Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

Lamara Distin of Texas A&M once again etched her name in the record books, as she became the first female high jumper in NCAA history to clear 2.00m (6-6.75) at the South-Eastern Conference (SEC) indoor championships at the Tyson Sports Complex in Fayetteville, on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Distin, who won gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and was a finalist at last year’s World Championships, once again demonstrated her class and rich vein of form in her winning mark.

Along with rewriting her previous national record of 1.97m set last year, Distin also shattered her own meet record of 1.95m, as well as the previous championship record of 1.98m set by Hooker Tex in 2016. She also equaled the facility record.

Distin won ahead of Arkansas’ Rachel Glenn (1.94m) and University of Georgia’s Elena Kulichenko (1.91m). Another Jamaican Nia Robinson or Arkansas was 12th with a new personal best mark of 1.75m.

Jamaica’s Romaine Beckford representing Arkansas also topped the men’s high jump after clearing the bar at 2.25m. He won ahead of Mississippi State’s Sherman Hawkins (2.16m) and Texas A&M’s Ushan Perera (2.11m).

On the track, Brianna Lyston of Louisiana State University, also continued her rich vein of form when she clocked a meet record equalling 7.08 to win the women’s 60m final. She equalled the time set by another Jamaican Remona Burchell of University of Alabama in 2015.

Though disappointed by their hefty defeat to Chile in their opening friendly contest, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert maintain that his youthful senior Reggae Girlz outfit will learn from the setback, as he anticipates an improved performance in the second encounter on Tuesday.

In fact, Gilbert is confident that the more his new-look team plays, the better the performances will be, as they continue to introduce and expose players to the senior programme, mainly due to the current standoff between the World Cup players and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

The Chileans through goals from Michelle Olivares (12th), Maria Jose Urrutia (22nd), Yestin Jimenez (61st), Yenny Acuna (70th) and Paloma Duarte (88th), outclassed their Jamaican counterparts at the Juan Pinto Duran Stadium in Chile on Friday. Chinyelu Asher (77th) with her seventh international goal, pulled one back for the Jamaicans.

“I don’t think we were good enough to be honest, we started off really shaky and allowed them too much space to play despite what we said we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to approach the game. We were a little bit tentative on the back foot and they exploited those areas that we left opened,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

“We were much better in the second half, so we will look to build on that because it is a learning process, and so we will see how best we can carry that momentum over into the next game,” he added.

Along with the lack of preparation heading into the games, Gilbert pointed out that niggling injuries also marred their performance, as a number of the college players are just getting back into season, while former Liverpool midfielder Jade Bailey is still gradually working her way back from a knee surgery.

“It was difficult because some players are recovering from injury and some college players are just heading back into season, but it is what we have to work with, and we just have to put a better showing in the next game. The more we play oppositions like these, the better we will get. As I said before, this is new for a lot of them on the international stage, so the more we play, the more competitive we will be,” Gilbert reasoned.

Still, with the next game scheduled for Tuesday, the veteran tactician is keen on using the remaining time in Chile to work on certain aspects of the team’s game, with hopes of conducting more intensive work when they next assemble for the April window.

“But for now we are just going to recover and assess the game, look at where we went wrong and improve some things that we could have done better. There are some areas that needs more work than what we will be able to fix here, but we are going to ensure we have good defensive organisation,” Gilbert declared.

“So, we are going to give a few other players some minutes to get back into fold and we are going to continue to work to make sure that defensively we are solid, and also tighten up on how we match up against opponents like these, so we should give a better account of ourselves in the next game,” he ended.

Having found a good blend of local and overseas-based players, young Reggae Boyz Head coach John Wall will now be hoping his team can execute efficiently throughout their Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship campaign.

Wall and his 21-member team, which includes 10 overseas-based players, are scheduled to arrive in St Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday where they are expected to fine tune preparations for their Group F assignment against Martinique, Grenada and Bermuda.

The Swedish tactician named his final squad following two warm-up fixtures against their Trinidad and Tobago counterparts, and one against their senior club outfit in the twin island republic. They first lost 2-3 to Trinidad and Tobago, but won the second contest 3-1, with a goalless stalemate against the club team.

Despite those results, Wall in a recent interview, expressed pleasure with his team's display for the most part.

“Three games, three different outcomes, but mainly it (the camp) was just to build a solid foundation in our style of play, how the environment is, what we value and what it takes to play in the national setting. So, it gave me a lot of answers as to where the players are at present, and what needs to be assessed as we move forward towards St Kitts, so hopefully the process can continue ahead of the tournament,” Wall said.

With Jamaica failing to qualify for the Under-20 Men’s World Cup since Argentina 2001, the hope is that Wall’s side will better the country’s quarterfinals run from Honduras in 2022, to accomplish the qualifying feat.

The young Reggae Boyz will open against Martinique on Saturday, followed by a clash with Grenada on February 26, before closing against Bermuda two days later.

“For me it’s about controlling the controllable at this point in terms of what we can do,” Wall, who is assisted by former Reggae Boyz defender Rudolph Austin, declared.

“My hope and aspiration (for the tournament) lie in the work that we put down and not the talent that we assess, so we have to do the work consistently because ultimately what I care about is making sure that Jamaica prevails,” he added.

Only the group winners will progress to the next phase of the Concacaf Under-20 tournament to join the top teams –United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic –ranked in that order.

