The very successful staging of the inaugural Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA)/Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) ‘Olympic Destiny’ track and field series has arrested the attention of the global sporting fraternity in a manner that has left experts shouting "bravo".

In a publication, World Athletics stated that the series is "aptly named JOA/JAAA ‘Olympic Destiny’. The Washington Post newspaper in the United States also had the event on its radar with a report on the explosive world-leading 10.63 performance of sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100 metres.

Performances during the series were also captured in traditional and new media entities worldwide.

Although only in its first year, ‘Olympic Destiny’ has already earned a reputation locally and internationally as a standard-bearer in track and field, which the JOA and its member association, the JAAA, intend to guard jealously.

Contemplating current health challenges and risks and looking to the future, President of the JOA, Christopher Samuda, in a post-event interview, stated that, "Olympic Destiny gave athletes a new and inspired lease on life amidst the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and the national senior trials will be the 'Olympic Verdict' as athletes vie for coveted places at the pinnacle multi-sport the Olympic Games”.

The description, ‘Olympic Verdict’, of the national senior trials, is on point as several events, including the 100m, 200m, 110m hurdles and the triple jump for both men and women, as well as the discus for men, are expected to be competitive and showstoppers.

Secretary-General and CEO of the JOA, Ryan Foster, in anticipating keen contests, remarked that "on D-day at the national senior trials, diplomacy will somewhat give way to assertive rivalry for at the end of it all there will be one verdict, which performances will deliver.”

This year's national senior trials between June 24 and 27 at the National Stadium is indeed the ‘Olympic Verdict’ as "emerging generations will meet experienced campaigners in a decider that will be healthy for the sport, thrilling for the fans and ensure succession," Foster said.

The jury will certainly not be out where the staging of future Destiny series is concerned as the JOA intends to roll out ‘Olympic Destiny’ in 2022 and beyond in athletics and other sports.

"Olympic Destiny is now a staple on the calendar as we have earmarked the summer and winter Games as dramatic watershed events of exciting times ahead of us,'' Samuda declared.

If the significant turnout of athletes and the notable performances are anything to go by, the ‘Olympic Destiny’ Series will become not only a local product of Olympism but an international asset.

 

Despite once again re-writing the record books, Jamaica sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce admits she was not expecting to clock such a fast time.

On Saturday, at the JAAA Destiny Series, in Kingston, Fraser-Pryce ran the fastest women’s 100m time since Florence Griffith-Joyner set the world record 33 years ago. 

The multiple-times Olympic and world champion stopped the clock at 10.63, moving her second on the list of the fastest times in history.  The time, which obliterated her previous national record of 10.70, is only bettered by Griffith-Joyner’s 10.49.

“I was just making sure that I had a good run before the National Championships, because I don’t have any more races before that.  I was just looking forward to putting in a solid race,” Fraser-Pryce said following the event.

“I was focused on getting my technique and everything together ahead of the national championship.  So, in terms of the 10.6, I really wasn’t expecting it to be honest and maybe that was a good thing,” she added.

Heading into her final Olympics, Fraser-Pryce had insisted that she would prioritise running fast times, having already won several gold medals.  The race was the athlete’s fourth over the distance this season, having opened with a fourth-place finish at the Diamond League meet in Gateshead.  In Doha last week, she recorded the then 3rd fastest 100m time this season after crossing the line first in 10.83.

 

 

Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce recorded the second-fastest time ever clocked over the women's 100m, after registering a blistering 10.63 to destroy the field at the JAAA Olympic Destiny Series, at the National Stadium on Saturday.

The mark, which was registered in a 1.3 legal wind reading, obliterated the country’s previous national record of 10.70 that she previously shared with compatriot Elaine Thompson-Herah. 

The run also moved the athlete up the world fastest list, sitting her second behind the United States’ Florence Griffith Joyner who still holds the record 10.49, which was set in 1988.  Another US athlete, Carmelita Jeter, has now dropped to third on the all-time list with her time of 10.65.

The race was only the athlete’s third 100m of the season, after opening with a fourth-place finish in Gateshead, followed by a win in Doha, where she ran the then third fastest time this season (10.84), in a pair of Diamond League events. 

Earlier this week, the athlete had claimed that prioritising fast times would be the aim this season, for what will be her final Olympic Games this summer.

Natasha Morrison, who recorded her personal best earlier this season (10.87), was second behind Fraser-Pryce with a time of 10.95, with Kashieka Cameron third with 11.39.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce clocked a season-best 10.84 to record her first win over 100m at the Diamond League meeting in Doha today.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce said her priority for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan is running faster than 10.70 in the 100m but indicates that it would be nice to be on the podium with a medal and the time she is so passionately in pursuit of.

