Captains Paul Palmer Jr and Leon Johnson of the Jamaica Scorpions and Guyana Jaguars, respectively, are both expressing confidence heading into their WICB First-Class Championship top-of-the-table clash at Sabina Park today.Undefeated Jaguars are putting their 100 per cent win record on the line against second-place Scorpions, who after a defeat in their opener away to Barbados Pride, has rebounded to post three straight wins.”It should be a very good game of cricket,” said Palmer, whose team will be going for three from three at Sabina Park this season.”We are at home, and whenever we are at home, we are always confident, and put our best foot forward.”Scheduled for a 10 a.m. the encounter will see Jamaica attempting to build on victories over Trinidad and Tobago Red Force, Windward Islands Volcanoes and Leeward Islands Hurricanes.
Good experience DES MOINES, Iowa, (CMC): Grenada’s Olympic champion Kirani James produced a world-leading time to win the men’s 400 metres at the Drake Relays here on Friday night, and continued his fine start to the new international season. The 23-year-old stormed to 44.08 seconds – the second fastest time ever run in the first four months of a year – to edge American nemesis, former World and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt, who was timed at 44.22. James’s fellow countryman Bralon Taplin claimed third in 44.92. “It shows that I’m on course to do some great things so long as I don’t take anything for granted and keep on doing the right things for the rest of this season,” James said following the performance. “I’m happy with the time, I’m happy with the performance, and I’m just happy to be here at Drake. I always have a good experience here, so all is well.” On a chilly day at Drake Stadium, James showed little negative effects from the weather. Running out of lane five, with Merritt in lane four, James held a narrow lead heading into the final 100 metres and managed to hold on despite Merritt nearly pulling level. The win came against the backdrop of James’s impressive 44.36 run at the Bahamas Invitational in Nassau two weeks ago, and sent a strong warning to his rivals, with attention already on the Summer Olympics in Rio. James, who dominated the London 2012 event but finished third at the Beijing World Championships last year, said he was much more prepared for this year’s showpiece. “Now is a lot different. I understand the event a lot better. I know the athletes more,” he said. “It’s a lot more technical … people look out for you to perform, and that’s part of it.”
Warren Weir is no stranger to pulling a surprise.In 2012, not many persons expected him to make Jamaica’s team to the Olympic Games in London much less win a bronze medal in the 200m there. He would later show it was no fluke with a silver medal upgrade at the World Championships in Moscow a year later.Two years later, Weir again finds himself in a position where not much is really expected of him, but, according to the 25-year-old sprinter, that’s just the way he likes it.To be fair, Weir has not had the best of seasons so far and, in fact, last year wasn’t exactly anything to shout about either. In fact, the sprinter has only posted one sub-20 seconds time in the 200m since the start of last season and has not looked anything close to his 19.79 seconds calibre.Nonetheless, Weir says he is not too bothered with his form coming into these championships and revels in the opportunity to again prove his doubters wrong, as he gears up to compete at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China.”Whenever there is doubt towards me, it gives a platform to prove them wrong, and that gives you a boost and an energy to strive towards that, and I have definitely been proving people wrong since day one,” said Weir yesterday. “I’m just looking forward to the competition and to putting together a good performance for myself and my country.TOUGH INDIVIDUAL”I am a tough individual. I am very focused and it doesn’t matter what’s happening around me, I will definitely go for what is out there and I wont let any other person’s times get me scared. I always do my best and try to get on the podium,” added a defiant Weir.The sprinter pointed to a knee issue after the Commonwealth Games last year and another setback ahead of this year’s New York Diamond League as reasons for his flat months but believes he has enough in him to make an impression inside the Bird’s Nest.”It’s not so much of a concern because it’s not like I had only one sub-20 time while being injury free. I have had a lot of