Jamaica's sports minister greets country's returning Olympians with promise of greater assistance

By Sports Desk August 11, 2021

The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange has said that every arriving athlete from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be greeted by her on arrival.

“They will all get the same treatment, not just the medalists,” Minister Grange said as she welcomed home Candice McLeod, Demish Gaye, Sean Bailey and Tovea Jenkins earlier this week. She also welcomed back President of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) Christopher Samuda, Head Coach Maurice Wilson and several other coaches and team manager Ludlow Watts.

In welcoming home the contingent, the Minister promised that greater assistance for the country’s athletes was in the pipeline.

“The Government realizes that it is not easy for all the athletes. Some of them come from really humble backgrounds and challenging situations,” she said of the team that won nine medals at the Tokyo 2020 Games, including four gold medals, one silver and four bronze medals.

“I am repeating this, do not to hesitate in letting me know what help you need. I may not be able to do all but I will certainly help as much as I can. I am here for you, whatever the ups and downs, we will face them together going forward. I am saying to the JOA here today that we must work together as a family.”

Minister Grange emphasized that whatever the differences that exist among organizations in the sector, “It is important that we come together from now because over the next three years we will be faced with major international meets, the World Games in Eugene, Oregon in the United States in 2022, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, also in 2022, culminating with the Paris Olympics in 2024. Around the corner is the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya from August 17 to 21.”

The sports minister said she was impressed by the youthfulness, manners and humility that characterized the delegation that went to the Tokyo Olympics. “I got a response in return for every message that I Whatsapped to every one of them who I reached out to,” she said.

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  • After new 400m season best, Olympian Candice McLeod feels she must suffer to run faster After new 400m season best, Olympian Candice McLeod feels she must suffer to run faster

    Following an impressive season-best run over 400m at the second JAAA/SDF Jubilee Saturday night, Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Candice McLeod revealed that she has been working on a new race plan that she believes could make even faster than she was in 2021.

    Inside the National Stadium in Kingston, the well-chiselled McLeod exploded at the 250m mark and pulled away from the field to win handsomely in 50.58. In her devastating wake were the Sprintec pair of Tiffany James and Ashley Williams, who ran 52.10 and 53.40 for second and third, respectively.

    McLeod’s winning time was the third-fastest by a Jamaican woman behind Charokee Young (49.87) and Stacey-Ann Williams (50.21).

    Surprisingly, she was pleased but not overly impressed with the performance.

     “I feel okay but I feel like I have a little more (to give). I feel like I was just working on what we have been working on in training,” she said following the victory.

    The new race plan that she and coach Fitz Coleman has been putting together is intended to take her to the next level because despite running a massive personal best of 49.51 at the Olympics last summer, McLeod feels as if she needs to suffer to get the best out of her body.

    “Honestly, even when I ran 49.5, I never felt like I gave it my all. I didn’t feel the leg pain, the headaches and whatever so I feel like I didn’t do enough,” she explained.

    “I have always wanted to feel at my maximum regardless of what it feels like. I want to feel like I am dying so I felt like I needed to switch it up a bit to get that dying feeling. Today wasn’t bad, it still wasn’t there but it’s getting there.”

    That plan has been coming together since the outdoor season began earlier this year when she opened with 51.78 at the MVP Velocity Fest meet in Kingston on April 2 before flying off to Bermuda where in extremely windy conditions on April 9, she clocked a solid 51.57. She was second in both races to the 2019 World Championship 400m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson.

    The University of the West Indies accounting graduate followed up on April 23 with what was then a season-best 51.20 in Kingston.

    However, just over a week ago, on May 13, the 25-year-old Olympic finalist ran her worst race of the season clocking 52.37 in a fifth place finish at the Doha Diamond League meeting. Despite the poor showing, McLeod said that race was important to her plans for this season even if things didn’t work out as planned.

    “I needed Doha because after the 51.2 here, I needed to see if I could get it (the race plan) in play but, unfortunately, I didn’t do what I wanted to, so I came today even though it wasn’t part of the schedule to run,” she said while explaining what went wrong in Doha.

    “It was the wind. It was bad execution by me too. Bad judgement of the wind and as for recovery, I am not too keen or known to recover well after travel but I am working on that. It takes time.”

    She expressed confidence that most, if not everything, will fall into place by the time Jamaica’s National Championships roll around in late June when she believes a new lifetime best is probable as she heads into the World Championships in Oregon just over two weeks later.

    “With practise comes improvement,” she said. “Everybody wants to be better than they were before so if I get that (below 49.51) then, wow. If I get 49.5, then wow again, but I am working towards just bettering myself,” said McLeod who is relishing the prospect of going up against the best that Jamaica has to offer, namely Young, Williams and defending national champion, Stephenie-Ann McPherson.

    “I am very confident in my preparation, my conditioning and everything. I love competition. It’s all fun for me because I love what I do, so regardless, competition or not, I am here for it,” she said.

     

     

     

  • All set for Saturday's third meet in JAAA/SDF Jubilee Series All set for Saturday's third meet in JAAA/SDF Jubilee Series

    The third meet in the “JAAA/SDF Jubilee series” will be staged this Saturday, May 21, at the National Stadium between 5pm and 7pm. Spectators will not be charged an entry fee.

    These events are designed to assist senior athletes as they prepare for the JAAA National Championships and other international competitions including the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, later this year. The Junior athletes will compete between 2pm and 4pm. 

    Saturday’s meet will see athletes contesting the following events for males and females; long jump, discus, shot put, Sprint hurdles, 100m, 200m 400m, 400m hurdles and an invitational 800m.

    All the athletes will be ranked based on performances this season. The 100m will only accommodate the top 32 ranked athletes, the 400m will see the top 24 and the top 16 will be in the sprint hurdles.

    The 400m hurdles will have the top eight based on entry while the field events will see the top twelve based on entry. 

    Monetary prizes will be awarded in the 400m hurdles for men and women, the 110m hurdles for men, the 200m for men and women and the discus for women.

    The winner of each of the selected six events will get $90,000.00, second place gets $45,000.00, third takes home $30,000.00, fourth $20,000.00 and fifth $15,000.00. 

    In total, each event will offer $200,000.00 in prizes, with $1.2 million being handed out overall for the day, providing the athletes meet a minimum standard. Only Jamaican athletes will benefit from the funds. 

    The last meet in the four-event series will be staged on June 4, 2022.

    Sponsors include the Sports Development Foundation, Puma and Jacden.

     

  • Olympic silver medalist Christania Williams working on a comeback, one race at a time Olympic silver medalist Christania Williams working on a comeback, one race at a time

    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.

     

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