 Reigning Olympic 100m champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah, will miss this weekend’s Doha Diamond League meet, despite being originally listed as a part of the line-up.

According to an announcement made by organisers last week, Thompson-Herah was expected to clash with compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sha’Carri Richardson, and Marie-Josee Ta over the 100m distance.

However, earlier this week, when the start list was announced the athlete’s name was nowhere to be seen.  It was a similar situation last weekend, where weeks before, many had expected the athlete to make her season debut at the Gateshead Diamond League meet against Richardson and Fraser-Pryce.

The early season, high stakes Gateshead clash was won by Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, prior to the race Richardson had clocked the season’s fastest time with 10.72.  Thompson-Herah is the second-fastest woman in the world this year with her time of 10.78 seconds.

Fraser-Pryce, the Doha 2019 world champion, ran the 100m for the first time in Gateshead, where she finished fourth in 11.51.  Thompson-Herah, who has a best of 10.70, the same as Fraser-Pryce and Richardson (10.72) are three of the fast women in history over the distance having clocked the joint-fourth and sixth fastest times over the distance.

 

 

After suffering her first defeat of the season, the USA’s Sha Carri Richardson is already putting it behind her and focusing on the future, vowing to always be competitive.

Richardson, who went into Gateshead with the three fastest times in the 100m this season – 10.72, 10.74 and 10.77 – was collared by Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, who sped to victory in 11.35s in rainy, windy and cold conditions.

The headwind was measured at -3.1m/s. The American was well back in 11.44s. She was just ahead of Marie Jose Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast who clocked in at 11.48. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who like Asher-Smith, was running her first 100m of the season, clocked 11.51s for fourth.

Afterwards, a defiant Richardson said: “I'm happy with my race. I'm definitely proud that I was able to execute and now I know what I need to go back and work on and what I need to get better at.

“This won't be the last time that I'm going to line up against these ladies and I want to let the world know and let the ladies know that I'm here to compete just as well as they've done for many years. I'm here to show them what I'm good at. I'm definitely looking forward to running in some sunshine next week in Doha!”

Meanwhile, the victor was ecstatic about the outcome.

“I feel really good. Conditions were far from ideal for sprinting but the most important thing is to come away with a good result and a win and I was very happy to do that. I think all in all today was more of an experience but the only thing that can indicate Tokyo is the Olympic final itself,” she said.

“I want to stay focused, do well and get better from here.”

 

 

 

Reigning Olympic 100m champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah, will not be a part of Sunday’s showdown with compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the fastest woman in the world this season, Sha'Carri Richardson, at the Gateshead Diamond League.

The Jamaicans and the American seemed set for a blockbuster showdown over the distance, having recorded three of the six fastest times in history. 

However, Thompson-Herah is not listed on the start list for the meet and according to reports has pulled out of the event.  There has been no official reason provided for the sprinter’s withdrawal.

The field will, however, still boast plenty of quality, with Great Britain’s fastest woman, Dinah Asher-Smith, and another Jamaican, Natasha Morrison, also set to face the starter.  Morrison has clocked the third-fastest time over the distance this year, having run her personal best of 10.87, in Florida, last month.

According to reports, Thompson-Herah is also registered to face off against Richards at next week’s Doha Diamond League meet, where multiple world medallist Marie-Josée Ta Lou (Ivory Coast) and Nigeria’s national record holder Blessing Okagbare are also expected to be a part of the field.  Thomspon-Herah is the second-fastest woman this season having clocked a time of 10.78 in Florida last month.

The blockbuster women’s 100m clash scheduled for this Sunday, at the Müller Grand Prix Diamond League meet, in Gateshead, will feature three of the six fastest women ever to run over the distance.

In what many predict could be a preview to the Olympic Games later this summer, Jamaican speed queens Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah will finally face red-hot American Sha'Carri Richardson, the early-season favourite, for the first time this year.

Historically, as far as the speed record book is concerned, the early season clash could be one of mammoth proportions.  The trio are not only three of the six fastest women alive, but also the only ones still active on the all-time speed list.

Fraser-Pryce holds the fourth-fastest time ever recorded over the distance at 10.70, set in Kingston, Jamaica, in 2012.  Her compatriot, Thompson-Herah, matched that identical time, at the same venue, in 2016 and is joint-fourth on the list.  Richardson joined the exclusive list last month with her clocking of 10.72, recorded in Florida, making her the sixth-fastest of all time.

