicated and to be pushing yourself, even after having a child and coming back to doing that (win a World title), just shows the level that she is at, and how determined she is. The women overall have been doing extremely well. They have really dominated the sport. I'm happy to see that,” he added.

Bolt, an eight-time Olympic gold medallist and the world’s fastest man over 100m and 200m, also offered words of encouragement to Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah, who along with Fraser-Pryce are the nation's brightest talents.

Jackson, 29, is the fastest woman alive over 200m at 21.41s, inching ever closer to Florence Joyner’s World Record of 21.34s, while Thompson-Herah, 31, is the fastest woman alive over 100m at 10.54s, and second fastest over 200m at 21.53s.

“I want to tell her [Jackson] to just continue. I think a lot of times, we go in (a race) and think about breaking the record, that's when it really puts a lot of pressure on us. I would tell her, just go in and run your best race. Do not think about the record. The moment you start thinking about records, that's when you might tighten up at the end because you really want to get there, or you might make simple mistakes. So just go out there, think about executing and just run your hardest,” Bolt shared.

Where Thompson-Herah is concerned, she is the first ever female sprinter, and the second sprinter after Bolt to win the sprint double at consecutive Olympics, as she captured the 100m and 200m gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She is now aiming to rewrite the history books, by repeating the feat for a third time on the trot, at the Paris Games.