Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

Tokyo Olympic finalist Natoya Goule established a world-leading time in the 800m at the New Balance Grand Prix on Staten Island, New York on Sunday.

The diminutive Jamaican was among several Caribbean athletes, who delivered outstanding performances at the meet as Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards ran under 46 seconds indoors for the first time to win the 400m while Danielle Williams ran a lifetime best to win the 60m hurdles.

The 30-year-old Goule, who was second to Ajee Wilson at the Millrose Games on January 29, ran 1:59.62 to win the 800m ahead of Olivia Baker, whose 2:00.63 was a personal best. Isabelle Boffey also ran a personal-best 2:01.37 for third.

Goule said afterwards that she was very grateful for the performance because she went into the meet heavily loaded after a hard week of training.

Richards had an encouraging start to his indoor season when he sped to a personal indoor best of 45.84 to win the quarter-mile sprint.

The Trinidadian held his form down the home stretch to hold off Vernon Norwood of the USA, who was second in a personal-best 46.06. Khamari Montgomery was third in 46.24.

The women’s event was won by the USA’s Jessica Beard in a season-best 52.88. Kyra Constantine of Canada took the silver with her time of 52.96 while Jamaica’s Roneisha McGregor ran a personal best 53.01 for third.

Jamaica went 1-2 in the women’s 60m hurdles won by Williams, the 2015 world champion, in a season-best 7.83, just holding off her fast-finishing compatriot Britany Anderson, who ran a personal-best 7.88. The USA’s Gabrielle Cunningham clocked 7.92, a season-best, for third

The meet represented an opportunity for 19-year-old Briana Williams to rebound from her disappointing performance over 60m at the recent Millrose Games where she finished fourth in 7.22, beaten by Aleia Hobbs, Mikiah Brisco and 16-year-old high school student Shawnti Jackson, who ran a USA high-school record and personal best 7.18 for third, which was also Williams’ lifetime best.

On Sunday, Williams bounced back in style, uncorking a personal best 7.09 to win her preliminary heat and advance to the finals with the fastest time. It took a world-leading run of 7.07 from Brisco in the final to deny Williams, who ran a smart 7.11 for second place. The USA’s Destiny Smith Barrett clocked a personal best 7.14 for third.

Noah Lyles won the men’s equivalent in a personal best 6.56 ahead of Barbados’s Mario Burke, who crossed the finish line in a season-best 6.63. Travis Collins ran 6.64 for third.

In the men’s 200m, the USA’s Trayvon Bromell pulled out all the stops to hold off Jamaica’s Christopher Taylor and win in 20.64. Taylor stopped the clock in 20.81. The USA’s Elijah Hall was also in the mix, finishing third in 20.82.

 

 

 

 

West Indies Women lost their final ODI by six wickets to South Africa’s Women in Johannesburg on Sunday and with it the series 2-1.

Khadijah Shaw got a belated birthday president on Thursday when she scored in Manchester City Women’s 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur to secure a place in the final of the WSL Continental Cup where they will face champions, Chelsea.

In the semi-final encounter played at the Academy Stadium Jess Park put City up 1-0 in the 21st minute before Shaw doubled the lead in the 27th after she tapped into an empty net after Caroline Weir’s shot took a deflection following a terrific run from Lauren Hemp.

Shaw, who celebrated her 25th birthday on Monday, January 31, actually had a chance to open the scoring when she surged into the box early in the game but she shot past goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer but wide of the far post.

Hemp sealed the victory in the 71st minute to send City into the final set for March 5.

 

Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein and allrounder Jason Holder have achieved career-best rankings in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I Player Rankings after helping the West Indies to a series-deciding 17-run victory in the fifth Betway T20 International against England at Kensington Oval last Sunday.

In the latest weekly update to the men’s rankings, which considers performances in the last three matches of the series, Hosein moved up 15 places to 18th position after a haul of 4-30 that helped him finish with six wickets in three matches.

“It’s not something I pay close attention to. However, when I play or train, it’s always about aiming to become the best,” Hosein said while speaking with CWI Media.

“It’s about having that mindset of wanting to improve and wanting to be at the top, so definitely it is an aspiration of mine to be the number one bowler in the world someday. Therefore, this move means a lot to me. It shows that my hard work is paying off and that I will be rewarded if I perform well. It’s definitely a good feeling.”