Squad -Akeem Bernard (Phoenix Academy), Joshua Grant (Real Salt Lake), Taywane Lynch (Mount Pleasant FA), Romain Blake (Chicago Fire), Michael Forbes (Cavalier), Adrian Reid Jr (Cavalier), Ronaldo Barrett (Cavalier), Ahir Dixon (Woodstock Academy), George Grant Jr (Middlesbrough FC), Kyron Horsley McKay (Millwall FC), Alexander Bicknell (Leixoes SC), Malachi Welch (Leyton Orient), Christopher Ainsworth (Cavalier), Brian Burkett (Dunbeholden FC), Dunsting Cohen (Vere United FC), Denzel McKenzie (Phoenix Academy), Robino Gordon (Phoenix Academy), Fabian Reynolds (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Ashton Gordon (Atlanta United), Nick Simmonds (Richmond Kickers), Tyrese Gowe (Dunbeholden FC)

A record sixth-wicket stand between Andre Russell and Sherfane Rutherford was backed by a dazzling spell of spin bowling by Roston Chase, as West Indies salvaged some pride with a 37-run win over Australia to end their three-match Twenty20 (T20) series on a high, on Tuesday.

While Australia took the series 2-1, the consolation win and, by extension the performances of Russell and Rutherford in a 139-run stand, provides a solid platform on which West Indies at can continue to build in their charge towards the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup later this year.

With West Indies in trouble at 79-5, after Rovman Powell opted to bat first, Russell and Rutherford took Australia’s bowlers to task, as they combined for 12 sixes in the record stand that propelled the Caribbean side to a competitive 220-6 at Optus Stadium.

Russell was particularly destructive, as the Jamaican utilized only 29 balls for his 71, which included seven maximums and four fours, while Rutherford’s unbeaten 40-ball 67, included five maximums and five fours.

David Warner, who struck nine fours and three sixes in a 49-ball 81, briefly threatened to overhaul the total, but Australia suffered a mini collapse after his dismissal, as West Indies bowlers came up trumps on this occasion. Tim David with a quickfire 19-ball 41, was Australia's next best scorer. His unbeaten knock had two fours and four sixes. 

Scores: West Indies 220-6 (Russell 71, Rutherford 67 not out, Bartlett 2-37) beat Australia 183-5 (Warner 81, David 41 not out, Chase 2-19, Shepherd 2-31) by 37 runs

Having failed to chase down daunting totals when they lost the first two matches, West Indies captain Powell decided to switch strategies and bat first, but it almost seemed futile when the top-order failed to navigate the extra bounce. Johnson Charles (four), Kyle Mayers (11) and Nicholas Pooran (one), all fell cheaply, as West Indies slipped to 17-3 in the third over.

Powell and Chase restored some semblance of respectability to the innings with a 55-run fourth-wicket stand. But when Chase fell for 37 off 20 balls, including three fours and two sixes, Powell went soon after for a 14-ball 21 that had three boundaries, and West Indies were steering down the proverbial barrel at that point.

However, Russell and Rutherford were in defiant mood. The two slaughtered Australia’s bowlers and raised their half-centuries in 25 balls and 33 balls respectively, and inevitably pushed West Indies past the 200-run mark.

Much like he started his innings, Russell ended in explosive fashion, as he struck Adam Zampa for three-consecutive sixes in a penultimate over that yielded 28 runs, but later holed out in the last over and walked off the ground to a standing ovation from the over 17,000 crowd.

Xavier Bartlett was Australia’s most successful bowler with 2-37 from his four overs.

Knowing they required a solid start, Australia reshuffled their batting order, with captain Mitchell Marsh taking opening duties alongside Warner. But Marsh struggled for rhythm and was overshadowed by Warner, who overcame a rough start when a short delivery from Alzarri Joseph banged into the grill via his shoulder.

After Marsh fell for 17, wickets continued to tumble around Warner, who raced to a half-century off 25 balls. The left-hander seemed set for a second T20I century, but was overburdened in the middle overs, and eventually holed out to Russell off Chase.

From there, Australia’s innings fell apart, even with David's late burst, as Chase, who proved an inspired selection, ended with tidy figures of 2-19 from four overs. He was well supported by seamer Romario Shepherd, who had 2-31.

Reigning champions Mount Pleasant Football Academy reclaimed their regular position in the top two on the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League standing, following a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Harbour View at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Monday.

Devonte Campbell (25th) and Shaqueil Bradford (35th) got the goals for Mount Pleasant, after Demar Rose gave Harbour View an early second-minute lead in the encounter that started at a decent pace, but lost tempo in the second half.

The win, which extended Mount Pleasant’s unbeaten run across seven games, pushed the St Ann-based team up to 39 points, one behind leaders Cavalier, on 40 points.

Tivoli Gardens (37 points), Portmore United (36 points), Arnett Gardens (34 points) and Waterhouse FC (26 points), occupy the other playoff positions. Harbour View are ninth on 19 points.

Winning coach Theodore Whitmore was pleased with his team’s recovery after conceding early.

“It was a high intensity game which is what we expected, but the problem is how we started the first half, and secondly, we played in the middle, instead of going out wide where we needed to play because that is where we are dangerous. After we sorted that, we got back into the game and got the job done,” Whitmore said in a post-game interview.

“After conceding, we didn’t panic, we maintained our focus and used the width of the pitch and that is where we were successful. So, it was a good win, but we want to take it game-by-game and just do what we have to do,” he added.

It was a frantic start to the contest, as Harbour View grabbed the early ascendancy, when Demar Rose lashed a right-footer past Mount Pleasant’s goalkeeper Shaquan Davis from deep inside the 18-yard box, after Jashaun Anglin neatly chested the ball down into his path.

