The initiative by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) to invest millions into its equipment grant is bearing fruit with a number of member associations making use of the funds.

Financing for the program that provides funding for sporting associations to acquire equipment deemed critical to building capacity for sport and the performance of athletes, was made possible by way of a three-year partnership worth $45 million with Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL).

Seventeen member associations have so far benefitted, including the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) and the Jamaica Gymnastics Association (JAGA).  The Jamaica Golf Association, Jamaica Karate, Jamaica Bobsleigh, and Skeleton Federation also benefitted from the initiative as well as the Jamaica Cricket Association and the Jamaica Wrestling Federation.

In recent times, the ASAJ had been in desperate need of new lane lines for the national swimming pool at Independence Park Limited, as the ones that were in use had deteriorated so badly over the years, swimmers were at risk of injury whether during practice or competition.

However, the cost of replacing them – more than US$16,000 – proved prohibitive, which has been further impacted by the onset of the pandemic.

ASAJ President Martin Lyn explained that the JOA came to their aid after he outlined the challenges the association faced in acquiring new lane lines.

“The previous ones that we had, over time, deteriorated so that were sharp edges so swimmers could possibly get cut or bruised if they came in contact with the lane lines while swimming. So, the lane lines were very important for us and we simply could not afford to purchase them ourselves,” Lyn said.

“I approached the JOA. They not only helped but they paid for all of the lane lines. So the equipment grant was very helpful to the ASAJ. It is something that will be used for many years before we will need new lane lines.”

Lyn also explained that the new lane lines give the association some flexibility as it relates to their usage.

“Some of the lane lines that we now have can be used for both training and competition. They can also be used as a cordon for water polo. It was a very big help. We really appreciate the JOA partnering with us to ensure that our young athletes benefit.”

The gymnastics association has also lauded the JOA for their help via the grant in acquiring some important pieces of equipment that would help the athletes upgrade their skills.

“The JOA has been so supportive and serious about developing sports in Jamaica. They have assisted us with the purchase of three air vents for the gymnasium valued over $300,000 and also much-needed landed foam blocks to complete our landing pit to the tune of $1.5m,” said the association’s president Nicole Grant.

“We desperately needed the landing mats to help upgrade the gymnasts’ skills to prepare them for the Central American Championships and the Pan American Hopes Tournament later this year. We have already seen improvement in our gymnasts as they continue to train towards these events.” 

Grant said the initiative is yet another feather in the cap of the JOA that has been supportive of her fledgling association.

“We are truly thankful and grateful to the JOA because they have demonstrated time and again that their job is way beyond just sending teams to Games and the Olympics but helping with the development from the grassroots levels and educating our gymnasts and administrators through their various programs and scholarships that we have been on the receiving end of,” Grant said.

“Through the JOA, Olympian Toni-Ann Williams is currently in Europe pursuing a Masters in Sports Administration and I have recently completed the Diploma in Advance Sports Management conducted by the JOA. It’s definitely a blessing to be affiliated to such an institution that demonstrates time and again that assisting with the holistic development of a sport is necessary to achieve its ultimate goals.”

 

Jamaica's treble Tokyo Olympic Games gold medallist Elaine Thompson-Herah has been named the AIPS Best Female Athlete of 2021.

This follows a poll by the International Sports Press Association, where a panel of 529 journalists from 114 countries voted for the champions of 2021. Joining Thompson-Herah in receiving the top honour is Polish footballer Robert Lewandowski, who has been named the AIPS Best Male Athlete of 2021.

The former Manchester High School student, who was named the World Female Athlete of the Year at the World Athletics Awards 2021 earlier this month, retained her Olympic 100m and 200m titles in Tokyo and added a third gold medal in the 4x100m relay. She also ran world-leading times of 10.54 and 21.53 over 100m and 200m respectively, moving to second on the world all-time lists for each discipline.

She topped the AIPS poll with 605 points, ahead of Spanish footballer Alexia Putellas (490 points) and Venezuela's world triple jump record-holder and Olympic champion Yulimar Rojas (346 points).

Other athletics stars joining Thompson-Herah and Rojas in the top 10 are Kenya's Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon and Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, who claimed 5000m and 10,000m titles in Tokyo as well as 1500m bronze.

Joining Lewandowski in the top 10 for the men's award are Norway's Karsten Warholm, who was named the World Athletics Male Athlete of the Year, plus his fellow world record-holders and Olympic champions Mondo Duplantis of Sweden and Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya.