Holder was the star performer with the unique feat of grabbing four wickets in four balls in front of his home crowd. He finished with figures of 5-27 – the best in a T20I at the historic venue. This took his tally to nine wickets in those three matches, as he advanced three places to 23rd with a massive gain of 20 rating points. Overall, he took 15 wickets in the five matches, a new record for the most in a bilateral series, and was named the Player-of-the-Series.

Left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell (up 10 places to 31st) is another West Indies bowler to move up in Wednesday’s update while England spinner Moeen Ali (up three places to 32nd) and Liam Livingston (up 33 places to 68th) have also advanced.

In the ranking for batters, Nicholas Pooran is up eight places to 18th after scoring 113 runs in the three matches including a knock of 70, while opener Brandon King (up 25 places to 58th) and West Indies captain Kieron Pollard (up 15 places to 60th) have also advanced. King made a stylish 52 not out in the first match as West Indies won easily, while Pollard had a crucial 41 not out off 25 balls in the final match.

“This definitely means a lot to me, because I put a lot of work into my craft. I work day in and day out, so moving up the rankings is important. The ultimate goal is to be the best. I do pay attention to it (the rankings) because it is a good way to track your growth,” Pooran said.

Rovman Powell made the most of his return to the team with a brilliant 107 in the third matchmaking him the third West Indian to record a century in this format. He followed up with 35 not out off 17 balls in the last game.

Speaking at the end of the enthralling series, West Indies assistant coach Roddy Estwick said the improvement shown was extremely pleasing.

“After the last couple of months that we’ve had, it’s really pleasing that we’ve won a series. Improvement for me is actually more important than winning the series because you’ve got to focus on getting to the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 and doing a lot better than we did in the last one,” he said.

“The crowds coming back to the stadium is very important. The players were a lot freer this time around. The bubble was still there but a lot more relaxed and you could see the players responding to it so credit to the medical staff of the Cricket West Indies.

“Akeal Hosein was really brilliant for us when the chips were down along with Fabian Allen. They turned the tide, put England under pressure, continued to get wickets and that’s all we can ask, that people put their hands up when they need to and lead and fight and battle.”

In her first race since her incredible 2021 season, five-time Olympic gold medalist Elaine Thompson-Herah said she felt really good after winning the 60-metre dash at the Queens/Grace Jackson meet at the Stadium East in Kingston on Saturday.

Running into a stiff headwind of – 1.9m/s, the fastest woman alive clocked 7.19 to win ahead of Remona Burchell, who ran 7.29 and Sprintec teammate Shashalee Forbes 7.37.

“The run felt good. It was my first time in spikes since the start of this season,” Thompson-Herah told Sportsmax.TV.

"Obviously, the -1.9 wind would be a factor in the time (but) the run wasn’t about time. It was just to get a race at the end of a very heavy week, to see how I would feel and I felt great.”

No longer with MVP Track Club and under the guidance of its globally respected head coach Stephen Francis, Thompson-Herah now trains under the watchful eye of her husband Derron Herah and has reportedly set several targets for this season when she will go for her first world title in Eugene, Oregon in July.

On the basis of what she accomplished on Saturday, she is off to a good start

Two Plate competition matches at the ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup have been cancelled after nine Canada players tested positive for COVID-19, organizers revealed today. The players will now undertake a period of isolation where their welfare will be monitored by the event medical team.

As a consequence, the Canadian team has insufficient available players to be able to take any further part in the event. Canada’s plate play-off semi-final with Scotland on 29 January is cancelled and in accordance with the playing conditions, Scotland will progress to the 13th/14th play-off as a result of having a better net run rate than Canada from all matches played in the event.

The 15th/16th play-off that would have featured Canada against either Uganda or PNG will also not take place.

“We are incredibly disappointed to have to cancel two ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup games due to COVID-19 at this stage of the event,” said ICC Head of Events, Chris Tetley.

“We were expecting to see some positive cases throughout the event and to date, these have been managed in accordance with our bio-safety plan without impacting on fixtures. However, with so many players from the Canadian team testing positive it will not be possible to stage these games.