injuries so I’m not worried about it. I know when everything is fixed we will see a lot more sub-20s,” Weir said. “I’d like to think that I am at a good enough place where I can go out there and put on a wonderful performance after a long season … . It has been a bittersweet season, but I’m sticking there.”Weir may not always get the respect he deserves, but in times of trouble he almost always seem to answer all the questions around him.”Respect is earned, but sometimes even when you deserve it a lot of people don’t show you that respect. I know that I am respected in some areas of the sport so I’m good with that. Respect is being shown from the people who need to show it,” said Weir.Another medal at a major championships will not only again defy the odds, but may also take his respect to greater email@example.com
BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE REVIEWSCHELSEA 3 SUNDERLAND 1GOALS:- CHELSEA: IVANOVIC 5th; PEDRO 13th; OSCAR PEN 50th. SUNDERLAND: BORINI 52nd.Chelsea began life without JosÈ Mourinho by punishing a poor Sunderland at Stamford Bridge. The Blues, watched by incoming caretaker boss Guus Hiddink, took an early lead through Branislav Ivanovic and added a second before the break through Pedro. Oscar’s penalty confirmed the win, though Fabio Borini replied in the second half.EVERTON 2 LEICESTER CITY 3GOALS:- EVERTON: LUKAKU 32nd; MIRALLAS 87th. LEICESTER: MAHREZ PEN 27th, PEN 65th; OKAZAKI 69th.Leicester ensured they will be top of the Barclays Premier League at Christmas by beating Everton at Goodison Park. Riyad Mahrez scored the first of two penalties after Ramiro Funes Mori held back Shinji Okazaki. Romelu Lukaku levelled, but Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard tripped Jamie Vardy to allow Mahrez to convert from the spot a second time. Okazaki scored a third for the Foxes, who held on despite Kevin Mirallas’ late strike.MANCHESTER UNITED 1NORWICH CITY 2GOALS:- UNITED: MARTIAL 66th. VILLA: JEROME 38th; TETTEY 54th.The pressure is on Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal after his team were humbled by struggling Norwich at Old Trafford. Norwich took the lead in the first half through Cameron Jerome. It got worse for the home side in the second half, as Jerome broke clear to feed Alex Tettey, who netted from close range. Anthony Martial pulled a goal back, but United’s winless run is now six games, while Norwich are out of the drop zone.NEWCASTLE UNITED 1ASTON VILLA 1GOALS:- NEWCASTLE: COLOCCINI 38th. VILLA: AYEW 61st.A wonderful second-half strike from Jordan Ayew earned Barclays Premier League bottom-club Aston Villa a valuable point at Newcastle. Ayew drove into the top corner from inside the area to cancel out Fabricio Coloccini’s close-range opener. Both sides had chances to win in the closing stages, with Newcastle striker Georginio Wijnaldum and Villa’s Rudy Gestede having shots saved.SOUTHAMPTON 0TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2GOALS:- TOTTENHAM: KANE 40th; ALLI 43rd.Harry Kane scored on his 100th Tottenham appearance, as they moved into the Barclays Premier League top four with victory at struggling Southampton. Kane broke through the Saints’ defensive line and finished coolly for a 10th goal in his past 10 games. Soon after, Dele Alli benefitted from some lax defending to score from close range and put Spurs firmly in control.STOKE CITY 1CRYSTAL PALACE 2GOALS:- STOKE: BOJAN PEN 76th. PALACE: WICKHAM PEN 45th; LEE 88th.Lee Chung-yong came off the bench to claim an 88th-minute winner for Crystal Palace at Stoke, leaving the Eagles level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham. Connor Wickham’s penalty gave Palace a first-half lead, but after Stoke levelled from the spot when Damien Delaney was punished for handball and Bojan stepped up to dispatch his fourth goal of the season, Lee found the net with a 30-yard shot which sailed past Jack Butland on 88 minutes.WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1 AFC BOURNEMOUTH 2GOALS:- WBA: McAULEY 79th. BOURNEMOUTH: SMITH 52nd; DANIELD PEN 87th.Charlie Daniels’ late penalty earned Bournemouth a third successive Barclays Premier League victory at the expense of West Brom, who finished with nine men.The Baggies were a man down in the 34th minute when James McClean was shown red for scything down Adam Smith.The Cherries took the lead when Smith fired in low from 20 yards, before Gareth McAuley equalised with a header. Daniels crashed home the winner three minutes from time, before Salomon Rondon saw red for a clash with Dan Gosling.