The ‘Stars of the East’ continued to enjoy the better of possession and should have doubled the lead in the 11th Okeemo Jones broke down the right channel with Rose for company in a two-on-one situation. However, he was hesitant in getting the pass off and was later dispossessed by a recovering defender.

That missed opportunity proved costly 14 minutes later, as Mount Pleasant pulled level courtesy of a tidy team build up, which ended with Campbell firing home his second of the season from an angle, after Daniel Green’s initial effort was parried by Davis.

From there, Whitmore’s side took advantage of the game, as they spread the ball to the left channel, in particular, where Campbell utilized his speed and nippy footwork to rattle Harbour View’s defence.

Three minutes past the half-hour mark, the 20-year-old Campbell produced a burst of speed down the left channel and was felled inside the danger area by Jones.

Referee Christopher Mason quickly pointed to the spot, and Bradford, who was assigned responsibility, made no mistakes from the 12-yard spot to put Mount Pleasant 2-1 up.

Mount Pleasant thought they had a third when Sue-Lae McCalla got the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed by referee Mason, who spotted a handball.

They again got the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time, but again it didn’t count as Bradford’s finish was from an offside position, and the score remained 2-1 at the break.

The second half, which was marred by stoppages, offered very little to write home about where goalmouth action is concerned, as both teams nullified each other’s attacking prowess and, as such, were unable to really produce anything meaningful in the final third.

Though slightly disappointed with the outcome, Harbour View’s Head coach Ludlow Bernard took heart from his team’s performance.

“I thought we gave it our all it is just unfortunate that after two breaks, we conceded and this about the third time this has happened, so we have to concentrate better,” said Bernard, who also took a jab at the officiating.

“I wouldn’t entirely say it was down to indiscipline, but more incompetence on the part of the officials. I think they were extremely poor, but that is that my guys battled hard, I think we needed to continue being patient with our build ups and that is a positive that we will build on going forward,” he noted.

Matchweek 18 Results

Cavalier 4, Lime Hall Academy 0

Molynes United 2, Portmore United 2

Dunbeholden FC 1, Treasure Beach FC 1

Humble Lion 0, Tivoli Gardens 2

Montego Bay United 0, Arnett Gardens 0

Vere United 0, Waterhouse FC 1

Harbour View 1, Mount Pleasant FA 2

Kemar Foster, one of the most influential shot stoppers in the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League, produced a gritty goalkeeping display to ensure Waterhouse edged Vere United 1-0 in a lively contest at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Monday.

Foster, who often partners Reggae Boyz captain Andre Blake on national duties, made a number of saves to shutout Vere United in a dazzling performance that pushed the Drewsland-based team over the line after Revaldo Mitchell’s solitary 24th-minute strike.

The 31-year-old Foster displayed unbeatable form, which underlined his credentials. He claimed crosses, shut down angles and even went full stretch to tip shots around and over his goal frame. Nothing was too much to ask of Foster on the day, as he flew around his box, putting his body on the line to deny Vere United.

It’s gritty goalkeeper performances like this that keep teams in the hunt for championship honours, and the shutout not only handed Waterhouse three points, but also propelled them back into the top six on 26 points, two points ahead of seventh-placed Dunbeholden, and three ahead of eighth-placed Montego Bay United, their closest pursuers. Vere United on the other hand, remains 10th on 19 points.

Foster, who required medical attention on a few occasions, felt he was exposed too often, but expressed content with his display between the sticks, which is sometimes overlooked.

“In the midfield, I think we gave Vere too much space to play and they did play. Teams will hurt you once you give them space, but I am fortunate to come out with a clean sheet,” Foster said in a post-game interview.

“It (goalkeeping duty) is rough to be honest, you have to stay focus after a game like this and not get ahead of yourself, and also ensure you recover properly and rest when possible before hitting training hard again. This is the best performance I had so far this season, it’s a long season, so I am hoping I can have many more like this going forward.” he added.

After a spirited start, it took Vere United 15 minutes to ask their first question of Foster, and the custodian proved equal to the task when he went full-stretch to his right to parry Odane Murray’s stinging right-footed effort.

That may have been the wake-up call Waterhouse needed, as they got into their rhythm shortly after, and eventually found the go-ahead goal. It came when Navardo Blair’s free kick sparked a melee, which ended with Mitchell tucking home from close range after Javane Bryan and Andre Fletcher’s efforts were desperately kept out by Javier Brown on the goal line.

Though they continued to threaten in open play, Waterhouse failed to add to their tally, as numerous half-chances were squandered and, as such, the score remained unchanged at the break.

Like they did at the start, Vere United came out more purposeful on the resumption, but unlike the first half, they didn’t allow Waterhouse a look-in on this occasion, and were only denied by Foster’s resilience.

It took two great saves in quick success by Foster to deny Vere United in the 54th, as he first blocked Kemar Beckford’s well-struck left-footed shot and recovered well to parry Justin Cohen’s acrobatic effort on the rebound.

Vere pressed the ascendancy and found a couple more openings in the latter stages of the contest from which they again tested Foster’s mettle in their probe to pull level.

Javon Smith got on the end of weighted Javier Brown corner kick with a firm header, but Foster got down well to his right to squeeze out the effort at his near post.

And even with the game nearing its end, Vere United’s substitute Lorenzo Lewin unleashed a well-struck snapshot, and Foster again came up big in time added to ensure his team secured all three points.

Waterhouse’s assistant coach Damion Gordon hailed the defensive line for holding firm as their attacking front came up short.

“The big question surrounds our consistency. I thought our first half was very good and they (Vere United) were clearly better than us in the second half, but in terms of our defensive structure, I think we did well,” he said.