“The players are now self-isolating and will receive full support from the event medical team under the guidance of the Bio-Safety Advisory Group.”

The cancelled matches are as follows:

29 January - Canada v Scotland, Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Trinidad and Tobago

30 January - 15th/16 Play-Off, Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Trinidad and Tobago

The meeting between representatives of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and Cricket West Indies over claims that players in the senior squad are being victimized has been postponed until the end of the ongoing Betway T20 Series against England.

The West Indies lead the series 2-1 with the final two matches scheduled to be played on Saturday and Sunday.

Wayne Lewis, Honorary Secretary at WIPA confirmed to Sportsmax.TV today that WIPA received an email from CWI’s Director of Cricket Jimmy Adams Thursday afternoon informing of the delay to the discussions surrounding the issue that, according to sources, has caused discord within the senior team. He expects the meeting to be held sometime next week.

The matter surfaced earlier this week when allegations were being made that Jamaican all-rounder was being victimized by the team leadership and was eventually dropped for the third match played on Wednesday that the West Indies won by 20 runs. Smith’s replacement Rovman Powell scored his maiden T20 hundred for the West Indies.

Afterwards, Coach Phil Simmons pushed back on assertions that Smith was being victimized. The burly allrounder conceded four runs in the one over he bowled in the second T20 and dropped for the next match. He has also scored useful runs batting at number 10 but according to Phil Simmons, players are selected in the best interest of the team.

“We need to stop this foolishness that we are going on with. We sit here and look at the best team for the day and if Odean was not in the best team for the day it was because we thought Rovman Powell was better suited,” Simmons said afterwards while speaking with the media.

Meanwhile, Cricket West Indies has described the claims as being unsubstantiated and mischievous as it moved to head off any fallout.

In a statement released late Thursday, CWI said it was aware that “voice notes were circulated on social media, and in sections of the regional broadcast media, suggesting that there is a rift within the West Indies Senior Men’s team.

“Contrary to the unsubstantiated statements, containing unfounded and mischievous allegations, CWI is satisfied that there is no discord between the team captain and any member of the West Indies team.”

CWI President Ricky Skerritt indicated that the rumours represent an unwarranted attack on Captain Kieron Pollard.

“I view this as a malicious attack on the credibility of the West Indies captain, designed to sow division within our team that has just recorded three very impressive T20I performances against very strong opponents, including two outstanding wins and one heroic comeback to get within one run of victory,” Skerritt said.

“This clear attempt by well-known mischief makers to discredit the captain and to derail the team’s momentum in the ongoing Betway T20I Series should not be tolerated or encouraged.”

 

When you’ve been in broadcasting as long as Lance Whittaker has, nothing much comes as a surprise. Over a career that has spanned more than three decades, the Sportsmax Zone anchor has pretty much been there and done that.

Well, that was until last week, Friday, January 21, when he was presented with the prestigious RJRGleaner Foundation’s Chairman’s Award for 35 years of excellence in broadcasting at the local, regional and international levels.

“Complete shock! Was not expecting this at all,” remarked the unassuming but highly respected broadcaster, who for the last 12 years has been a Vice-President/Executive Producer at SportsMax Ltd, the Caribbean’s first all-sports cable channel.

“Remember, no media practitioner had ever won this award before so I was not even considering that I was a candidate. More than a week later, after being notified, I am still actually trying to assess how I feel. Immense pride, for sure, and really honoured that the RJRGleaner Sports Foundation has considered my body of work worthy. It means a lot to me and I feel the decades of hard work is appreciated.”

Those decades of hard work began back in June 1984 at Radio Jamaica where Whittaker spent the first 11 years of his superlative career. He started out reading the mid-day sports reports and subsequently hosted Sports Call on Wednesday nights.

Lance eventually rose through the ranks to be Assistant Programme Director – Sports. He had also begun to establish himself as a world-class commentator covering Pan Am Games in 1987 and 1991, the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and the 1994 Commonwealth Games.

By 1995, he was ready to move on to greater challenges.

“I took a job offer at the Caribbean News Agency in (CANA) in March 1995 as CANA Sports Coordinator in Barbados where I established a daily radio sportscast and supervised the sports output in the CANA Wire Service which was the regional affiliate of Reuters International News Agency, transmitting hundreds of Caribbean sports stories monthly, covering the entire region – from Bermuda in the north through to Guyana in the south,” he said with pride.

