Jamaica discus thrower, Shadae Lawrence, registered a fourth consecutive win after taking first place at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational meet on Friday.

Lawrence recorded a distance of 57.86m, finishing well clear of the rest of the field.  Finishing in second was the University of Miami’s Kristina Rakočević who recorded 51.80m, with Jalani Davis (Ole Miss) third with a distance of 51.32.

The win for the Jamaican national record holder follows up on a victory last week at the USA Track & Field (USATF) Sprint Summit.  Elsewhere, former Jamaica College jumper Clayton Brown also claimed the top spot in the men’s high jump.  Brown took first place with a leap of 2.21m, ahead of Old Miss’ Allen Gordon who took second in 2.16m.  Third place went to Louisville’s Trey Allen who recorded 2.11m.

In the Men's 200 Dash Olympic Development Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards clocked 20.30 to secure second place, behind the United States’ Fred Kerley who took the top spot in 20.24.  Erriyon Knighton was third in 20.39.

 West Indies batsman, Kyle Mayers, thinks losing the captaincy may have been a blessing in disguise for all-rounder Jason Holder, who he thinks is freer to be more himself without the additional responsibility.

After seven years in charge, Holder was replaced as captain of the Test team last month by Kraigg Brathwaite.  Brathwaite was himself promoted to the post after successfully taking charge during a successful tour of Bangladesh, which Holder had opted out of, along with 11 other players.

The change in circumstances has, however, not affected Holder’s play on the field and, equally importantly, he has been vocal with his encouragement of teammates on the field.  The previously mentioned characteristic is one many of his critics believe was absent during the majority of his tenure as captain.

 “Jason brought a different personality to the dressing room than what was in Bangladesh and it’s been working out nicely, especially the hard times in the field, Jason has been behind the guys, pushing us to do well.  I think him being skipper stopped that for a few years,” Mayers told SportsMax.tv’s The Commentators podcast.

“That’s the type of person he actually is.  A jovial person, always making fun, talking a lot.  I guess as captain being focused on the game, he couldn’t do that as much but now he is free, probably just trying to play as well as he can and be as free as he can,” he added.

“For me, if you are enjoying cricket more and you have less to worry about, it should make you better.  You focus more on yourself.”

Catch the full episode of The Commentators podcast below 

 

 

Australia Open champion, Naomi Osaka, has described watching Jamaica sprint king Usain Bolt performing at the Olympics as her most memorable moment.

Bolt, who retired from the sport of track and field in 2017, will not be competing at the Games in Tokyo this summer but in many ways still looms large over a sport he dominated for close to a decade.

At the 2016 Rio Games, the last time the event was held, Bolt destroyed the field in typical fashion, en route to three gold medals in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m.  On debut, at the 2008 Beijing Games, Bolt set massive world records in both the 100m and 200m sprints.

Overall, Bolt finished his csareer with 8 Olympic gold medals.  With such dominant performances, it is little wonder that Osaka, who has Caribbean roots herself with her father hailing from the island of Haiti, enjoyed watching the Jamaican in his prime.  Osaka, who is likely to attempt to win a gold medal for Japan this summer, recently shared what the quadrennial event has meant to her over the years.

“When I think of the Olympics, what comes to mind is, of course, the opening ceremony, just seeing all the people being so happy,” Osaka said in an interview posted on the ITF official website.

“My like most outstanding Olympic memory is just watching Bolt run. He’s my favorite athlete and for my whole family. My dad really loves his running so we would just like to watch him.”

Former Jamaica U-23 and Montego Bay United forward, Deshane Beckford, is expected to join USL Championship club Colorado Switchbacks on a season-long loan.

The move will mark the second for the Jamaica national over the past several years, after first joining the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros at the end of 2019.  Beckford also spent the 2020 season with the Toros.

In 22 USL Championship appearances, the forward has scored three goals.  Brown put himself on the radar of the USL after a strong performance at the 2019 Pan American Games where he scored three goals for Jamaica in three games.  The forward also previously represented Jamaica at the U-17 level.

The move remains dependent on the player renewing a work visa, but Beckford expressed delight with the opportunity to continue plying his trade in the US second division.

 “I'm grateful to be a part of the Switchbacks, the players and staff have been really positive,” Beckford told USL Championship.com.

 “I'm excited for the upcoming season.”

The 23-year-old previously trialed for West Ham in 2015.  Colorado Springs coach Brendan Burke welcomed Beckford’s addition to the line-up.