For Vere United’s Head coach Linval Dixon, there is cause for concern over his team’s failure to convert a goal in five straight games, but he is also mindful that it is not for a lack of trying.

“Not scoring goals is disturbing for us because we have really been working hard in training to score, so it is cause for concern. But we are still working, and we are still fighting. It is just that we came up against a national goalkeeper and he was the difference in the game. I can’t fault the team for effort so like I said, we will continue working because when we start scoring things will change,” Dixon declared.

With members of last year’s senior Reggae Girlz FIFA World Cup squad and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) still yet to amicably agree on the way forward, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert has once again pooled a fairly inexperienced team for a two-match friendly against Chile later this month.

Gilbert, who welcomed the fixtures, and his Reggae Girlz is expected to assemble in the South American country on February 21, ahead the two games scheduled for February 23 and 27.

“It is always important to utilize the FIFA windows so getting these games is a good move from the JFF and, of course, we get to expose some of the young talent that we have to offer to top level competition so they can gain the necessary experience that will be required as we look ahead,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

The 22-player squad comprises mostly players that contested last year’s Women’s Gold Cup qualifiers, with former Liverpool midfielder Jade Bailey, who recently signed with London City Lionesses, making a return to the national setup following a knee surgery, while National Under-17 representative Naya Cardoza, makes her transition to the senior team.

“It is very good to have Jade back she is a very good player who was out for quite some time, so it is good to have her back in the fold giving her level of experience and we expect her to be one of the leaders in the team where guiding the younger players is concerned,” Gilbert noted.

This will be the second two-match friendly series between the two teams following their 2019 meeting in Jamaica, which the Reggae Girlz won 1-0 and 3-2. However, Chile came away 6-0 winners in their most recent meeting at last year’s Pan American Games.

“We are expecting another good game from Chile, obviously they are a pretty good team with a lot to offer. It is never comfortable going into another team’s base to play, so we just have to go there and give of our best, because like I said, these games are important for players to not only gain experience, but also to develop some semblance of cohesion going forward,” Gilbert reasoned.

Squad: Theanna Burnett (Sacred Heart University), Serena Mensa (Fordham University), Malikae Dayes (AAB, Denmark), Zoe Vidaurre (George Mason University), Nevillegail Able (University of Maine, Fort Kent), Chinyelu Asher (SCU Torreense), Alika Keene (SK Slavia Praha Zeny), Ricshya Walker (LaSalle University), Marlo Sweatman (Viktoria Haladas), Christina Salmon (William Carey University), Davia Richards Player (Hill College),Mikayla Dayes (Rodez AF, France), Shaneil Buckley (Excelsior High), Melissa Johnson (Charlton Athletic Women FC), Aliyah Morgan (George Mason University), Jade Bailey (London City Lionessess), Destiny Powell (Excelsior High), Lachante Paul (Burnley FC), Isreala Groves (London City Lionesses), Naya Cardoza (Brown University), Njeri Butts (University Of Florida), Sydnie Street (Seneca College)

Tivoli Gardens, for the second time this season, downed neighbours Arnett Gardens 3-1, but the manner in which they did it on this occasion would certainly have sent a message to their other rivals in the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League (WNJPL).

Not only did Tivoli Gardens have to come from behind in the marquee Monday night encounter at the Stadium East Field, but they did so at a numerical disadvantage in tough underfoot conditions caused by evening showers.

The West Kingston team was spurred by a brace from former Arnett Gardens winger Steve Clarke (76th and 80th), and a long overdue strike from the league's joint leading scorer Justin Dunn (73rd), after they lost substitute Howard Morris to a straight red card in the 61st. Fabian Reid had earlier put Arnett Gardens in front in the 57th minute.

With the win, which extended their unbeaten run across four matches, Tivoli's Gardens inched up to fourth on 34 points, while Arnett Gardens, who had their three-match unbeaten run snapped, slipped to fourth on 33 points.

Winning coach Jerome Waite welcomed Clarke's impact on his return to the league.

"Despite the fact that we weren't prepared where the proper footing is concerned, the result ended in our favour. I spoke about the players who came in through the transfer market and today you saw what those players basically have to offer," Waite said, adding that losing Morris didn't affect their game plan much.

"The only change was that we had a three-pronged attack, and we asked one of those players to sit in the midfield. These players, the worked that they put in leading up to this game, showed here and it can only can better as the season progresses," he noted.

Arnett Gardens dominated proceedings for most of the first half and had a few openings from which they should have opened the scoring but failed to make them count. After Warner Brown skied a left-footed effort from deep inside the 18-yard box, Keheim Dixon, had a clear 12th-minute opportunity in a one-on-one situation with Tivoli Gardens goalkeeper Diego Haughton, but fired his effort into the crossbar.

With very little going Tivoli Gardens way, Dunn tried his luck from a distance, but Asher Hutchinson in goal for Arnett Gardens, got down well to his right to parry.

Reid also had a grand opportunity to break the deadlock in the 27th minute when he went on a break and dismissed Haughton, who strayed off his line, but the Arnett Gardens captain was undone by the conditions, as the score remained goalless at the break.

However, Reid made amends for his earlier slip up and sent the ‘Junglists’ in front 12 minutes into the resumption, as he got on the end of a Jamone Shepherd pass and fired past Haughton, who again strayed off his line and was caught in no man's land.

Along with the lead, Arnett Gardens also had a numerical advantage when Morris was sent for an early shower by referee Oshane Nation, but seemingly got complacent, and were punished for it. This, as Tivoli Gardens went rampant in the final 20 minutes of the contest and were assisted by some shoddy defending by their opponents.