“Our radio coverage output during this period also included the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and several CARIFTA Games. CANA also established CricketPlus, CANA’s high-quality radio coverage of international cricket led by esteemed commentators Fazeer Mohammed, Andrew Mason, Simon Crosskill and Reds Pereira.”

CANA and the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) eventually merged in 2000 to become the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) for which Whittaker was Director of Sports until his resignation in March 2010.

“At CMC, I continued to lead our wire service output and television was added to my portfolio, as we established a daily television news,” he recalled.

“I presented our 15-minute sports news Monday to Friday evenings after our team sourced stories from our partners throughout the day. During that period, I also added three more Olympics to my log – Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.”

At SportsMax, he was mandated to improve the company’s standing as a regional and international television sports broadcaster and in July 2011, a SportsMax dream was realized, the first ever daily sports talk show in Caribbean television.

“I was lead presenter in the early years of SportsMax Zone and I am still on the show daily. We have tried to fashion the show – through the news stories and discussion topics – to ensure engaging topics for the viewers,” he said.

“Major coverage events for me so far at SportsMax include the 2012 London Olympics and Tokyo 2020 Olympics. In recent years, I have also been a part of increased live coverage of events on SportsMax, including local premier league, school sports and various international events.”

His body of work speaks for itself and is the result of years of hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence, the hallmarks of Whittaker’s sterling career.

“I am not sure if there is a secret to maintaining a high standard for a long time. It boils down to really hard work and dedication,” he said.

“Punctuality, preparedness and being thorough have always been watchwords for me in this job and in the media, these are critical to success. Also, my school motto at Wolmer’s ‘Age Quod Agis’ is, 'Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability.

“I love what I do. I have been playing sports competitively and loving sports from before my teenage years and a lot of what I do on the job hardly feels like work. I fell in love with radio as a teenager and though I did not realize it then, it clearly triggered my passion for a career in broadcast media.”

Of course, with so many events covered, it might be surprising to hear that there isn’t any one thing that comes first to mind as most memorable; perhaps because there have been so many.

“There are so many memorable moments and some may find it surprising that my first interactions with broadcasters, who I found massively inspirational, would be very high on that list,” he said.

“I cannot explain in words how moved and star-struck I felt the first time I met Chris Armond, whose horse racing commentaries I would have studied and impersonated as a teenager at Wolmer’s, much to my mother’s consternation because she was sure I took horse racing commentary more seriously than my school work!

“Also, the first time I interviewed the great Tony Cozier live in the RJR studio on Sports Call. Another ‘star-struck’ moment. I was completely in awe of this cricket commentator, revered globally and to me the world’s best, and I swear, I was so nervous I struggled to conduct a proper interview.

“Those aside, I would list getting a signed picture and letter from sprint great Merlene Ottey thanking me for what she thought was my “classic” commentary of her 1993 IAAF World Championship 200-metre gold medal run in Stuttgart, her first global title after 13 years of trying; Usain Bolt’s stunning 9.69 world record 100-metre win at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and my commentary as he approached the finish, arms outstretched and celebrating, that “Usain Bolt makes it look easy” was not what I wanted to say, I stayed focused on my verbal delivery but trust me, the words in my mind were not fit for airplay! Not sure what would rank as a crowning moment but this Chairman’s Award certainly hit a spot. Never expected this at all.”

So what does one do for an encore after 35 years of excellence?

“Not much of a planner, so I am not sure,” he said.

“I will be 60 years old in September and taking things day by day. Getting some pressure/encouragement from some quarters to write a book on my adventures in almost 38 years of broadcasting and I am still trying to wrap my brain around that.”

Rovman Powell scored a magnificent 100 as the West Indies amassed 224-5 in the third T20 International in the Betway Series against England at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Wednesday evening.

Powell scored 107 from just 53 with four fours and 10 sixes as he became only the third West Indian batsman behind Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis to score a hundred in a T20 International. His 50 came up off just 31 balls as he dominated England’s bowlers.

Coming to the crease with the West Indies 48-2 after the home side lost the wickets of Brandon King for 10 and Shai Hope for four, Powell and Nicholas Pooran put on a West Indies record 122 runs for the third wicket.

