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.

Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), operators of Caymanas Park, is in mourning at the passing of industry stalwart Christopher Armond. The iconic former commentator turned administrator died on Wednesday after a short illness at the age of 67.

SVREL Chairman Solomon Sharpe was naturally saddened by the passing of the man whom he considered a dear friend.

 “I have many fond memories of working with Chris from the early days and was always impressed by his vast knowledge,” Sharpe said.

“He has done so much for Caymanas Park and the horseracing industry in general. I offer my condolences to his family and friends. He will be greatly missed.”  

Armond, who was the Director of Racing at Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) enjoyed an illustrious career spanning more than 40 years and was held as the standard for horse race commentary throughout the region.

In 1984, he was awarded the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) Golden Microphone Award for his commentary. Armond also commentated in Detroit, Michigan and served as an administrator in Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados.

“For many Jamaicans, Armond is the voice of horseracing,” SVREL said in a statement Wednesday.

“From 1975 to 1985, Chris Armond established a new level of excitement and accuracy in race commentary with his distinguished vocal delivery. He provided colourful commentary in his distinctive voice, bringing horseracing into homes across the island.

“Even today, he remains the gold standard of commentating in the industry, not just locally but also for fans overseas.”

In addition to Armond’s iconic commentary, he also served as an administrator in the industry for many years and was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Thoroughbred Racing in June 2017 under the category of “Other Racing Personalities”.

It was seemingly natural for Christopher Joseph Armond to have a professional life as part of the racing industry. His father, Joseph, a Hall of Fame inductee, was co-managing director of Caymanas Park Limited, and his grandfather Altamont was the founder of the promoting company, Jamaica Turf Club. Armond carried on this family legacy and served as Director of Racing until his retirement on Sunday, December 27, 2020.

“Armond has left an indelible legacy in the sport of horseracing. His accomplishments are insurmountable and his contribution to the sport will never be diminished,” SVREL’s statement said.

“Our thoughts are with his family and dear friends during this difficult time.”

Jimmy Adams, Director of Cricket at Cricket West Indies does not believe regional players are taking advantage of the governing body to secure T20 contracts in the more lucrative T20 leagues around the world.

During a press conference on Monday with Lead Selector Desmond Haynes, Adams, who was also present, was asked whether this was the case in the wake of the recent development wherein Shimron Hetmyer took time off from the IPL to attend the birth of his child in Guyana, promising to return to complete the season, but using the same reason, has declared himself unavailable for the West Indies white-ball tours of The Netherlands and Pakistan that start later this month.

There have also been instances in the past where players have declined invitations to represent the West Indies choosing instead to play franchise cricket.

“You will have players who will opt not to take contracts because they want the freedom to go and play whenever and wherever. While I respect that, by the same token I think we kind of understand where those players’ priorities lie. There could be a few others like that around. We live with them and we move on if we have to,” Adams said.

“I don’t think that is a majority, I don’t think it impacts us in a negative sense, per se. We have had many players in the last few years who have played, who are not contracted players - your Chris Gayles, your Andre Russells.

“Yes, it needs managing for sure at both the international and the levels within the regions around the world. I think given where we are now in world cricket, and I believe where we are now in West Indies cricket, that we are doing a pretty good job of it.”

That said, Adams does concede that in regions like the West Indies where player contracts pale in comparison to those offered by the wealthy owners of IPL franchises, there is little that can be done.

“T20 cricket and the leagues are here to stay. I don’t necessarily think that they are a bad thing. At the end of the day what players have nowadays that they did not have in my time and Sir Desmond’s time was choice and I don’t think choice is a bad thing.

“We try to ensure we don’t have any overlaps with either IPL or CPL, so all our contracted players know that there is a minimum of two windows where they will not have any competing international cricket. As it stands now it is not something that sees us losing control.”

 

Jamaican Olympian Christania Williams is making a comeback from some tough times with the hopes of getting back to her best in the near future.

The 27-year-old former Edwin Allen High School star last showed up last weekend, May 7, 2022, at the JAAA/SDF Jubilee Series meet at the National Stadium in Kingston where she produced times of 11.62 to finish third in her preliminary round heat and then ran a season-best 11.55 in the final for a sixth-place finish behind winner Shericka Jackson (11.00).

She revealed afterwards that after enduring a rough period, she is hoping to improve with each race she runs this season.

“I have been through a lot. I am happy to be here. The main focus right now is just me against me and improving in each race,” said Williams afterwards while also revealing that she is no longer a member of the Tumbleweed training group in Jacksonville, but was training elsewhere in Florida.

She declined to reveal where or with whom.

“I am not training on my own but for now I am not sharing that information,” she said.

The talented sprinter won silver medals for Jamaica in the 100m and 4x100m relay at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast and also won a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as a member of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay squad.

