Though they weren’t there to collect their male and female awards in person at Saturday night’s sixth annual Scotiabank/JAAA annual Golden Cleats awards ceremony inside the Chinese Benevolent Association building (CBA) on Old Hope Road, track megastars Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce gushed with pride and expressed gratitude to organisers Scotiabank and Jamaicans, following their wins. The decorated sprinters spoke via video recordings. Sprint king Usain Bolt, who last won the award in 2013, upstaged the big shot putter, O’Dayne Richards, who had won the award in 2014. Bolt won three gold medals at this year’s IAAF World Championships, including the sprint double under trying circumstances due to injuries which limited his training time. “For me it feels great and it makes me want to work even harder,” he said. “What makes this win special for me … it was a tough, trying season with lots of ups and downs. This one means a lot more because I put in a lot of hard work to get back to where I needed to be so I could win this award, so for me it’s a big one,” said Bolt. He thanked his “coach, close teammates, friends and management team … fans, the ones who stood by me through the season. I will try to do my best and try to continue conquering the world and just ‘bigging up’ Jamaica,” he added. Decorated female sprinter, Fraser-Pryce, who outclassed her 100m rivals at the Beijing World Championships’ women’s final, and who also copped the 4×100-metre gold medal, staved off stiff competition from hurdles World champion Danielle Williams and 200m silver medallist Elaine Thompson, among others. “Winning the JAAA Golden Cleats Award, it’s a wonderful feeling for me. It shows hard work and just being committed to what I set out to do in the year and being able to accomplish that and being rewarded for that accomplishment is wonderful, so I would like to say thank you to each and every one who voted for me to win this award,” Fraser-Pryce noted. “I will be representing the country to the max.” Among other awardees were veteran MVP track and field coach, Stephen Francis, who is based at the University of Technology, for Coach of the Year, while Outstanding Performance of the Year went to the women’s 4x400m gold medal winning team from the Beijing World Championships. Novlene Williams-Mills, Christine Day, Stephenie-Ann McPherson and Shericka Jackson were the members. The award was collected by Day. The prestigious Howard Aris Award went to Edwin Allen High’s Deamar Gayle, who excelled in a non-traditional event, where he dominated in the discus and shot put at the ISSA Boys and Girls’ Champs, CARIFTA and Pan Am Games. Fifteen-year-old Christopher Taylor took the Best Youth Athlete of the Year Award for his dazzling 45.27 seconds at the World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia, the fastest time ever in his age group. Shanice Love of Excelsior High School won the Scotiabank-sponsored Howard Aris Scholarship, awarded to the Jamaican student-athlete with the top grade point average, and for being a discus bronze medallist at the Junior Pan Am Championships. The scholarship is valued at $250,000. Scotiabank’s vice-president of asset management, Lissant Mitchell, said: “Today we celebrate sport and more importantly our athletes. Let me just say what a pleasure it is to be associated with you. I am sure I speak on behalf of every Jamaican when I say you give me goosebumps every time. Each time you take the track, it is an euphoric experience that stops the entire country and leaves us all in a great frame of mind.” BEST YOUTH ATHLETE
Both men then tried to stamp their authority on the fight, and there was an exciting exchange over the last 20 seconds of the round, which was a signal to spectators that they were in for a fistic treat. And so it was. The excitement continued into the second round as a confident and sometimes cocky Gardener scored repeatedly with hard punches to the head and body. Lewis had his moments of ascendancy, but it was Gardener who scored consistently and methodically in the third round, which produced a lot of action and had spectators on their feet cheering wildly as the tempo of the fight increased. Things reached a crescendo in the fourth round as Gardener let loose with a barrage of punches. Lewis was not able to keep him at bay and he was hurt in this round. After a quick burst of two-fisted action from Gardener, Lewis seemed ready to fall and would have quite likely hit the canvas if he had not been caught up in the ropes. Referee Owen Nelson ruled this a knock-down, however, and gave Lewis an eight count. Gardener was all over him at the bell. When Gardener came out for the fifth and final round, he was more conservative and appeared winded. This was not surprising, however, as it was the first time that he had gone beyond three rounds. Lewis was not able to capitalise on this, however, and Gardener was able to end the fight on cruise control, and a with a victory neatly tucked away in his pocket. There was one amateur bout on the card which saw Samuel Grant of Sugar Olympic Gym scoring a points victory over Collel Hogg from Boys’ Town. Hard-hitting Michael ‘The Wasp’ Gardener moved one step closer to his goal of being the 2016 Wray and Nephew Contender champion when he