“Deshane is a player that impressed us immensely during his performance with the Jamaican U23 team in the Pan American Games,” Burke said.

“His pace, soft feet, and nose for goal should add another weapon to our still-evolving group of forwards.”

Promising West Indies batsman, Kyle Mayers, has expressed confidence at the prospect of becoming a top international Test cricket all-rounder, on the back of encouraging displays with both the bat and ball in recent months.

The attacking-minded Mayers burst on the scene with a stroke-filled 210 unbeaten in the first Test against Bangladesh, in February of this year.  However, against Sri Lanka last month, the player also had a good turn with the ball.  Not only extracting movement from a placid pitch but taking four wickets in the process, with just a short spell.

The display prompted some pundits to suggest that the player had the ability to become a dependable all-rounder for the squad if he could improve his overall fitness.

Bowling would not have been entirely new to Mayers, however, as he was at one point considered more of a bowling all-rounder, having claimed 71 wickets in 30 first-class matches at an average of 21.54.  Having displayed more prowess with the bat in recent months, Mayers is convinced that he can do both at the highest level in the mold of former West Indies captain Jason Holder, or England’s Ben Stokes, the world’s top-ranked all-rounders.

“I have it in me to do it.  I just have to become fitter,” Mayer’s told SportsMax’s The Commentators podcast.

“I just started Test cricket and people think watching it on tv, it’s very easy, it’s very hard.  I will always say that, and I will always let young people coming up know that if you want to play Test cricket you need to work very hard,” he added.

“Preparation is key for me to be up there with Jason.  It will take that hard work, but I believe I can do it for sure.  Having number one and maybe number two in the world can’t be so bad.  If they had two of the world’s best all-rounders the guys would be happy.”

 Catch full interview in the Podcast below

 

 

Jamaica hurdler Damion Thomas believes he is finally firmly back on the right track after several recent seasons where he was plagued by injuries and indifferent form.

The 21-year-old Louisiana State University student registered his first NCAA title this past indoor season and last month continued that form with brilliant hurdling, which saw him clock a world-leading 13.22 seconds (1.3m/s) at the Texas Relays.

The efforts mark a comeback of sorts for Thomas who tied the U20 world record in the 110-meter hurdles, after running 12.99 over the 39-inch height at the 2018 Jamaican Junior Championships. He then followed up the record-breaking moment by winning gold at the World U20 Championships.

A quadriceps injury during the 2019 season, however, hampered the hurdler's efforts to build on a promising start to his collegiate career and, of course, in 2020, the global pandemic saw sports grind to a halt for several months.

 "I'd say last year's coronavirus [pandemic] shutting down the season was probably more heartbreaking than my sophomore year and the injuries," Thomas said in an interview with Milesplit USA.

"I felt healthy, training was going so well into the meet and then they shut it down for everybody. Right after that meeting, I remember all of us just going to one room and we literally were staring out the window. 'Like dang this is crazy.'"

 The athlete, however, managed to use the quarantine period to his advantage, putting work into honing his technique.  He has emerged from the hiatus as strong and sharp as ever and is so far a big favourite to secure a spot on the Jamaica Olympic squad later this year.

"It feels good to know that I'm on the right path," Thomas said of his resurgence.

“I think the big thing now is ... not to be complacent and continue to look at the flaws in my race to see where I can get better. I want to stay hungry and continue to feel like an underdog. Even though I'm world-leading, that doesn't mean anything going forward."

 

Retied Jamaica international, Fitzroy Simpson, has called for the return of the spirit of togetherness for the Reggae Boyz, expressing the hope that the current squad can go on to match the exploits of his historic 1998 unit.

Up until recently, some members of the Jamaica national team and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) were embroiled in a bitter contractual dispute, which saw several members of the team unavailable for the Caribbean team’s clash against the United States last month.

With the dispute now settled, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers coming later this year, Simpson is urging both parties to come together.

“Unity is so important,” Simpson said in a recent interview with the Irish Mirror.

“The set-up now has to be unified and improvements made on the business side,” he added.

Simpson was one of several English-based players to join the Jamaica national team ahead of their historic qualification for the World Cup in France.  The former Manchester City and Portsmouth player started all three games at the tournament and has fond memories of not just playing at the final itself but also the build-up.

“It was breathtaking.  It was the greatest honour in my playing career to lead Jamaica to history,” Simpson said.