The West Kingston team’s fortunes turned when a well-struck 71st-minute freekick by substitute Vishinul Harris, was kept out parried by Hutchinson and Shepherd senselessly felled Alton Lewis inside the danger area.

Dunn, who endured a lengthy goal drought after his blistering start to the season, stepped up and converted from the 12-yard spot to pull Tivoli Gardens level with his 10th goal of the season.

From there, it was the Steve Clarke show, as the former Arnett Gardens man doubled the lead three minutes later when he got on the end of Harris’s delightful through-pass and fired past Hutchinson on a second attempt.

Clarke then completed his brace and the victory for Tivoli Gardens when he finished a right-footer with aplomb, after Arnett Gardens failed to clear their lines from Shaquille Jones’s cross.

Arnett Gardens' Head coach Xavier Gilbert believed they were undone by a lack of proper game management. 

"I think we made some poor decisions around the back, but credit to Tivoli Gardens for the way they came at us because I think we managed the game poorly and we have to be smarter than that. We were a goal up and a man up and I just don't think we made good decisions, so it's just unfortunate and we just have move on...bounce back quickly and a move on," Gilbert said.

Matchweek 17 Results

Lime Hall Academy 1, Treasure Beach FC 0

Montego Bay United 2, Vere United 0

Portmore United 1, Dunbeholden 1

Mount Pleasant FA 1, Molynes United 1

Waterhouse 0, Cavalier FC 1

Humble Lion 2, Harbour View 4

Tivoli Gardens 3, Arnett Gardens 1

With another display of his tremendous riding prowess, Jamaican-born United States-based jockey Shaun Bridgmohan registered his first ever win on Jamaican soil, with a come-from-behind effort aboard Phillip Feanny’s Fearless Soul, in Division One of the George HoSang Trophy at Caymanas Park on Saturday.

Bridgmohan’s 4-1/2 lengths triumph with the four-year-old chestnut colt, in the Restricted Allowance IV contest for native-bred four-year-olds and upward (non-winners of three) and imported four-year-olds and upward (non-winners of two), over five and a half furlongs (1,100m), marked another milestone in a decorated career –his 3,400th career win –and where better to have secured it that in the land of his birth.

The 44-year-old jockey, a Spanish Town native, who migrated to the United States at age of 13, dedicated the win to his father Gerald, who was unable to make the trip.

“It is nice to come down here and win a race. I want to thank my trainer Mr. Feanny for giving me the opportunity to ride a nice little horse today. Obviously, I couldn’t mess it up because he had him in great shape, so all I had to do was just keep him out of trouble,” Bridgmohan told SportsMax in a post-race interview.

“I watched him (Fearless Soul) race the last time he won, and he seemed like he was a much better horse on the outside, so my strategy going in was just to keep him wide and give him a clear path. When I pushed the trigger, he accelerated so fast and I thought I asked him a little too soon, but I just followed through. Dad this one is for you, and I love you,” he added.

Breaking from the number two draw, Bridgmohan and Fearless Soul, the 4-5 favourite, were slow from the gate and their trouble was compounded as they were crowded for space in the early exchanges.

With Strike Smart (Phillip Parchment) and Loyal Action (Tevin Foster) setting some decent early fractions of 23.2 and 47.2 seconds, it wasn’t until they left the half-mile (800m) point, that Bridgmohan and Fearless Soul found some racing room, and launched their attack from there.

After Strike Smart turned for home first, Bridgmohan and Fearless Soul entered the stretch run three wide with Royal Ash (Raddesh Roman) for company. However, with just a few more shake of the hands, followed by a flash of the whip by Bridgmohan, Fearless Soul easily rounded rivals and sprinted away in the final furlong to win in a final time of 1:07.2.

Strike Smart, Royal Ash and She’s Myhedgefund (Trevor Simpson), completed the frame behind the Balkrishen Sagan-Maraj-owned charge.

Meanwhile, Tevin Foster, who starred on the day with a dazzling four-timer, won Division Two of the George HoSang Trophy aboard Paul Swaby’s Kem in a time of 1:08.2.

His other winners on the nine-race programme were Howard Jaghai;s Speed On Wheels in the Eight Thirty Sprint; She’s A Godgift for trainer Leroy Tomlinson, and the Rohan Crichton-conditioned Bern Notice.

Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president Christopher Samuda says the value of their renewed partnership with Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) goes beyond money, as his organization advocates and understands that greater currency is derived from social investment in the human capital and infrastructure of sport, athletes, coaches and administrators.

This, as the extended five-year partnership valued at $75 million represents a significant boost towards the country’s preparations for international competitions, including the Olympic Games in Paris, later this year.

“This five-year cash investment at a value of $75 million will fulfill that purpose and serve to build out the Olympic infrastructure in a substantive way, while facilitating talent in transitioning to the greatest stage, the Olympic stage, where aspirations in sport will be realized, as we at the JOA, engender in stakeholders, responsible citizenship in sport,” Samuda told SportsMax.TV shortly after the signing at the JOA’s headquarters on Friday.

Samuda stated that reshaping the JOA to broaden involvement is the paradigm of the current executive, as he pointed to the SVL’s increased investment, from its previous $45 million agreement over three years, as a testament of their belief in, and by extension, commitment to the movement. Besides athletics, numerous other sporting disciplines will be hunting qualification to the Paris Games.