The times are only bettered by Marion Jones (10.65), Carmelita Jeter (10.64), and Florence Griffith-Joyner (10.49), a trio of American sprinters who are no longer active.

Richardson has of course set the season marker with her burst of speed last month, but Thompson-Herah is not far behind having registered 10.78 in Clermont.

The trio are, however, not the only big names in the field with Great Britain’s fastest woman Dina Asher-Smith and Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare also set to face the starter.  Another Jamaican, who will also line up in the blocks, Natasha Morrison, is also in fine form this season having recorded the third-fastest time, 10.87, last month in Florida.

In addition to just the times, there will be plenty of pedigree on display, between them Fraser-Pryce and Thompson-Herah have claimed 7 of the last 9 major games 100m Olympics and World Championship titles.  The only exceptions to that dominance being the 2011 World Championships, which was won by Jeter, and the 2017 World Championships, which was won by another American Torrie Bowie.

Also scheduled to take part in the meet are world long jump champion Tajay Gayle, world triple jump silver medallist Shanieka Ricketts, and world shot put silver medallist Danniel Thomas-Dodd.

It is the clash the world has been waiting for and it comes May 23 at the Müller Grand Prix in Gateshead, the first Wanda Diamond League meeting this year.

Is Florence Griffith-Joyner, the greatest female sprinter of all time?

It depends on who you ask.

For many Americans, the late flamboyant American woman who holds the world record in both 100 and 200m, and also won three gold medals at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, is the one. Outside the US, the answer is not as clear as many believe that a certain Jamaican, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion, is in fact the greatest.

This week, Olympian turned coach and broadcaster Ato Boldon might have changed one iconic American’s mind about who is truly the greatest female sprinter of all time.

During his Athletics Live interview on Instagram with Flo-Jo's best friend and two-time Olympic 100m champion Gail Devers on Wednesday, Boldon asked Devers, who she thought was the greatest female sprinter. It was a question posed by a viewer.

‘I’ve got to go with the world-record holder,” said Devers matter-of-factly, after a brief pause. 

Boldon, a big fan of Griffith-Joyner, replied: “I get into trouble with that because I have to broadcast with my head and not my heart. I can’t have any allegiance and I look at what Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has done. Two gold medals and a bronze in back-to-back-to-back; the four world titles, more than anybody else, male or female. I know she doesn’t have the world record, obviously, but if you go ‘Tom Brady is the greatest or (basketball legend) Bill Russell or whoever is the greatest; it’s based on the championships,” Boldon opined while Devers nodded in agreement.

Boldon, who like Griffith-Joyner attended UCLA and admitted that he worshipped the ground she walked on, also reasoned that Flo-Jo only had one great season when she set world records in both the 100m and 200m and then went to the Olympics and won the sprint double and the 4x100m relay and picked up a silver behind Russia in the 4x400m.

“Yes, it was the greatest year ever, but it was the one year,” he said.

Devers then responded saying “I get what you’re saying” but Boldon continued to reinforce his point pointing out that if anyone asked Mike Powell, who has held the long jump world record for 30 years now, who is the greatest long jumper, he would say Carl Lewis “without even thinking about it.”

Lewis won long jump gold in four consecutive Olympic Games – 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996.

But the Trinidadian was not done. He added that most people would never consider Wayde van Niekerk, the 400m world record holder, the greatest 400m runner of all time over Michael Johnson.

“You have to apply the rules the same way,” Boldon said. “Most world record holders aren’t necessarily the greatest.”

Confronted by the veracity of the points Boldon made, Devers relented.

“You’re right, you’re right,” she agreed. “It’s as you said, it’s the consistency, it’s how many titles, can they come back-to-back. I have to give some second thought to that. You’re right.”

 

 

 

 

Jamaica Olympic champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah, coasted to victory in the women’s 100m at the Velocity Fest meet, at the National Stadium on Saturday.

Thompson-Herah crossed the line in section one of the event, in a time of 11.21, well clear of Sprintec’s Remona Mitchell who was second in 11.35.  Thompson-Herah’s MVP teammate Natasha Morrison took third overall after winning section 2 in a time of 11.41.

In the men’s equivalent, former world record holder Asafa Powell was forced to settle for third spot after crossing the line in 10.48.  MVP’s Nigel Stewart took the top spot with a time of 10.39, just ahead of Sprintec’s Rodney Brendon who clocked 10.40.