Add Russell ‘Midnight’ Thompson and his vivid story-telling – fiction with a sprinkling of fact – the five- or six-strong Wynter clan, all representing the black and green, and the call was like that following a Sir Garfield Sobers extra-cover drive – “not a man moved”. They all craved their ‘I was there’ status and had to be seen in the place – talk about distraction as the distant sound of a gunshot, piercing the air at intervals, indicating the start of yet another, seemingly irrelevant race. There was a cost for all this. Those highly anticipated races went by without the visual input of some of the most ardent followers of the sport. Thank you, ‘Stewie’ Spencer for passing by and bringing the group to attention as to what had been missed. It was a good day, and the hospitality of the homesters was first-class. It only needs a little fine-tuning to get the event in more spectator-friendly mode. Calabar has a tradition of excellence in the sport to uphold. Wint and McKenley started the trend, and those now in the limelight are carrying the baton, protected by a host of well-wishers. There can be no better way to concretise the tradition of the ‘Utmost for the Highest’. They were summoned to perform last Saturday, and the response was tumultuous. “Here, Sir.” Good job, Calabar! Saturday, January 23, 2016, was a significant day in the already richly endowed history of Jamaica’s track and field. It signalled the dawn of a new day in which Calabar High School hosted a track meet on a home-based, synthetic surface. The event was in honour of two of its athletic products who have etched their names in the annals of the sport around which the country has received its most global acclaim. That such prominence, privilege, and prestige should have gone to Red Hills Road was indeed fitting, given that school’s meaningful contribution to the process. The celebrants, Herb McKenley and Dr Arthur Wint, stand as the first two Jamaicans to record medals at the highest echelon of the sport. These came at the 1948 London Olympics when the country, not then an independent nation, huddled under the Union Jack, singing God Save the King, took gold (400m) and silver (800m) from Wint’s efforts, and silver (400m) from the McKenley performance. As if by a divine mandate, with the demands of history not to be denied, Saturday last was to feature a spectacle that could not have been accorded a more appropriate stage. On display, opening the year of the XXXI Olympiad, were two home-grown athletes of a more recent generation, both given to top world ranking at their age levels in the 400m, similar to Wint and McKenley. Javon Francis and Christopher Taylor have made their announcement that they would be factors to be considered when up against their global competitors. Francis took the spotlight at the 2013 Moscow World Championships after a spine-tingling anchor run in the 4x400m relay that plucked a silver medal out of nothing. His 44.00 split called to mind the gold medal, world record-breaking leg of 44.6 at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics by the undisputed great, Herb McKenley. Taylor ran to Jamaica’s only gold at the World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia, last year, registering 45.27, not only a national youth (Under-18) record, but the second-best ever for a 15-year-old. If ever the healthy tradition was on the doorstep of repeat greatness, the time must be now – the prospect of it being cemented, mouth-watering. That the raison d’Ítre for being present was sidelined is testimony to the atmosphere and ambiance that was the Red Hills facility on the day. The presence of old stagers in local scholastic sport, representing the administrative, supporter or on-the-field cohort, detracted somewhat from the competition, however enticing. This columnist, in several aborted attempts to take up trackside viewing advantage, was thwarted by absorbing conversation with such sporting stalwarts as Bernie Panton of a former local governing body fame and a Calabar old-timer; ‘Bowla’ Morant of mid-60’s Fortis football glory; and Devon ‘Stone Age’ Smith, who they all acknowledged to have been a fierce middle-order batsman at the host school. NOT A MAN MOVED
It was a family affair at Vere Technical High School yesterday as athletes from that institution dominated the first staging of the Veronica Campbell-Brown Foundation 5K, with Britnie Dixon and Kimoy Cohen being crowned the respective female and male champions. Campbell Brown, who was present at the meet along with her husband, Omar, and manager Claude Bryan, was very pleased with the support. “We are grateful for the support as it is the first one, and we will build on it for next year. The main thing we are doing is for two reasons: for charity to help the VCB Foundation to help with girls in high school, and for athletes in building a healthy lifestyle,” said Campbell-Brown. As part of her work in philanthropy, among other things, four students are afforded scholarships through the VCB Foundation each year. The race started early in the morning at the school’s main gate, as the athletes journeyed to the Wembley Football Club main gate and back. Dixon stopped the clock at 19 minutes, 13.40 seconds, while Cohen covered the course in 17:09.75. The top-three finishers among the females were all Vere Technical students, as Kris-Ann Plummer, 19:17.64, and Alithia Ferron, 19:31.93, were second and third, respectively. Among the males, second place went to veteran road-race runner Horace Burey, who represented Island Smile, in 17:18.74, while third went to Vere Technical athlete Oshane Lightbody in 18:31.93. On hand at yesterday’s staging were several executive members of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association in assistant secretary Marie Tavares, committee member Maxine Brown and recorder Ewan Scott.