“I remember my mother, my brother, and my uncle in the stadium when we qualified.  I looked at them and couldn't believe what we had achieved because Jamaica wasn't recognised as a footballing nation.  The whole country really drove us on, the support was incredible.”

 

 

Former West Indies captain, Daren Sammy, insists veteran batsman Chris Gayle would be a sure pick in his squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup as the player’s experience and explosive ability remain invaluable.

The recent decision by Cricket West Indies (CWI) to recall the batsman for the recent series against Sri Lanka was met with criticism in some quarters, with some believing the selectors should have opted for younger talent.  The player's struggles in the series did little to dispel that notion.

Sammy, the two-time T20 World Cup-winning captain, however, does not agree.

“After watching Chris Gayle play in the Pakistan Super League, the IPL late last year, and looking at his career, I think he should definitely go to the World Cup,” Sammy told Line and Length on SportsMax.

“Whether he plays in the final XI is a matter for the guys on tour because you will have Evin (Lewis) and (Lendl) Simmons, but Chris’ experience in India and what he brings to the team, I would have him with me,” he added.

“Chris is a batting leader! He has over 20 hundreds in T20s and the next person after that has eight or nine and his experience cannot be underrated so I would have him with me. He knows the big occasion and you bet he can still turn it on…. I will go with him,” said Sammy from his home in St. Lucia.

Gayle has played 31 T20s for the West Indies and scored two centuries and 13 half-centuries, with an average of 31.24 and a strike rate of 140.81. At the last World Cup, he scored an unbeaten 100 in the first match against England but ended the series with 113 runs from four innings.

Sammy, who was at the helm when the team won the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka, in 2012, versus the hosts, and in 2016 against England, thinks that the West Indies can win again if they improve their bowling attack.

“We have the batting firepower, but we are missing two x-factor bowlers. Fidel is back and brings some pace, but I think our best chance will be chasing totals. We don’t have that Sunil Narine type of bowler and, to be honest, that’s the missing link. We can win but we need a couple of bowlers to put pressure on for eight overs,” explained Sammy.

 

Five years after his fiery speech criticising Cricket West Indies (CWI) hierarchy and then President, Dave Cameron at the conclusion of the T20 World Cup, Darren Sammy says he would do it all over again if he had to.

As the Windies celebrated the 5th anniversary of their historic victory over India at the 2016 Showpiece in Eden Gardens, Sammy reiterated that he would never apologise to Cameron for his statements, which eventually put an end to his international career.

 “You seek forgiveness when you have done something wrong. I wouldn’t change anything I said because I spoke the truth as to what went on and yes, I paid the price for it, but that’s the way life goes. My Mom always said if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything,” he said while a guest on Line & Length on SportsMax

“I thought I was a true representative to my team. To Dave Cameron, he has moved on. I recently saw on your show he said he is still available for advice…but I don’t know how the current administration would think about that,” he explained.

After Carlos Brathwaite hit four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes to upset England in the final over, Sammy chose the presentation ceremony to vilify the administration for a number of matters prior to the tournament and during the competition when players clashed with CWI over fees, equipment, and communication differences.

“There is a vibe and player-harmony now. The players are playing for their captain...added to that, it’s been great watching Jason Holder and the respect he has gained even though no longer captain. West Indies cricket seems to be moving in the right direction,” said Sammy.

 

 

Jamaica international Liam Moore has vowed to quit social media after being the subject of vile abuse earlier this week. 

The Reading captain was the target of a poll that posed the racist question “Should a n***** be captain of Reading FC?" The account has since been deleted.

In response, Moore also laid the blame at the feet of the social media platform.  The issue has once again been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent weeks.

"2021 and I'm not ****ing surprised in the slightest. Twitter you're as much to blame for making it so easy to abuse people,” he tweeted.

 Earlier this week, Swansea announced that they would not take part in any social media activity for two weeks, following the abuse of another Jamaica international Jamal Lowe.  They were joined in protest by Scottish club Rangers.  Arsenal legend Thierry Henry had also previously announced the decision to delete his social media accounts in a bid to direct attention to the issue.

While pointing out that he had enjoyed interacting with the fans via social media, Moore denoted the environment to be an increasingly toxic one.

"I have enjoyed engaging with many of you on here over the years but tonight was just another example of Twitter being toxic,” he added.

"You have to stand for something and for that reason I am deactivating my account. Thanks for your support."