Thompson-Herah has also been named Athletics Weekly’s Female Athlete of the Year, NACAC Female Athlete of the Year and Diamond League Athletics’ Most Consistent Athlete in women’s sprints for 2021.

 

Steve Kerr has been confirmed as the new coach of the United States men's basketball team for 2022-24.

USA Basketball announced the appointment on Monday, with Kerr replacing San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich at the helm. Kerr had been Popovich's assistant on the national team since 2017.

Popovich – a five-time NBA champion with the Spurs – led the US to glory at this year's Tokyo Games, their fourth consecutive Olympic gold.

The team will have a similarly impressive staff moving forward, with Kerr in charge having won the NBA title five times as a player and on three occasions as coach of the Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors stood 24-6 for this year ahead of a Monday night game with the Sacramento Kings, as they make another run at the championship. They have improved Kerr's career win percentage to 69.3 – the third-best mark in NBA history. Among coaches with three wins or more, Popovich (66.3 per cent) ranks eighth.

Kerr will be supported by Gonzaga coach Mark Few, the Miami Heat's Erik Spoelstra and the Phoenix Suns' Monty Williams.

"I'm incredibly honoured and humbled to represent our country as the head coach for the USA Basketball men's national team," Kerr said in a statement. "It's a thrilling opportunity and I'm excited for the challenge."

Assuming the US qualify, Kerr will be in charge for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup and the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

For the past seven years, Yona Knight-Wisdom was the sole face of Jamaican diving, representing the country at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games and the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.

That could be about to change as another talented young diver has emerged, eager to represent the land of wood and water.

Those watching would have got the first glimpse of Yohan Eskrick-Parkinson diving synchro with Knight-Wisdom at the Scottish National and Open Diving Championships from December 2-5 at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh.

The newly forged pair finished second in the 3m synchro with a decent score of 375.60 and already the senior partner has begun to have a positive influence on the newcomer.

“Diving with Yona was an unparalleled learning experience,” Yohan tells Sportsmax. TV.

“Yona's experience with diving is immense, and exposure to an Olympic athlete's lifestyle and training was a chance for me to learn what it takes to perform at such a high level. Yona is an exemplary mentor and leader.”

Yohan was born in Calgary, Canada, in 2000 to Canadian Melissa Escrick and Jamaican Desmond Parkinson and began diving when he was just eight years old.

Growing up in Calgary, he attended high school at the National Sport School (NSS) while he trained for diving. Deciding that he wanted to explore possibilities for diving at the NCAA level, Yohan got accepted to Northwestern University where he is in his fourth year studying Neuroscience with plans to attend medical school.

Diving for Northwestern, Yohan was a two-time finalist (1m, 3m) at the 2020 Big 10 Conference Championships. He was also a finalist in the 1m   springboard at the conference championships in March.

It was while in high school that Yona first came to Yohan’s attention and he has followed his career ever since.

“I had been urged on by several coaches to look into the possibility of diving for Jamaica and began pursuing this in my second year of college,” he said. “Yona really paved the way for me and inspired me to dive for Jamaica.”

In early 2019, he decided to reach out to Knight-Wisdom to find out how he began diving for Jamaica and they developed a relationship.

“He got in touch with me on Instagram just sending me a few videos of him diving,” Knight-Wisdom explained.

“We spoke a little without making any plans, then after Tokyo was out of the way I decided to see if we could make something happen.”

That they did at the Scottish Championships earlier this month after training together for about a week.

“Training synchro with Yona was a success. Of course, it can be challenging to truly know how well we would sync up just by watching each other’s diving, so travelling to Scotland to train together was an important step in the process of seeing if synchro might be a possibility,” Yohan said.

“Thankfully, the synchro went well from the start, and we only had to make some minor adjustments to achieve rudimentary synchronization. This is a small but very important step towards taking our synchro team internationally. I believe we have a lot of potential moving forward.”

Already a Jamaican citizen, Yohan is awaiting his Jamaican passport with the intention of representing Jamaica at future events in the coming years starting in 2022.

“As diving is still a new sport for Jamaica, my goal is to compete and see how far I can go both individually and in synchro. It is an amazing opportunity to be among the first divers to have represented Jamaica in diving. I hope my performance inspires more Jamaicans to pursue diving in the future,” he said.

In the meantime, Yohan is focused on the next phase of his studies, already recognizing the significant challenge of studying medicine while training and competing as a diver. Nonetheless, he hopes to overcome the challenges with the hope of representing the country of his father’s birth at the very highest level.