She ran a lifetime best of 10.96 in the 100m semi-finals in Brazil and finished eighth in the final won by Elaine Thompson-Herah. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was third.

At the time she was a member of the MVP Track Club in Kingston but she eventually left for the Rana-Reider led Tumbleweed Training Group in Jacksonville, Florida in early 2020, just before the world shut down in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Like most of the world’s athletes, Williams did not compete in 2020. In 2021, she ventured into a few indoor meets and had a season-best 7.14 in Fayetteville in February. Another four races followed outdoors, the last of them occurring on May 31 when she ran 11.38 at the Duvall County Challenge in Jacksonville.

April 23, 2022, almost a year later was the next time she raced; at the Tru Fit Athletic Sprint Series in Miami, Florida where she ran 11.54 for a fourth-place finish in her heat and then 11.79 for seventh in the final.

 

Toyko Olympics triple gold medallist Elaine Thompson-Herah said her 22.75 200m run at the JAAA/SDF Jubilee meet on Saturday was about shaking the rust off as she continues on her quest to win her first gold medal at the World Championships in Oregon this summer.

Now that he has finally been able to train consistently after two years of disruption caused by the global pandemic, Traves Smikle produced his best throw in three years to achieve the qualifying mark for this summer’s World Athletics Championships at the second JAAA/SDF Jubilee Series meet at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday.

Smikle, the 2018 NACAC silver medallist, threw a season-best 66.60m for the victory, his best throw since he threw 67.57m in January 2019. It was the perfect birthday present for Smikle, who revealed afterwards that it was a welcome reprieve from a tough past couple of years.

“The last two years have been crazy with the pandemic and everything. It was very difficult to get into a training flow and now that things are better, not perfect but better, my coach and I got some consistent work in,” said Smikle, who won JMD$90,000 for the win.

“For the season I have been averaging 64/65m. We have been knocking at the door and we finally got it (the qualifying mark) today on my birthday and I am happy about that.”

Noticeably bigger than he has been in previous years, Smikle revealed that his increase in size is also part of his coach Julian Robinson’s plan for him to throw farther this year.

“One of the things my coach wanted me to do is put on a little more weight and we are doing some explosive work, trying to keep consistent with training and today we saw the fruits of our labour,” he said.

Smikle’s throw makes him Jamaica’s best thrower this year ahead of his training partner and friend, Fedrick Dacres, the 2018 Commonwealth Games champion and 2019 World Championships silver medallist and, at least for now, gives him bragging rights in the Reckless Control training group.

Dacres, he said, is sure to use it as motivation to throw beyond the 65.98m he threw at the same venue just over a week ago, the next time he competes.

“Fedrick is a phenomenal athlete and we have been training hard, he has been working hard and we are on track. It is only a matter of time before he hits a big throw,” Smikle said of Dacres.

“Both of us have been averaging over 65m and we just want to work hard and respect each other. I am pretty sure he has seen this mark and it is going fire him up to get something big so the next time we compete, it’s going to be a good one.”

Michelle Lee Ahye ran a season-best 10.94 to win the 100m at the American Track League Orange County Classic in California on Saturday.

Jamaica’s beach volleyball teams are set to participate in the 2022 North, Central America and Caribbean Confederation (NORCECA) Beach Volleyball Tour this year thanks to the timely intervention of the Jamaica Olympic Association that has provided the necessary funding to the Jamaica Volleyball Association (JaVA).

The 2024 Olympic cycle began in 2020, and without being able to compete for the last two years, Jamaica’s teams are forced to play catch up as other countries in the region were able to continue to train, compete and improve their rankings.

The lack of funding has also presented challenges as the JaVA was only able to send their Men’s team to the tour that is currently being held in Varadero, Cuba, and only the Women will be able to compete in the tour to be held in La Paz, Mexico from May 13-16, 2022.

However, thanks to the JOA, the JaVA will now be able to compete in the 2022 NORCECA Beach Volleyball Tours, which is used to earn points and improve rankings in order to qualify for the Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games and the Olympics.

With the support of the JOA, Jamaica will be sending both Men and Women's Beach Volleyball Teams on the following tours:

July 28 – July 31 – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

August 4- August 8 - Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

August 25 – August 29 – Canada

September 29 – October 3 – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

November 3 – November 7 – Hato Mayer, Dominican Republic

Audley Weir, General Secretary of JaVA, in thanking the JOA said “due to the financial support from the JOA, Jamaica is poised to qualify for major tournaments, as the lack of funding and not being able to participate in competitions in the past, has seen our teams narrowly missing out on qualifying for both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games,” he said.

A change of environment in the offseason seems to be paying off for Natalliah Whyte, Jamaica’s 2019 World Championships gold medallist, who last weekend ran a brand new lifetime best in the 100m, which signalled that good things could be in store for the remainder of the season.