scored a brilliant victory on points over his more experienced rival, Ramel ‘Sub Zero’ Lewis, at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium on Wednesday night. It was a unanimous decision as Judge Ransford Burton scored the fight 49-45, Laurence Neufville 49-46, and Peter Richards 50-45. This was easily the most exciting fight in the competition so far, and spectators had a lot to cheer about. Both men had signalled beforehand that they would be throwing a lot of punches, and they kept their word. The action started immediately after the signal to start was given, and it was Lewis who landed the first decisive punches. Gardener retaliated very quickly, however, and three jabs followed by a hook to the body sent the signal to Lewis that he was in for a hard night. The Gardener camp had something to think about before the round ended as he was cut over the left eye by a punch. The doctor examined it and ruled that it was nothing serious. EXCITING EXCHANGE
WON’T FEEL OUT OF PLACE THE Mico University College has strengthened its netball programme for the upcoming season. One of the country’s most talented netballers, national goal shooter Jhanielle Fowler-Reid, has enrolled at that institution for the upcoming academic year. Fowler-Reid who returned to the island recently from the Netball World Cup in Australia will be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in guidance and counselling. Fowler-Reid will team up with two members of the team who were in Australia – goal defence Vangelee Williams and centre Nicole Dixon. Assistant coach of the Sunshine Girls, Annette Daley, is the head coach of the Mico University team. Fowler-Reid who plays for Southern Steel in the ANZ Netball Championships in Australia will add vast experience to a Mico team which has been very consistent in intercollegiate netball for the past six years. Fowler-Reid was delighted about the chance to pursue her degree and playing netball at the Mico. “I am more than overjoyed to know that I will be attending this beautiful and great institution to do my degree in guidance and counselling and also knowing that the Mico family has embraced me,” she said. “The Mico institution itself will not be strange to me as I have had several training sessions there and a few of my teammates at the national level are on the Mico team and I won’t feel out of place,” she added. Fowler-Reid will still turn out for the Southern Steel in the ANZ Netball Championship while enrolled at Mico. “When I am overseas I will be able to study online and there are persons both here and overseas who will be willing to help me,” said Fowler-Reid when asked how her overseas engagements will affect her studies at Mico.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, (CMC): Captain Darren Sammy says West Indies were always confident they could defend 162 at the R. Premadasa Stadium, especially drawing on the experience from the final of the Twenty20 World Cup staged at the venue three years ago. The Caribbean side beat Sri Lanka for the first time on the current tour on Wednesday when they pulled off a 23-run victory in the second and final Twenty20 International here. Sammy said the Windies were cognisant of the fact that they beat Sri Lanka here in the T20 World Cup final defending an even smaller total. “The par score [here is] 150, and I think 170 has only ever been chased once,” Sammy told a media conference. “When we played the finals here, we scored 130-something and defended it, so that was a reminder for the guys going on to the field in the second half of the game.” He added: “Like I said, we had a good start [and] we controlled the power-play. They didn’t get off to a flyer. “They didn’t get used to one particular bowler. If you notice, the plan was to give one-over spells for the bowlers, and it worked, and we kept on taking wickets every time they looked like getting a partnership. So that was the key for us.” The victory for West Indies gave them a share of the series after they lost the opening T20 in Kandy by 30 runs on Monday. More important, it was their first win over Sri Lanka on tour and would have served as a boost for flagging morale, especially after having lost every game in the Test and one-day series. “It was good to end the series on a winning note. I think you could see the difference today after playing the first game, which we still thought we could have won, but we were coming from a long break from international cricket, but it shows how quickly we could learn and you could see it was a much more professional effort,” Sammy said. Charles and Fletcher put on 62 for the first wicket, and following a middle order slump, Ramdin struck an unbeaten 34 in a 41-run, fifth-wicket stand with Bravo, who stroked a run-a-ball 31. West Indies failed to find acceleration at the death and finished on 162 for six off their 20 overs, but Sammy said Sri Lanka’s seamers had to be commended for their excellent bowling later on. “They bowled really, really well at the end of the innings, but the work done by Charles and Fletcher at the top gave us that cushion, even if they bowled some good overs. “The key was to bat around Bravo, and I thought he and Ramdin stepped up the pace a little bit, and at the end of the day, 160 was enough to get the job done.”