“Currently, I am at a transition stage both academically and athletically where I am finishing college in the spring and planning to move on to graduate school. I have applied to several medical schools and am also applying to several masters as a backup plan in case I have to take a couple of gap years before reapplying for medical school,” he explained.

“Although diving through medical school would be a big challenge due to the intensity of studying, I will continue training through the summer and see what opportunities arise to continue my pursuit of the sport.

“I will first take the necessary steps to perform at some international events in 2022 and evaluate if the Olympics is a possibility.  The opportunity to try to qualify for the Olympics for team Jamaica is very exciting for me, and I will continue to work hard over next year and see how I place on an international scale.”

 

 

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and Jamaica’s Minister of Sport Olivia Grange have expressed regret at the passing of Jamaican Olympian Bryon LaBeach, who died in California on Sunday, December 12, at the age of 91.

Triple Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah on Sunday announced the birth of The FastElaine Foundation that will focus on helping vulnerable children from mainly under-served communities as well some students from Christiania High and Manchester High Schools, educational institutions she attended during her childhood.

British Virgin Islands athlete Chantal Malone has attributed her poor performance at the Tokyo Olympics, and general dip in form last season, to injuries she sustained in the lead-up to the Games.

The Pan Am Games champion in the Long Jump, began her season in phenomenal form with four straight 7 metres performances, but saw a dip in form as the season went on that culminated with her finishing a disappointing 12th in the Olympic final with a 6.50 metres jump.

Malone, speaking on an episode of SportsMax.Tv’s On Point, said she was having injury trouble up to two weeks before the Games in Tokyo.

“A week prior to Chula Vista in April, I had to get a PRP injection in my hamstring because I found out I had a strain in my hamstring. Two weeks before the games, I strained my hamstring again. Prior to that my knee flared up,” said Malone.

The fact that she never really took a break from training after the pandemic also took a toll on her physically.

“You’re training at this high intensity and your body is like; Ok you’ve got to oil me. You want a Ferrari to run like a Ferrari you’ve got to treat it like a Ferrari. That was just what my body was saying to me after training at such a high intensity for so long because, at that point, it had been 2 years since I’d been training at that intensity,” said Malone.

The 2014 CAC Games champion says she was also affected mentally by her ailments.

“Mentally, that’s what took me out a little bit because I didn’t know if I could trust my body. I wanted to jump, and I knew the kind of shape I was in, but subconsciously you’re being a little hesitant with putting the foot down a certain way or just executing the way you need to. As I reflect on the Games that was one of the blocks that I had,” she said.

The full interview can be seen on the Sportsmax TV YouTube channel.

 

Eight-time Olympic medallist and founder of the Pocket Rocket Foundation, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, has partnered with Visa to create specially branded shirts that will be available to donors who use their Visa cards to contribute US$100 to her foundation.

The shirts will feature Fraser-Pryce’s signature as well as the Olympic rings on the sleeve. Donors will also receive a mask signed by Fraser-Pryce and a Pocket Rocket pin.

Fraser-Pryce, who lowered her 100m personal best to 10.60 this season, says all proceeds will go towards the Pocket Rocket Foundation.

The nine-time World Championships gold medallist reminded potential Visa donors that their contributions are for a good cause.

“I know you guys are eager to grab the shirts but please be reminded that this will go towards the Pocket Rocket Foundation and your support means the world to us and all our student-athletes, the ones who are still here and the ones who are coming for the future,” she said.

This branded shirts venture is the latest in a number of initiatives Fraser-Pryce has undertaken to raise funds for the foundation. Last month, she was the guest of honour at an auction held at the Miramar Cultural Centre in Florida. 

Former Kingston College standout, Akeem Bloomfield, says he is 100 percent healthy going into the new track and field season.

The 2019 World Championships 400 metres finalist, speaking on Sportsmax TV’s On Point, says that after sustaining an injury in April, he is ready to go.

“It was a really bad injury to my right hamstring. I did an intensive rehab process after I got injured. Even though I shut down my season I was still doing rehab. So, I can say for the most part, right now I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said.

Bloomfield, who holds the Class 1 400m record at the ISSA Boys and Girls' Championships in Jamaica at 44.98, which made him the first Jamaican schoolboy at break 45 second at the championships,  will also be going into this season with a new camp after leaving MVP international and joining the Tumbleweed Track Club based in Florida.

Other members of that club include Olympic 200 metres champion, Andre DeGrasse, and former Calabar rival and Olympic 400 metres finalist, Christopher Taylor.