In the women’s 200m, decorated multiple champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the event after crossing the line in 22.66, winning section 2 ahead of Stephanie McPherson who was second in 22.90.  Section one winner Brianna Lyston was third overall in 23.28.

The men’s equivalent was won by Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes who destroyed the competition after recording 20.14.  Sprintech’s Romario Williams was second in 20.59, with Petersfield Antonio Williams third in 20.70.

In the women’s 400m, first place went to Sprint Tech’s Ronda Whyte, who finished first in 51.28.  Second place went to UWI Mona’s Candice McCleod (51.56) with Roneisha McGregor taking third in 52.06.

Track and field coach and broadcaster Ato Boldon believes the USA’s Sha’ Carri Richardson is now favoured to break Jamaica’s stranglehold on the Olympic 100m title this summer, following her jaw-dropping 100m run at the Miramar South Florida Invitational on Saturday.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, in her first public comments on the indecision to resume sporting activities, has moved to dismiss recent suggestions that the authorities should hold off on granting permission to prospective promoters of sporting events applying to the Director of Sports in the Sports Ministry with a view of having their events held.

Her decision to make her views known comes in the wake of an opinion put forward recently by opposition spokesman on health Dr Morais Guy, who says he fears that giving the go-ahead for the resumption of sporting events could cause a significant rise in the number of Covid-19 infections across the island.

“In light of the new spike in numbers, I would recommend that caution be taken to hold off for some time longer. With the current numbers and the resumption of sporting [disciplines] in whatever form there is, the likelihood of a greater spread considering the numbers we have now, plus the interaction of players with each other and the community,” Dr Guy told the Jamaica Observer.

Jamaica has recorded close to 2000 new cases in recent days prompting Prime Minister Andrew Holness to announce new restrictions on movement across the island, especially at night.

However, Fraser-Pryce, who is preparing to compete in her final Olympic Games this summer, believes such a move is not progressive and said as much in a lengthy post on her Facebook account on Saturday.

“I note that there has been some push back to the recent decision by the relevant authorities to give permission for the resumption of sporting activities on a case-by-case basis and without spectators,” said Fraser-Pryce who has yet to open her season because of the cancellation of several track and field meets in recent weeks.

“Some stakeholders in the national conversation have bluntly said that in light of the Covid-19 cases spike in Jamaica, the Government should hold off on granting permission to prospective Sporting events holders applying to the Director of Sports in the Sports Ministry with a view of having their events held.

“While I do not wish to make a political statement, from a point of view of good sense and logic, the perspective that the process established, whereby permission for the holding of sporting events should be suspended, is a perspective not shared by the majority of invested parties.”

The four-time world champion and national 100m record holder argued that there is no evidence that sporting events that have no spectators in a stadium or where spectators are socially distant, have contributed to, or are likely to contribute to, a further spike in Covid-19 cases locally.

She added that she does not believe it is beyond the country to separate elite athletes and limit the number of competitors for each track meet while at the same time allowing for some meaningful resumption of events.

She cited the Velocity Fest meets held at the height of the pandemic last year when no athlete who participated tested positive for the virus.

“We should build on this and pave the way for more sporting events to be had in a safe manner,” Fraser-Pryce opined, adding that the reluctance to resume sporting events is having deleterious effects on athletes and sporting organizations.

“I urge the authorities to bear in mind that many participants in the sports industry in Jamaica cannot go overseas to compete. The mandatory two-week quarantine requirement upon return is not feasible and there's no funding mechanism in place to assist those who are struggling badly due to a lack of finances,” she said.

“I also believe there is room to call for genuine additional support to be given to assist the athletes and other participants in the sports industry.”

She said that while she is aware of the risks associated with competing while the pandemic stiff rages, Fraser-Pryce noted that athletes competing in a controlled environment are safer than those going about their regular daily pursuits. 

“Our regular day-to-day activities are way riskier in terms of exposure when compared to a controlled environment, where tests are conducted and participants in the industry - including those who engage in contact sports - are allowed to proceed with their discipline,” she said.

“Additionally, proper structures, which include testing and adherence to protocols, have also been put in place overseas to accommodate the hosting of contact sports including boxing and football, among others.

“I am confident it is not beyond us here in Jamaica to put in place similar systems to limit the risk of Covid-19 spread while at the same time allowing for the reasonable resumption of the sports industry which has contributed so much to Brand Jamaica.

“It is my view that in the interest of the athletes, along with the national and global psyche and the thousand who depend on the industry, we should strongly resist talk of "holding off" on the process allowed for a formal but control and safe resumption of sporting events.”

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