Pooran was also in belligerent form scoring 70 from 43 balls with four fours and five sixes as quickly as he scored, Powell was quicker.

The 100-run partnership came up in just 56 balls with Powell getting 71 of them. The Jamaican’s 100 came up off 51 balls and became only the third West Indies batsman to score a century in a T20 International. Only Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis have achieved that prior to Powell’s innings.

He hit a six off the 52 bowled by Reece Topley but was out next ball going for another big hit.

Fabian Allen was out first ball of the 20th over bowled by Tymal Mills but Captain Kieron Pollard, who made nine from four balls and Romario Shepherd 11 from five took the West Indies to their highest ever T20 score against England.

Experienced fast bowler Kemar Roach, Nkrumah Bonner and Brandon King have been included in a West Indies squad named for their white-ball tour of India next month.

A century from Matthew Nandu and half-centuries from Shaqkere Parris and Kevin Wickham led West Indies U19s to a comprehensive victory of 169 runs over Papua New Guinea in the Plate Quarter-Final Round of the tournament of the ICC U19 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday.

Nandu scored 128 as the West Indies made 317-6, their highest score of the tournament.

The 18-year-old Guyanese faced 134 balls and hit 15 fours and two sixes in his match-winning knock. He shared in an opening stand of 155 with Parris before the latter was dismissed by Rasan Kevau for 64 from 89 balls with eight fours and two sixes.

Teddy Bishop and Nandu took the score to 191 when Bishop was bowled by Patrick Nou for 15.

Wickham joined Nandu at the crease and together mounted a third-wicket stand of 107 that took the West Indies to 298 when the Caribbean youngsters suffered a late middle-order collapse.

The drama unfolded in the 49th over when Boio Ray removed Nandu with the second ball, Rivaldo Clarke first ball and then with the fifth ball of the over dismissed Jordan Johnson, who also failed to score.

It was left to Wickham, who remained unbeaten on 61, to take the West Indies past 300.

Ray finished with figures of 3-43 and was PNG’s best bowler.

Needing 318 for an unlikely victory, PNG were bowled out for 148 in 37.4 overs. Aue Oru top-scored with an unbeaten 27 while Peter Karoho contributed 21. Barnabas Maha made 15 as Nandu took 2-14, McKenny Clarke 2-34 and Isai Thorne (2-30) combined to destroy the PNG batting.

A strong all-around performance from Andre Russell helped Minister Group Dhaka to their first win in the Bangladesh Premier League on Monday when they defeated Fortune Barishul by four wickets at Mirpur.

Reggae Boyz head coach Paul Hall has named an experienced squad for his squad for the next three FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica, respectively.

Hall, who replaced Theodore Whitmore on an interim basis, after the latter was relieved of his duties late last year, did not see it fit to select any outfield players currently participating in the Jamaica Premier League. Leon Bailey misses out once again as he is not fully recovered from a thigh injury that has seen him miss 11 of Aston Villa's Premier League matches this season. Shamar Nicholson declined his invitation claiming he wants to spend the time settling into his new club Spartak Moscow.

However, Hall is not short of striking options as he has called up West Ham’s Michail Antonio, Queens Park Rangers’ Andre Gray, Philadelphia Union’s Cory Burke, FC Toulouse’s Junior Flemmings, Fulham’s Bobby Reid, and Santos de Guapiles’ Javon East.

In midfield, Miami FC’s Devon Williams and Lamar Walker, Blackpool FC’s Kevin Stewart, Derby County’s Ravel Morrison, Hartford Athletic’s Peter-Lee Vassell and Preston North End’s Daniel Johnson got the nod for the crucial matches.

In defence, Hall will choose from the likes of Reading FC’s Liam Moore, Macarthur FC’s Adian Mariappa, recent Inter Miami signee Damion Lowe, Toronto FC’s Kemar Lawrence, Morecambe FC’s Gregory Leigh, Vancouver Whitecap’s Javain Brown and FC Cincinnati’s Alvas Powell.

Andre Blake of Philadelphia Union, Dwayne Miller of Eskilstuna City and Amal Knight of Harbour View FC make up the goalkeeper pool.