In 2019, Whyte who was then training at MVP International in Florida ran a blistering lead-off leg before handing off to 100m gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as Jamaica sped to a gold medal in the 4x100m relay at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Notwithstanding the intervening ‘pandemic year’, 2020, when Covid-19 shut the world down; her confidence boosted by the gold-medal performance in Doha, Whyte began 2021 in fine form running a lifetime best of 11.04 at the Pure Athletics Sprint Elite Meet in Miramar, Florida on May 2. However, for reasons that she is yet to comprehend, Whyte failed to make Jamaica's team to the Tokyo Olympic Games after finishing seventh in the 100m semi-finals at the National Championships last June in a disappointing 11.52.

“I don’t know what happened to be honest. I started the season well but didn’t progress,” she said while revealing that the disappointment of not making the team to Tokyo was hard to take.

“I took not making the team really hard but sometimes we rise, sometimes we fall but you have to know how to turn negatives into positives.”

During the season break, Whyte took the decision to leave the MVP International training group for the Rana Reider-led Tumbleweed group in Jacksonville, hoping that a change of environment might bring about the change she needed.

“I eventually started to take the positives from last season and knew that eventually, I had to leave the past in the past because it already happened and there was nothing I could do but work on the future. So this is a new chapter and I am just trying to work even harder, stay healthy and apply what I’m learning,” she said.

So far, it seems to be working well.

On April 30, in her first 100m of the season at the UNF Invitational in Jacksonville, she ran a lifetime best of 10.97 to follow up on the 22.57 she ran over 200m two weeks before at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational in Gainesville.

“I’m really happy with the results as much as you would imagine,” she told Sportsmax.TV afterwards. “I just want to stay patient, continue to work on the many things I can improve on and see what else God has in store for me.”

She does admit, however, that despite the early success, making the move to Tumbleweed to work with Reider was not an easy decision but she believes it was the correct one.

“I have to say making changes is hard but sometimes changes can be good,” she said.

“I have been working on a lot of things and also learning a lot of new things so hopefully putting the new knowledge together will help me reach the goals I have made for myself for this season.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the only race she has planned for the month of May, Olympic gold medallist Briana Williams ran a season-best 11.03 while finishing second in the 100m at the Pure Athletics Global Invitational in Clermont, Florida.

In what was her first race since suffered a tight hamstring at the USATF Golden Games in Walnut, California on April 16, Williams advanced to the final after winning her preliminary round heat in a wind-assisted 10.96 (5.3m/s).

In the final, she locked strides with Tanisha Terry until late in the race when the American pulled away to win in 10.94.

Maia McCoy was the best of the rest, running 11.20 for third.

Williams, 20, races next in the 100m on June 12 at the USATF Grand Prix in New York before she travels to Jamaica for the National Senior Championships scheduled for June 23-26.

Former Hydel High star sprinter Ashanti Moore, meanwhile, ran out a comfortable winner in the 200m. The powerful sprinter, who now trains at Pure Athletics alongside some of the world’s best sprinters including the 2019 World 200m champion, Noah Lyles, clocked a nippy 23.02 easily defeating Lily Kaden (23.21) and Camile Laus (23.63).

Lyles was equally dominant in the men’s 200m which he won in 19.86 over Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards (20.06) and his brother Josephus Lyles, who ran 20.20, his fastest-ever season opener.

Kimberly Williams jumped a wind-assisted 13.93m to win the triple jump by one centimetre over Naomi Metzer (13.92m). Sineade Gutzmore jumped 13.22m for third.

 

 

Citing the presence of the BVI Olympic Committee and financial support from a shoe sponsor in PUMA, Steve Augustine, President of the British Virgin Island Athletics Association (BVIAA) is not overly concerned about the possibility of athletes from his country switching allegiance to represent the United Kingdom in international competition.

Augustine was speaking recently on the online Talk Sports show with Michael Bascombe in the wake of the success the BVI enjoyed at the recent 49th edition of the Carifta Games held at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

At the Games held from April 16-18, the BVI won four gold medals, two silver and a bronze for one of their best-ever medal hauls. Three of those gold medals were won by the imperious 16-year-old Adaejah Hodge, who was voted the winner of the coveted Austin Sealy Award.

But as is the case with many small island nations, there have been occasions when athletes choose to transfer allegiance to other countries in search of greater stability and support. In the recent past, Olympian Miguel Francis, who was born in Montserrat and resided in Antigua, chose to represent the United Kingdom in international competition.

Augustine said while the issue has surfaced in recent conversations with colleagues, he is not overly concerned.