Bloomfield expanded on training alongside Taylor at the club.

“I can say it’s a very good experience, so far. I mean, we had that high school rivalry so now to put that aside and focus now as professional athletes and train in the same group, I’d say it’s good so far. He’s a very good training partner and I can see us building a very good relationship as the season progresses,” he said.

In a trip down memory lane for many fans of the Jamaican High School Track and Field Championships, or “Champs” as it is affectionately called, Bloomfield was asked about his famous showdown with Taylor on the anchor leg in the Boys open 4x400 metres relay in 2016.

When asked if he would have done anything differently looking back, Bloomfield said he wouldn’t change anything.

“I wouldn’t have used a different strategy because I don’t think people really paid attention to how close our personal bests were. At the time his personal best was 45.2 and mine was 44.9. That’s a very close margin so for me to get the baton 15 metres behind, I can’t be the one to go catch him and then sit behind him. I had to try to zoom ahead and try to hold form and unfortunately it did not work out,” he said.

The full interview can be seen on the Sportsmax TV YouTube channel.

 

 

Jamaica's 2020 Olympic heavyweight boxer Ricardo 'Big 12' Brown has turned professional after recently finalizing a contract with United Boxing Promotions in Canada where he now resides.

Tyler Buxton of United Boxing Promotions, in announcing the signing, believes Brown possesses significant potential.

“Everyone loves heavyweights and at 6’7”, Ricardo is a massive heavyweight,” he said. “They call him ‘Big 12’ for a reason. He has knockout power in both hands. I’m excited to launch Ricardo’s professional career and build a platform for professional boxing in Jamaica with Big12 leading the way.”

When Brown qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics he became the first Jamaican to do so since 1996. The Pan Am Games bronze medalist said he is keen to begin his professional career.

“I’m very happy to be a part of the United Boxing Promotions. I’m humbled and I am looking forward to seeing what United Boxing Promotions have to offer me as I start my boxing career,” he said.

Brown said he hopes to inspire youngsters in both Jamaica and Canada, encouraging them, “Stay determined, disciplined, honest, and focused. You too can be in the Olympic ring one day or even have a professional boxing career.”

Born and raised in Spanish Town, St Catherine, Brown was introduced to boxing at an early age but now trains in Canada with Dewith Frazer.

Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Boxing Board Stephen Bomber Jones fully endorsed Brown’s transition to the professional ranks.

"Having witnessed first-hand the trajectory of 'Big12' Brown's career from a novice to elite national representative and medalist, I am more than excited about the possibilities this his professional future entails,” the boxing board president said.

“I am not only certain that it will be a bright one but I truly believe he has all that it takes to be a future world heavyweight champion and we look forward to him fighting as a pro here on home soil."

Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah has been unveiled as one of the five finalists for female athlete of the year.

Thompson-Herah has been nominated on the back of a phenomenal season on the track which saw her achieve new heights in the sport.

She ran 10.61 to win the 100 metres in Tokyo and followed that up with 21.53 to win the 200 metres, becoming the only woman to win the Olympic sprint double on two occasions after also doing so in Rio five years ago.

She was also a part of Jamaica’s victorious Women’s 4x100 metres relay team.

After the Olympics, Thompson-Herah went on to achieve even more success.

At the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon on August 21st, Thompson sped to a personal best and national record time of 10.54 seconds, the second-fastest time ever in the women’s 100 metres.

She broke 10.7 seconds four times this season, including in the Diamond League final in Zurich where she ran 10.65 to win.

Thompson-Herah has been nominated for the award alongside Dutch distance runner, Sifan Hassan, American hurdler, Sydney McLaughlin, Venezuelan Triple Jumper, Yulimar Rojas and Kenyan middle-distance specialist, Faith Kipyegon.

Hassan won the 5000, 10,000 metres double in Tokyo and also broke the 10,000 metres world record this season.

McLaughlin set two new world records in the women’s 400 metres hurdles on her way to winning gold in Tokyo.

Rojas set a new triple jump world record to win gold in Tokyo, and Kipyegon set a new Kenyan record in the women’s 1500 metres while also winning gold in Tokyo.

The winner will be announced at the World Athletics Awards to be held virtually on December 1st.

 

 

Bahamian two-time Olympic 400m champion, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, has expressed pride that Bahamian athletes won gold medals in both the men’s and women’s 400 metres at the Olympics in Tokyo this past summer.