Jamaica will open the coming window against Mexico at the National Stadium in Kingston on January 27 before travelling to Panama for their next match on January 30. The penultimate round of qualifiers concludes with Jamaica hosting Costa Rica at the National Stadium on February 2.

World U20 sprint hurdles champion, Ackera Nugent, was in record-breaking form on Saturday’s second day of the Larry Wieczorek Invitational at the Recreation Building in Iowa City, Iowa.

Nugent, 19, set a new meet record of 8.11 for the 60m hurdles in the preliminary round and smashed it in the final, running a personal best of 7.90. The winning time was also a new track record, facility record and meet record.

The time moves Nugent to the 11th spot all-time in collegiate indoor track competition and the best-ever U20 time. Her teammate, Kennedy Bailey finished in second place with a time of 8.3 seconds.

For her efforts, Nugent was one of four MVPs at the meet alongside teammates Johnny Brackins who won the triple jump and Tuesdi Tidwell, who triumphed in the pole vault.

Meanwhile, Nugent’s compatriot Kavia Francis and teammates Mariah Ayers, Aaliyah Miller and Gontse Morake finished with a silver medal and a time of 3:40.87 in the 4x400m relay.

When 13-year-old American prodigy D’Asia Duncan steps onto the track at the Gamecock Indoor Challenge in South Carolina on Saturday, her Jamaican coach Xavier Brown is expecting to see further signs of improvement from the youngster, who hopes one day to be like her heroine Allyson Felix.

Brown, 38, has been coaching the teen since the summer of 2020 after the Geneva Christian School eighth-grader moved from Connecticut to Orlando, Florida, to maximize athletic and academic opportunities.

It was at a meet in Orlando where she first met Brown, who appeared ‘out of the blue’ but who would subsequently relieve her mother, Marilyn, of the responsibilities of coaching the young multi-sport athlete.  A straight-A student-athlete, D’Asia is also a three-time national record holder, having established age-group records in the 60m hurdles, 100m hurdles and the pentathlon. She is also a 14-time national champion and 28-time All American.

When Brown took over coaching duties in 2020, D’Asia had personal bests of 14.72 in the 100m hurdles, 17’ eight and a quarter inches in the long jump and five feet in the high jump. She has since run 14.42, jumped 18 feet, three and a quarter inches and five feet one inch in the high jump.

She has also shaved fractions off her 800m time which she has lowered from 2:24 to 2:22 and she opened her season with a 9.18 clocking over 60m hurdles after not competing indoors for several years.

Brown expects to see improvements across the board on Saturday.

“Indoors is something she hasn’t done in years so coming back, so I am looking for bigger performances this time. The 400m that we are doing is trying to get her stronger to do a 200 and a better 100. So we are trying to get her stronger, faster,” he said.

“So we are looking for good things from her tomorrow running the hurdles, the 400m and also jumping a longer distance.”

In Jamaica, Brown was not as heralded a coach as Glen Mills, who coached him to CAC 200m gold in 2006, Stephen Francis or Maurice Wilson, but before he migrated to the United States a few years ago, he had steadily built a reputation as a respected track and field coach, commanding the respect of his peers and athletes along the way.

He got his breakthrough working with sprint hurdler Shermaine Williams, who was then being coached by Lennox Graham. Graham, now an Assistant Coach at Clemson University, coached at Kingston College in the early 2000s before migrating to the United States to transform the track and field programme at Johnson C. Smith University where he guided Williams’ sister, Danielle, to multiple NCAA Division II titles and eventually to the 100m hurdles gold medal at the 2015 World Championships in Helsinki.

Back in 2011, while working as an assistant to Coach Maurice Wilson at the GC Foster College, Brown got the opportunity to coach a couple of Australian sprinters to personal best performances during a successful exchange programme. Since then he has coached at Camperdown High School, Calabar High School, Clarendon College and St Jago High School.

Given his experience and an eye for identifying emerging talent, shortly after migrating to the United States, Brown quickly saw in D’Asia, something special.

“The first time we met in person was at a track meet in Orlando, she was doing the high jump,” Brown recalled.

“D’Asia has a lot of potential. She is a natural talent and with the guidance of her mom and me she will have a lot to offer to the sport in the future.”