“It’s something that we have spoken about at a high level, at the association level but we have never had to face that battle,” said Augustine, whose islands boast two of the best athletes in the world – Kyron McMaster and Chantal Malone – in the 400m hurdles and long jump respectively and who still represent the BVI in international competition.

“One of the good things about the BVI is that we have an Olympic Committee existing on the island, the BVI Olympic Committee. There are other territories that are under the umbrella of the United Kingdom that do not and for them, that becomes the obvious option to perhaps leave their home countries and compete for the United Kingdom.

“It’s not something that we have paid much attention to. It is indeed an option of athlete wants to do that, there is a process through World Athletics, you can’t just jump up and compete for the UK tomorrow, there is a process.”

That said, Augustine believes the BVIAA treats its athletes well which in all likelihood makes them want to remain at home.

“We were super happy a few years to be sponsored by PUMA, so our athletes are well geared. They look really nice in their uniforms. Those simple things that probably would have been problematic for us in previous years, are no longer an issue, so the little things that we do do, our athletes are appreciative.

“There is a whole lot more than we can do. Perhaps there is a benefit if they were to compete for the United Kingdom but there is no better place to be a king than at home.”

 

 

 

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have a series of international friendlies scheduled over the next six weeks as the Jamaica Football Federation looks to get the national senior side back on track after a disastrous failed World Cup campaign.

Two international friendlies are to be played in Spain against Catalonia on May 25 and the Basque Country on May 27, respectively.

According to the JFF, these matches will offer opportunities to look at new players, mainly from Europe. These new players, depending on the assessment of the technical staff, could play a role in the short, medium or long term plans.

 Crucial Nations League games against Suriname away on June 4, and then home on June 7, along with a June 14 home game against Mexico will be aimed at maximizing points for the 2023 Gold Cup qualification while the team continues to develop a style of play, improve its FIFA ranking as well as building team chemistry and a winning mentality.

An international friendly against Uruguay is set for June 11.

Olympic champion Hansle Parchment has two wins from two starts so far this season after he strode to victory in the 110m hurdles at the 2022 Drake Relays at the Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday.

Running into a stiff headwind of -2.5m/s, 31-year-old Tokyo Olympic gold medallist, clocked 13.47 to follow up on his victory at Velocity Fest 11 at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday, April 23. Then he ran a fast 13.20, a time that was the world lead for a few hours before the USA’s Devon Allen ran 13.12 in Annapolis.

On Saturday, Parchment who had his first injury-free season in a number of years proved unbeatable in his first race in Des Moines since 2016, holding off the challenge of Jamal Britt, who clocked 13.53 for second place and Barbadian Shane Braithwaite, who was third in 13.69.

In the long jump, the USA’s Kenturah Orji jumped 6.69m to defeat her friend and former roommate Chanice Porter of Jamaica. Porter unleashed a jump of 6.59m to take silver by one centimetre ahead of Ese Brume (6.58m).

Former Hydel and Kansas State high jumper Kimberly Williamson cleared 1.85m for third place in the high jump won by Vashti Cunningham, who soared over 1.90m for victory. Rachel McCoy was second by virtue of a cleaner record on the day having also bowed out at 1.85m.

 

Trinidadian Olympian Tyra Gittens was a winner in the high jump at the LSU Invitational where some Caribbean athletes had podium finishes on Saturday.

Lamara Distin literally continues to soar to new heights each week.

Omar McLeod and Natoya Goule claimed runner-up spots in their respective events as the 2022 Penn Relays came to a conclusion in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia on Saturday.

McLeod, the 2016 Olympic champion, who missed out on a place in the Tokyo Olympics in Japan last year, ran a season-best 13.22 for second place in the Olympic Development Men’s 110m hurdles that was won by the USA’s Devon Allen.

 The American, who ran a world-leading 13.12 in Annapolis a week ago, clocked 13.11 for a commanding victory in what will be his final full season in track and field. Allen, the 2021 Diamond League champion has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in the National Football League (NFL).

Jaylan McConico was a distant third in 13.70.

In the College Men’s 110m hurdles, Phillip Lemonious claimed victory in 13.48. The Jamaican who attends the University of Arkansas was a comfortable winner over Jaheem Hayes (13.57) of Syracuse and Clemson’s Devon Brooks (13.62)

Goule, a finalist in the 800m at the Tokyo Olympics, ran a fast 1:24.09 in the Olympic Development Women’s 600m Elite event but was no match for the Olympic champion Athing Mu of the United States who was a runaway winner in 1:22.74, the fourth-fastest time ever run over the distance.

Nia Atkins of the USA took the final podium spot in 1:25.14.

Jamaica’s Rajay Hamilton lost out in a close battle with Ghana’s Alex Amankwah in the men’s 600m, clocking 1:16.00 to the Ghanian’s 1:15.88. Kameron Jones was third in 1:16.47.

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