Two-time Olympic 400m gold medalist Shaunae Miller-Uibo has revealed that injuries significantly impacted her Olympic preparation throughout the 2021 season when she had planned to focus on the 200m.

Speaking on Sportsmax TV’s On Point, Millier-Uibo said an injury she sustained while running 49.08 to win the 400 metres at the USATF Grand Prix in Eugene on April 24th prevented her from doing any speed training in preparation for Tokyo.

“We were supposed to start our speed training after Eugene at the end of April and that’s when I got hurt so we never really got a chance to jump into speed work. It’s unfortunate sometimes in track,” she said.

As it turns out, the injury was more serious than she initially thought.

“At the end, we found out that it was a tear in my gluteus medius. I actually stalled for a bit with trying to fix it because I didn’t quite know what it was at first. It just felt as though something was jammed so I figured maybe I could go to the chiropractor and get it sorted out. We tried that and it didn’t help,” she said.

The gluteus medius is a muscle located on the outer surface of the pelvis.

The three-time World Championship medalist says the pain started to ease going into the rest of the season until she went to compete at the Adidas Boost Boston Games in May.

“It started to get a little softer going into the rest of the season and then I went to Boston to compete and realized this is something really bad and the minute we get back home I’m going to check and see what it is. Took an MRI and found out there was a slight tear in my gluteus medius so we decided to rest it off and go slowly from there to try and build it up in time for Tokyo,” she said.

Injuries also affected her in Tokyo as was evident in the final of the Women’s 200 metres where Miller-Uibo finished eighth in a time of 24.00.

“I went into Tokyo nursing an injury and right before the heats, I felt really good. Everything was going really well and it was after the heats that I got a little banged up where I started to feel my right hip. I went and raced on it because it was still light at the time, raced into the semis and really hurt it then.”

In addition the trouble with her hip, Miller-Uibo also felt pain in her hamstring in her 200 metres semi-final.

“In the race itself I actually didn’t feel the hip. It was my hamstring that ended up grabbing on me and it was just a wrap from there.”

The Bahamian champion overcame her struggles and returned days later to storm to a new personal best 48.36 and win her second consecutive Olympic women’s 400 metres title.

The full interview with Shaunae Miller-Uibo can be seen on Sportsmax TV’s YouTube channel.

 

As she continues to prepare to compete at next summer’s World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, Olympic bronze medalist Megan Tapper has signed a sponsorship agreement with plant-based nutrition brand ATAQ.

Tapper has been using ATAQ products since 2019 when they first entered the Jamaican market, to support her training and recovery but has now formalized her relationship with the start-up company.

“Competing at the highest possible levels getting nutrition right can make all the difference. I’ve been using ATAQ’s products for several years now and I feel a huge difference in my performance and recovery,” said Tapper.

With the agreement, Tapper joins a diverse group of athletes who are onboard with ATAQ. They include Julie Ertel, the 2000 Olympic silver medalist in water polo, USA Triathlete and two-time Pan Am Gold medalist in Individual Triathlon, who is a member and athletic advisor to ATAQ.

 Tammo Walter, Co-Founder and CEO of ATAQ, said the company was thrilled to have the affable Jamaican hurdler on board.

“We are super excited to have Megan be part of the ATAQ family. When you organically find someone that uses and believes so much in your products then that’s the best position to be in and working together,” Walter said.

 “We are excited to not only help fuel her efforts and journey with our products but to get her insights, thoughts and feedback.”

As a road cycling enthusiast Walter himself is no stranger to the challenge of fueling training and competition the right way.

ATAQ was born out of his own need for clean, plant-based sports nutrition, providing healthy products specifically developed for athletes with high-performance goals.

“Understanding the athlete’s needs, demands and challenges make engaging with athletes like Megan crucial to provide effective products that athletes want to use. And that’s what is most important to us,” Nikki Halbur, Co-Founder and COO explained.

Tapper started out as a gymnast, representing Jamaica when she was only eight years old. As a teenager, she switched to track and field and finished her junior/under 23 list of accomplishments as National Collegiate Champion and record holder before making it all the way to the semi-finals in the 2016 Olympics in London. She was also a finalist at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Being 5’ 1” tall, she acknowledges that her size can be a disadvantage in clearing hurdles. However, she isn’t fazed by it and focuses on advantages like being faster between each hurdle and she has proven that she can defy the odds over and over again.

 

Bahamian superstar sprinter Shaunae Miller-Uibo has her sights set on establishing a new world record in the women’s 400 metres.

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