However, it was a chance interaction over social media that Brown got in touch with Marilyn, who was then coaching her daughter to one day realise her dreams of becoming a professional and ultimately an Olympian.

“Xavier had been keeping up with D’Asia on social media and would give some feedback via inbox which I would read, respond to and take into consideration because he was truly on point with his observations,” Marilyn recalled.

“He came from Jamaica to Orlando around the time she was preparing for Regionals and advised us that he would like to come to see her compete. Ironically, that weekend we were competing next to him, so we invited him over. He was on time, attentive and I quickly noticed he had an eye for all the areas that needed improvement.

“He helped her become a four-time regional Orlando champion with 100m hurdles, 200m hurdles, high jump and long jump.

“It was at that point we considered having him join our team to alleviate me from coaching and so I can focus on the parenting aspect of it. We extended the offer, he accepted and had immediately has been present, dedicated, patient, cautious and offered lots of knowledge in a variety of areas.”

For D’Asia, Brown becoming her coach was also a bit of a surprise.

“My mom said I had a supporter from a different country coming to my meet in Orlando for regionals and when I met him, he helped me a lot and I did good. Then another day my mom told me that she wanted to have him work with me longer because he knew a lot and could help us, plus it would help her and let her focus on things at home and just being a mom,” D’Asia recalled.

Notwithstanding the circumstances, the pair hit it off immediately.

“My mom was coaching me because we were new to Florida and it worked better to be an unattached athlete, but she really wanted to find me a good coach that was smart and had the experience to help me with different stages of life and track,” she said.

“I remember us talking about how he just showed up and helped us and was so nice. We went on the internet and social media and was like ‘oh wow, he was here and did this and that, so yeah, we prayed, and she picked him for long term coaching and he’s been a good fit ever since.

“He’s a good coach and he definitely knows what he’s talking about. He works me hard but not too hard.”

According to Marilyn, Brown has also exhibited the kind of exemplary qualities that makes him so much more than she could have ever imagined. More than just his coaching acumen, she found Brown to be of sound character as well.

“I knew Xavier was an adequate fit because despite having his own stripes of being an outstanding sprinter, a credible coach with an impressive resume, travelling and coaching around the world as well as training alongside some other outstanding Jamaican athletes, he was humble,” she said.

“Xavier came to us simply wanting to help. Generally, I would be reluctant because he came out of nowhere, but I remember praying for someone with good intentions, no ulterior motives and knowledge to come our way and then he popped up. It was one of those things where you just know. He wasn’t boastful, or egotistical trying to convince us of his importance. In fact, I only found out who he was after doing extensive research on him before asking him to join D’Asia’s team.

“He didn’t speak much, but when he did it was lots of knowledge and powerful.  I truly liked how careful he was with making sure we properly nurture D’Asia - not rushing the process in any way - amongst sharing reasonable and good goals and how to go about them in the future.”

Marilyn believes Brown is just what she and D’Asia needed at this stage of the latter’s budding career.

“So far, I mean he really puts good workouts together that cover many areas, which is hard to do as she is multi-eventer, hurdler, jumper,” she said.

“He makes sure the rest and recovery are there, he puts great stretches and drills together that are not only beneficial now, but for the future, keeps her mind strong and attention on her.

“Xavier truly thinks long term when it comes to her mental, spiritual, emotional and physical well-being which I know will prove to work out. In the time we’ve worked with him, he helped bring her to be a two-time National Junior Olympic winner and so far, she is right where we trained her to be for the early season.”

Meantime, D’Asia, who plans on one day becoming an Orthopedic surgeon and businesswoman, is focused on what is immediately before her, dominating her environment.

“D’Asia’s short term goals are to keep properly balancing and excelling with academics, athletics as well as her personal life. Within track and field, she hopes to keep dominating on a youth/high school level, defending national titles and hoping to break more school, meet, national or even world records all while having fun, staying mentally strong and injury-free,” said Marilyn.

“(Her) medium-term goals are to keep properly balancing while excelling in all areas of her life. She hopes to attend a prestigious college that will help her get closer to her long-term athletic goals and overall career.”

For Brown, the task, for now, is simple.

“My short-term goal for D’Asia is to get her stronger and faster and also mentally prepared for what is to come, day by day.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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