 

Jamaica international and Swansea forward, Jamal Lowe, believes an end to the ability to be completely anonymous on social media platforms could go a long way in helping to combat racism online and hate speech.

The 26-year-old player found himself the target of racist online abuse following the team’s loss to Birmingham City last weekend.  The forward was the third Swansea player since February to suffer the issue.

In response, Swansea announced that the club would boycott any social media-related activities for two weeks.  They were joined in the effort by Scottish club Rangers.  The player hopes the effort will at least bring more attention to the issue or push social media platforms towards a response.

The issue of the right to online anonymity has provoked fierce debate since the early days of the internet.  At current, individuals are not required to provide identification in order to sign up for accounts, Lowe believes that could part of the issue.

“At the moment, no one knows who is abusing any of us,” Lowe told Sky Sports.

“You’ve got an Instagram account, or a Twitter account or whatever when you sign up, put your email address in, put your national insurance number in or your passport number in, your driver’s license number, something that can identify you as a person,” he added.

“Something that can be linked back to who you really are and not just a page you created in five minutes, send some abuse and delete it because that’s a never-ending story.”

 

Big-hitting Windies T20 batsman, Kieron Pollard, failed to move closer to a historic IPL milestone after being dismissed for just 7 in the season opener, which pitted Mumbai Indians against Royal Challengers Bangalore at Chepauk Stadium on Friday.

Pollard remains just two sixes shy of 200 IPL sixes, a feat which has been achieved by just five other five batsmen.  At the top of the list is Pollard’s compatriot and Punjab Kings batsman Chris Gayle (349), Royal Challengers Bangalore premier batsman AB de Villiers is next (235), followed by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain MS Dhoni (216), Mumbai Indians (MI) Rohit Sharma (213), and RCB skipper Virat Kohli (201) close the list.

In Friday’s encounter, Pollard was, however, undone by a slower delivery from Harshal Patel and caught in the deep by Washington Sundar.  The player’s 7 runs consisted of just one four with no sixes.  RCB won the thrilling encounter by just two wickets.  Batting first Mumbai made 159 for 8 before RCB, needing 7 off the last over, ended with 160 for 8 off the final ball of the over.  RCB batsman AB De Villiers top-scored with 48 from 27 deliveries.

 

West Indies legend, Curtly Ambrose, has re-added his voice to the call for an end to the preparation of ‘placid’ pitches throughout the Caribbean for international and regional cricket fixtures.

In the light of the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka, which ended with two drawn games, several former players and Windies coach Phil Simmons has expressed dissatisfaction with the surface prepared for the tour.

The debate has, however, raged on long before that, with Ambrose himself listed among those previously suggesting that many of the pitches prepared are too flat and offer little assistance to bowlers. 

The West Indies, Sri Lanka series has only added to the dissatisfaction.  In both Test matches, Sri Lanka, then the West Indies, the teams enjoyed comfortable leads headed into the final day but ended up doing very little to disturb the batsmen in the pursuit of wickets.

“I have seen local cricket played at Sir Viv Richards cricket stadium where you have grass on the pitch and the ball bounces and carries with good pace … so it’s not a situation where it cannot be done,” Ambrose told the Good Morning Jojo Radio show.

“I felt that the pitches were a little too flat and I’ve been saying this for years — we need to prepare better cricket pitches where the batsmen could play their strokes and the ball bounces a bit for the bowlers,” he added.

Former Windies pace bowler, Richard 'Prof' Edwards, admits he is disappointed by what he believes to be the slow progress of promising pace bowler Alzarri Joseph.

The 24-year-old fast bowler has long been tipped to give West Indies the type of firepower typical of years gone by but is yet to completely deliver on that promise.

The young bowler has shown plenty of flashes of that prodigious talent.  He put in a strong performance against England, in 2019, and took a record-breaking six for 12 on his debut for Mumbai Indians.  Joseph has, however, not produced such performances consistently.  Joseph, who made his debut in 2016, has taken 38 Test wickets in 16 matches and 54 One Day International wickets in 34 matches.

“It’s disappointing that he does not seem to have gone on from the time he started until now, there doesn’t seem to be any great improvement,” Edwards told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“He seems to be bowling wide of the crease to right-handers, angling it.  He should get as close to the stumps as possible,” he added.

“He is not accurate, he had not been able to develop as much as you would have expected.  He is not a real swinger of the ball, he is athletic, he looks like he bowls pretty fast, but he is not doing much with the ball.”

 

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