“The renewal of this multi-million partnership between the Jamaica Olympic Association and Supreme Ventures Limited at a significant increased value, demonstrates corporate confidence in the Jamaica Olympic Association, and SVL’s unwavering commitment to the Olympic movement and indeed sport. But its value goes beyond money,” Samuda shared.

“The activations which will be carried out under this partnership will demonstrate innovation in the delivery of sports, specific skills in areas including education, coaching, business and commerce, governance and management, science and technology, as well as branding and marketing. All this while giving strategic support to events, all with the objective of blueprinting the creation of a local sport industry which is an imperative of economic development,” he added.

Meanwhile, SVL’s Executive Chairman, Gary Peart, said the decision to renew their sponsorship was made as a commitment to Jamaica’s athletes. He also credited the JOA for their efforts and transparency throughout their partnership.

“They sold us on a vision, they updated along the way in terms of what the results have been, and it’s been an exceptional journey. We took the decision 18 months ago that we’d renew, it was just a matter of how the renewal would be," Peart said.

"We sponsor several initiatives in our business on an annual basis and JOA ranks in the top one or two in terms of what the whole process is, the returns, etc. Ultimately, this money helps not just the Olympic movement but athletes and their ability to shine on the international stage, and hopefully get gold when they participate. We at SVL, we’re just happy to assist with that,” he noted.

Peart also announced that SVL will be giving Jamaicans the opportunity to attend the games in France through various promotions to be announced in the coming weeks.

Shanice Beckford knew adjusting to life in Australia would take some doing, but knowing the opportunity that was there to be grasped, she did not hesitate to make the move when West Coast Fever called.

Just as Beckford expected, the first two weeks in Perth took its toll, but she is just about getting ready to turn the proverbial corner ahead of what she hopes will be a very successful debut stint in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) League.

“The first two weeks were difficult for me, but I must say it has been quite fun. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, with a strong emphasis on family-oriented activities. I'm really loving the environment so far. Despite some initial struggles with my sleeping patterns, I'm gradually settling in. Overall, everything is going pretty well and I'm feeling quite content with my decision to join this club,” Beckford told SportsMax.TV.

To her credit, Beckford adapted quite quickly and judging by her bubbly and energetic movements in training so far, the talented goal-attack is merely just getting started where taking on a significant workload and displaying her usual craftiness on court is concerned as she fits into the new environment.

“I am learning to be patient with myself and to trust my coaches, teammates, and the process as I gradually work my way into the team. I am taking my time to improve and find my place in the different combinations,” Beckford shared.

“Although, I am still adjusting to the time zone, when it comes to training, it's a whole different ball game. Moreover, it's been good as I have enough time to recover, and I don’t have to worry about rushing to work or getting home late at night, like the challenges we face back home in Jamaica. I felt like after the first two weeks, everything became a little easier to handle,” she added.

Despite the fact that she has honed her skills in a fairly successful career spanning 10 years, Beckford, 28, was eager to not only parade her skills in the SSN, but also to continue her development outside of the Sunshine Girls setup, and for her West Coast Fever represents the perfect fit.

“Being in this environment will provide me with the necessary structural skills and resources to unlock a new level of potential in my netball career. So far, it's been going well, although, I can’t stress this enough, the first two weeks were a bit of a struggle as I had to get back into the groove and adapt to the standards and way of playing of the Fever team. However, I'm getting there and I'm pretty excited to see how much this experience will enhance my skillset and develop me as a player by the end,” the soft-spoken player noted.

With the start of the season still just over two months out, Beckford expressed excitement at the prospects for her and Fever’s teammates – which includes compatriots Jhaniele Fowler and Kadie-Ann Dehaney –to find success and, by extension, lay a solid foundation for a possible future at the club, as she has not ruled out the idea of an extension on her one-year contract.

The Dan Ryan-coached West Coast Fever, which won the title in 2022, will open their campaign in this, the eight edition of the SSN against Giants on April 13.

“I'm feeling very optimistic about this fresh crop of girls. It's an entirely new-look team, with many new players joining the ranks alongside some of our more seasoned members. Despite the differences in experience and style, we're blending together seamlessly and making excellent progress so far,” Beckford said. 

“So, I am prepared to do my best to get the job done, no matter what condition I am in. Everyone wants to play in the finals at the end of the season, but I know it won't be easy. Therefore, I am keeping an open mind, embracing the journey, and taking things one session at a time and it will be the same approach come game time,” she declared.

Having so far achieved all that she set out to when she just launched her career as an 18-year-old, Beckford pointed out that adding a SSN title to her accolades, would be the icing on top.

She has so far won Commonwealth Games medals in 2014, 2018 and 2022, along with Fast5 medals in 2013, 2017 and 2018, as well as a Netball World Cup medal last year. All this is complemented by her 2015 stint in England’s Superleague.

“Personally, winning the SSN title would be an incredible moment that I wouldn't be able to explain right now. Let’s just say it would be the icing on the cake, and I know the West Coast Fever family would be thrilled with the victory,” she ended.

Having watched the Kraigg Brathwaite-captained Test team defy the odds in the second of their two-match series against Australia, West Indies One-Day International captain Shai Hope is optimistic that his unit will not only continue that momentum, but more importantly, replicate the feat in their three-match series.

There was much talk about the Test team and its seven uncapped players, among them rising fast bowler Shamar Joseph, who braved a toe injury to snare a seven-wicket haul and lead West Indies to a famous eight-run win –their first in Australia in 27 years.

With the excitement of that victory still very much fresh in the air, Hope and is unit, which includes five players from the Test squad, is intent on extending the celebrations.

The three-match series bowls off on Thursday at 10:30pm.