It might sound paradoxical, but in a strange way, Twenty20 cricket has emerged as destroyer and saviour of West Indies cricket.Destroyer in the sense that it has effectively captured the hearts and passion of an entire generation of regional players, who could not care less about playing traditional Test cricket, saviour in the sense that the very same heart and passion for Twenty20 cricket by the modern players have led to us producing some of the best Twenty20 players in the world, which has resulted in the West Indies now having one of, if not the best, Twenty20 teams in the world.It is absolutely refreshing to see the West Indies entering an international tournament as genuine contenders. I will go even further by stating that the West Indies should win the World T20. The 15-man squad heading to India is full of tried and proven matchwinners.I have counted at least 10 individuals in that squad who, on any given day, can single-handedly win a game against any opposition. I venture to say there are more potential and proven matchwinners in this West Indies squad than in any other squad, including India, playing at home, and the powerful Australians.CLICKING ON ALL CYLINDERSThe objective must be for the entire team to click on all cylinders and produce overall matchwinning performances game after game but, realistically, that is not going to happen. The more realistic ask is for at least one of our stars to put their hand up and produce one match-winning performance in every single game.It should be an understanding in that West Indies dressing room that at least one of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Darren Sammy, Lendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels, Samuel Badree, Jerome Taylor, Sunil Narine and Kierron Pollard, pending availability, be obligated, by professional responsibility, to produce at least one big performance per game.The eligibility of Narine will be the key. The psychological impact of having our mystery bowler in the team will be immeasurable, even if the adjustments to his bowling action affect his execution even at 60 or 70 per cent Narine will still be a real threat.Pollard has been out of cricket for a while, but he is such a physical specimen and natural athlete, a perfect fit for this explosive format of the game, his reintroduction could very well be seamless. Worst case scenario should these two are unavailable, there is the emerging Carlos Brathwaite and Johnson Charles, a member of the 2012 winning team, both waiting in the wings.I have said and written some mean things about West Indies cricket in recent times, all justified and fair, in a context where the Windies continue to embarrass the people of the region in the longer versions of the game. I am now a full convert from traditional Test and ODI cricket to T20, as far as the West Indies team in concerned.The importance of winning this particular title, at this point in time, is crucial for the West Indies cricket brand. The sooner we realise and admit that we are a hopeless and pathetic embarrassment in Test and ODIs, it should be clearer to all that winning the World T20 would mean so much more to the region and its people, as they yearn to stand tall and proud again. GO WINDIES!
Dania Bogle, Senior Gleaner Writer FANS OF athletics may have heard the name Paul Francis as the master strategist behind Jamaica’s gold medal in the women’s 4x400m at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Beijing, last August. Others know him as the younger brother of MVP Track and Field Club head coach, Stephen Francis and one of the club’s founders. Athletes at the University of Technology (UTech) know Francis as head coach of the women’s track team and for four years between 2010 and 2014 their classmate. Francis was 44 years old when he decided to go back to university. He had started in the 1980s at the University of the West Indies and dropped out after a year. He was accepted to do a degree in Business Administration at UTech in 2005 and opted out; but on February 2, 2010, what started out as a minor car accident, would change Francis’ life forever. While travelling on Highway 2000, he had a minor accident and when he left the vehicle to inspect the damage, was hit by a passing car which crushed his right leg. That exacerbated an injury Francis had suffered in 2008. “One day after training, I was fooling around on the track with a football and twisted my ankle and it just …broke. So I was walking around with a noticeable limp from two years before,” Francis told The Gleaner. After three weeks in hospital he was told his leg had developed an infection, and would have to be amputated. Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association president, Dr Warren Blake, one of the island’s most noted orthopaedic surgeons, conducted the operation. “Of course, I would have felt a deep remorse on hearing that I would have had to lose half of one of my legs and like any normal human being, I buss a bawl,” he shared. NO LOOKING BACK “After that bawl, never again have I looked back and regretted or thought that I am disadvantaged because I have a disability.” Francis, an IAAF Level IV certified sprint and hurdles coach, and Area Technical Official, was fitted with a prosthetic leg that August. The amputation made him reevaluate his position. “I did not see myself being able to demonstrate a high knee drill or a start to any athlete, and I thought that would somehow reduce my premium as a coach, and I thought it would be an excellent idea to ensure I try to expand my knowledge in terms of the administration of the sport because sport is my passion. I didn’t want to be somebody who had to sit down and rely on people,” he said. In 2010, a long-time dream of local track and field icon Dennis Johnson, who was for many years head of sports at UTech, the Bachelor of Science in Sport Science would come to fruition. “So as soon as I heard it was on, I jumped at it,” Francis, who turns 50 in April, said. There were days when Francis, who graduated with a degree in Sports Management, would go to classes on crutches as his prosthetic limb caused soreness. “Each day, I got a little stronger in terms of how to manage my own body. I had years of coaching experience and every sporting event doesn’t need only players, but it also needs strategists who are going to guide or coach the team. So oftentimes I played that role but at no point did I refuse myself from any practical activity because of my disability. I took part in every one of them,” he said. Being a full-time coach and student can be difficult, but Francis said difficulty is relative. “I thought I was blessed. It was simply a thing of managing your time. I have always considered myself a realist. In most situations I prefer to see a bottle as half full rather than half empty, and one of my most dominant philosophies is that no matter how bad a situation you think you are in there are many who are worse and they have survived it, therefore you can too.” Francis works very closely with his brother, and while he is the more celebrated, has nothing but great love and respect for the job his brother is doing. FIRST ATHLETE He was Stephen’s first athlete as he coached him in the discus while he was at Wolmer’s. “I have zero reservation about the kudos and recognition Stephen gets. I am his biggest admirer. He is bright. He is working at his passion and he uses all his available resources to ensure that he keeps improving at what he does. I feel a bit ashamed sometimes when people big me up because I think that he deserves most or all of the praise,” he said. Since graduating, Francis has started his own events planning business and is enthusiastic about his future. “You can either choose to lie down and die or you can choose to get up and live. I chose to live,” he said.
SYDNEY, Australia (CMC):Kieron Pollard produced a season-best knock to hand Carlos Brathwaite’s Sydney Thunder a solid 77-run defeat here yesterday and end the reigning champions’ dream of reaching the play-offs of the Big Bash League.The big-hitting Pollard slammed 47 off 22 deliveries to help the previously bottom-placed Adelaide Strikers rack up 178 for five off their 20 overs at the Sydney Showground Stadium.Needing to win to have any chance of reaching the next round, Sydney were then undermined by New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, who snatched six for 11, as the hosts tumbled to an embarrassing 101 all out in the 16th over.bottom of standingsThe defeat left Thunder as one of four teams on six points but bottom of the standings courtesy of net run rate, following their preliminary-round campaign.Strikers, already eliminated, moved up to fifth on six points.Sent in, Strikers benefited from a top score of 65 off 40 balls from opener Ben Dunk, who put on 92 for the second wicket with captain Brad Hodge, whose 39 came from 32 balls.Pollard, arriving at the crease in the 13th over, smashed five sixes to give the visitors momentum down the stretch.Brathwaite, in his third game for Thunder, finished with one for 33 from his four overs of medium pace.In reply, the hosts were cruising at 60 for one in the eighth over but suffered a sudden collapse to lose their last eight wickets for 41 runs in the space of 45 deliveries.Captain Shane Watson struck 39 and opener Kurtis Patterson, 29, in a second-wicket partnership worth 58 but were the only two batsmen to reach double figures.Brathwaite, batting at number five, faced just two deliveries before he was bowled by Sodhi in the 12th over at 81 for four.Pollard, who shared the new-ball, picked up one for 36 from three overs of slow medium.
Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer An agreement between the Government’s team and representatives from Supreme Ventures Limited has finally been reached in the divestment of Caymanas Park following a two-day meeting. An all-day meeting on Thursday and shorter deliberations on Friday brought a close to the matter, this after two recent missed deadlines. Arthur Williams, the man charged to lead the Government’s interest in the discussions confirmed the development in an interview with The Gleaner. “All matters have now been resolved following an all-day meeting with Supreme Ventures on Thursday and a much shorter meeting on Friday,” Williams said, speaking between flights from Miami en route to Washington DC on Saturday afternoon. The meetings were held at the Development Bank on Oxford Road in New Kingston.