“It was a very inspiring win that they had in the last Test. It’s great momentum for us, of course it’s a different format, but great signs for us to continue what happened in the last Test in this ODI series,” Hope said in a pre-game press conference.

“It (the mood in the camp) is pretty good. Everyone's up and ready to roll. Seeing some of these grounds here in Australia, that in itself (makes you) want to play cricket so the guys are upbeat and ready to go,” he added.

It was a mixed bag for West Indies last year where results are concerned with their failed World Cup qualifying campaign and a loss to India at the height of their disappointments. However, they rebounded with 3-0 and 2-1 series victories over United Arab Emirates (UAE) and England, followed by a stalemate with South Africa.

Despite the fact that they have won seven of 12 ODIs last year, Hope is mindful that West Indies is yet to beat Australia in a series in almost three decades.

“Like we always say in the dressing room, every game matters, not necessarily about series or an opponent. You have to take every single game as a final and it's nice to see that the guys are really taken to the new system and the we're trying to play our cricket. So yeah, it's just one game at a time and then the results will take care of themselves,” Hope noted.

That said, Hope welcomed the challenge for his fairly inexperienced squad, which includes eight players with 10 or less ODIs under their belts, as they commence the rebuilding phase to towards possible qualification for the next ODI World Cup in four years. Teddy Bishop and Tevin Imlach are both uncapped.

“Yeah, it's I think it's great to widen that pool and what is a better way to start a career than here in Australia for some of the guys. But yes, I think four years seems like a long time, but it really isn't and as much games as these guys can play over that span, I think it's going to widen the pool and then give us a headache when that time comes to hopefully select a strong squad, and then they would also gain a lot more experience with that time,” Hope, who has been at the helm for almost a year declared.

WEST INDIES – Shai Hope (captain), Alzarri Joseph, Alick Athanaze, Teddy Bishop, Keacy Carty, Roston Chase, Matthew Forde, Justin Greaves, Kavem Hodge, Tevin Imlach, Gudakesh Motie, Kjorn Ottley, Romario Shepherd, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr.

AUSTRALIA – Steve Smith (captain), Travis Head, Sean Abbott, Xavier Bartlett, Nathan Ellis, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Cameron Green, Aaron Hardie, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Lance Morris, Matt Short, Adam Zampa

With the country basically in a rebuilding phase where getting swimmers back on the Olympic stage is concerned, Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) president Lance Rochester says the immediate focus of his administration is to provide the necessary backing to top level athletes, who boast the potential to achieve the feat.

Apart from decorated five-time Olympian Alia Atkinson, only Timothy Wynter and Keanan Dols, who showed at the 2016 and 2020 Games in Rio and Tokyo respectively, have made the step forward in recent times. But with all three now retired, it is left to be seen if and when other Jamaican swimmers will appear on that big stage.

While there are a number of prospects namely Kito Campbell, Zaneta Alvaranga, Sidrell Williams, Emily MacDonald, Sabrina Lyn, Nathaniel Thomas, Kaheem Lozer and Kyle Sinclair, Rochester is well aware that along with hard work, the swimmers –particularly those in universities –also require support, financial and otherwise, to bring their Olympic dream to fruition.

Outside of Williams, who will be hunting qualification to this year’s Paris Olympic Games at the 28th Karl Dalhouse Memorial Invitational Meet, the others are first- and second-year students all in strong university programmes, which include gym and sports psychology.

However, financial assistance could provide an avenue for those swimmers to travel to highly-competitive swim meets in the Americas to further improve their craft.

“Swimming has very, very bright prospects for Jamaica. Not just swimming, but all aquatic sports. What we're focused on now is providing the best investments to those athletes at the elite level who are vying for placement within the Paris Olympic Games and the Olympic cycle right after that,” Rochester told SportsMax.TV during the launch of the Karl Dalhouse meet on Tuesday.

“So, the question is how to invest in them, how to provide them with the right competition experience, locally and overseas, and also the investments in terms of technology and high performance that they will need, so that’s what we are focused on that right now,” he added.

At the same time, Rochester explained that they also have sights set on a long-term project which includes an expansion of swim programmes to both unearth and develop talent right across the island.

“So, we are meeting with regard to our expansion programme targeting more pools, to find the talent that exists in our learn to swim programme and develop it appropriately over time. This of course is a 20-year project, but we're embarking on that starting now,” he shared.

On that note, Rochester pointed to the significance of swim meets such as the Karl Dalhouse Memorial Invitational in the development of age group swimmers, in particular.

This year’s staging of the meet hosted by Y-Speedos Swim Club, serves as a qualifier to the Paris Olympic Games, and will see over 500 swimmers, including those from four clubs in the Cayman Islands and Florida, parade their skills over three days from Friday (February 2) to Sunday (February 4).

“The Karl Dalhouse meet is exceptionally important and has been for many athletes over the years. Many coaches will time this meet in terms of qualification needs for bigger events. Many coaches will time this meet to ensure their athlete peaks at the right time. It's exceptionally well-organized, well supported by some very fast swimmers overseas and it augurs well for the development of our swimming in Jamaica that we have meets as important as these and others as well,” the president declared.

Finally, Rochester, who recently took office stressed the need for corporate sponsorship, which he said will be critical in terms of achieving their goals to invest in swimmers among other things.

“We are looking to demonstrate to corporate Jamaica why the ASAJ is a great investment opportunity. Swimming, yes, but all our eight aquatic disciplines, how we manage our governance our transparency, our accountability, what we're able to deliver to our athletes with learn to swim, nutrition, sports psychology and producing great athletes over the long term. So, we're encouraging our partners to come on board with us and support us in this mission to develop Jamaica,” Rochester ended.

While pleased with aspects of their team’s display in the first warm-up contest, Trinidad and Tobago’s Under-20 Men’s Head coach Brian Haynes and his Jamaican counterpart John Wall are optimistic of a more efficient display from their respective units when the two teams meet again on Thursday.

The young Soca Warriors edged the young Reggae Boyz 3-2 in the first contest at the University of TT, O'Meara Campus recently, with Lindell Sween, Levi Jones and Michael Chaves on target for the hosts, while Jahmani Bell and Demarion Harris, pulled things back for Jamaica.

That contest, both coaches believe, not only provided the impetus needed to finalize selection of their respective squads for next month’s Caribbean phase of the Concacaf Under-20 Men’s Championships, as they only had a few training sessions prior, which doesn’t necessarily assist in highlighting the true competitive nature and, by extension, cohesiveness of the teams.

Haynes expressed satisfaction with the progress of his players, especially as he explored different combinations.

"As far as I am concerned the exercise was good. Nobody's hurt, thank God. The guys worked hard and the main group, the group that started, they did what we wanted them to do, and I thought the guys that came in did a good job as well,” Haynes said.

"I commend the Jamaica team for coming down and giving us a good game, because this is what we need and this is what they need and hopefully this propels us to keep playing at the level I know we can,” he added.

Still, no performance is ever perfect, and as such, Haynes said the objective remains to strengthen their flaws in all areas to ensure that the young Soca Warriors not only prove more formidable in the next game, but also against their more illustrious opponents in future fixtures.

Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica will lock horns in the second warm-up encounter on Thursday at Larry Gomes Stadium at 4:00 pm.

For the upcoming tournament, Haynes’s side will host Group D which includes Canada, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines with only the group winner set to progress.

"There are things we have to work on, but right now I am really happy with the result for the boys,” Haynes noted.

Wall echoed similar sentiments, even as the young Reggae Boyz held Police FC’s youth team to a goalless stalemate in another encounter.

"The whole idea of these games is to create relationships and a common understanding on our game model. So, there are instances where we are kind of pleased with what we saw and for me it’s the bigger picture of getting ourselves ready and competitive for the tournament,” Wall shared.

"One of the core non-negotiables that we have is that no matter what, we don’t give up because we are playing for our nation which is a big responsibility.  So, there are areas we need to improve on with regards to our pressing, counter-pressing and some other technical things in that region,” he reasoned.

Wall’s side will contest Group F with Bermuda, Grenada and Martinique in St Kitts and Nevis in the upcoming tournament.

After round-robin play in the Concacaf qualifying opening round between February 23 and March 2, the group winners will progress to the Championship round to join the six pre-seeded nations – United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic –ranked in that order.

Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president, Christopher Samuda, welcomed a recent move by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to accommodate athletes' freedom of expression, albeit with certain restrictions, during the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Though athletes have frequently used the Olympic stage to make statements through boycotts and protests, the IOC in a bid to not only protect the Games integrity, but also to strike a balance between freedom of expression and maintaining a respectful and competitive environment, has set out the places and forbidden topics where competitors will be able to express their opinions.

At the Paris Games, athletes will be able to express themselves freely in all but five moments –the opening and closing ceremonies, the medal ceremonies, during competition and during their stay in the Olympic Village. 

As such, the mixed areas where they interact with the media, press centres, press conferences, interviews, team meetings, traditional or digital media, social networks and pre-competition moments, such as call room and athlete presentation, will be the appropriate places for athletes to defend their points of view, but still under certain conditions.

For Samuda, the move represents a step in the right direction in the current era.

The Tokyo Games opened the door to the expression in the Olympic environment, which had been completely banned at previous editions. This, as players from the women's football teams of Great Britain, Chile, United States, Sweden, and New Zealand knelt on the pitch before some matches to protest against racism.

“The decision of the IOC to give a voice to athletes in designated spaces at the 2024 Olympic Games is laudable. The recognition of the inalienable right to freedom of expression which, notwithstanding, must be exercised responsibly so as to safeguard the integrity and reputation of the Games, which is of immense brand value to athletes, and importantly, to protect sport, which creates a meaningful livelihood for athletes and stakeholders,” Samuda told SportsMax.TV.

“Giving athletes a voice to articulate their viewpoints in spaces including the mixed areas where they will interface with the media, and also in press conferences, centres and interviews, as well as team meetings and traditional and new media, demonstrates athlete centricity on the part of the IOC,” he added.

Among the restrictions placed on athletes is the fact that they must respect the basic principles of Olympism, and refrain from attacking individuals, organisations or countries. Athletes are also expected to follow the instructions of their Olympic committee or federation, and avoid disruptive behaviour.

Disruptive behaviour in this case, could be making comments during the presentation or anthem of other athletes, or displaying a flag or banner at that moment.

According to rules published by the IOC, failure to comply with these rules may result in disciplinary action proportionate to the offence.

This, Samuda believes is a responsible stance by the IOC, as with the conferment of a right comes responsibility and therefore, athletes in their expression must also adhere to the IOC rules and guidelines.

“A very reasonable position which I have no doubt will be subject to further refinement as sport evolves globally, and the imperative to protect its integrity becomes more acknowledged in the interest of athletes and their livelihood,” Samuda reasoned.

“Capital and stakeholder satisfaction prefer a risk free and regulated environment in which to thrive. So, striking a balance between liberty to speak and the responsibility of remaining silent provides a safe haven for viable return on investment and engagement,” he ended.

 

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