Managing one of the country’s most successful schoolboy football teams might seem easy but Jamaica College’s (JC) team manager, Ian Forbes, says their past achievements mean nothing coming in to today’s ISSA-FLOW Olivier Shield play-off final against St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS).The ‘dark blues’ of Old Hope Road will be seeking a third Olivier Shield title in the past three years, but Forbes still expects a close battle today.”What has happened before is history; we are dealing with the here and now. We are pretty much fully prepared, just a couple niggling injuries, but we will not get complacent or take STETHS for granted,” Forbes told The Gleaner.Though Forbes’ JC are unbeaten since 2012 in the Olivier Shield, he says there will be no overconfidence or underestimating his rural-based opponents who won the daCosta Cup in 2010, 2013 and this year while dominating the rural area Ben Francis KO competition for six seasons in a row, from 2010 to this year.”I think we can win once we go out and have a good match … we are ready,” Forbes said. “We have been preparing well and we are confident of a win even though they (STETHS) are a good team,” he stressed ahead of today’s rural versus urban match at the Stadium East Field. Kick-off time is 2:30 p.m.Wedderburn, STETHS focus on triple … B2
1:15 p.m. W 60m hurdles Pentathlon 1:45 p.m. M 400m heats 2:15 p.m. W high jump pentathlon 2:25 p.m. W 400m heats 3:05 p.m. M 3000m heats 4:20 p.m. M 60m heats 4:25 p.m. W shot put pentathlon 7:15 p.m. W long jump pentathlon 7:35 p.m. W 60m hurdles heats 8 p.m. M 60m semi-final 9:25 p.m. W 400m semi-final 9:45 p.m. M 400m semi-final 10:10 p.m. W 800m pentathlon 10:30 p.m. W 60m hurdles final 10:40 p.m. M 60m final PORTLAND, USA: Outdoor sprint hurdles champion Danielle Williams and former world record holder Asafa Powell – the headliners on this team – will also headline Jamaica’s start of competition at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Indoor Championships at the Oregon Convention Centre today. Powell, the former 100m world record holder, will compete in the men’s 60m at 4:40 p.m. Jamaica time, while Williams lines up in the 60m hurdles a little over an hour later. The men’s 60m also features Kevaughn Rattray and Odean Skeen, while Williams will be the lone flag bearer in the hurdles. New Mexico Highlands University student Salcia Slack opens up competition for the Jamaicans at 1:15 p.m. in the 60m hurdles pentathlon, where she will face competition from the reigning World silver medallist Brianne Thiesen-Eaton of Canada. Slack is recovering from a bout of pneumonia, which she was only diagnosed with a week ago, but said she doesn’t have a physical injury. “I have no major injuries. I heard a lot of things going around that I have different things. There is nothing like that,” she told The Gleaner. Slack will compete in all five events – 60m hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump, and 800m – today. The 400m for both male and female will be the next event for local athletes. Ricardo Chambers and Fitzroy Dunkley will compete in the men’s event at 1:45 p.m., while Chris-Ann Gordon, Patricia Hall-Pritchett, and Stephenie-Ann McPherson will be in action in the women’s equivalent immediately after. University of Arkansas student Kemoy Campbell lines up in the men’s 3000m at 3:05 p.m. Team coach Maurice Westney had a few ideas on athletes he thought may medal this weekend. “I am not a great predictor, but it looks as if we will get a few medals; our relay teams, Asafa (Powell), Omar (McLeod) and Kemoy Campbell. I don’t know how he will fit in, but I am looking for something from him,” he told The Gleaner. Technical leader Fitz Coleman was more reserved in his predictions. “I think it puts a bit of price on our heads when we talk about expectations. What we want to know is that they’re physically and mentally ready to compete, and they are,” he said. He added: “The athletes were in pretty good stead. They’re looking forward for competition and were just hoping for competition to start to put our Jamaican stamp on it.” Schedule (Jamaicans)
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP): It started badly for Novak Djokovic, who needed 24 serves, six break-point saves and 15 minutes just to hold his first game in the second round. This was not the close-to-invincible Djokovic that fans were used to seeing at the Australian Open, where he has won a record-equalling six titles, including five in the previous six years. In his earliest loss at a Grand Slam tournament since 2008, Djokovic lost 7-6 (8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 yesterday to No. 117-ranked Denis Istomin, a 30-year-old wild-card entry from Uzbekistan.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP): Already a star, Neymar went supernova. Displaying his unique creative talent, speed and audacity, Camp Nou witnessed the blossoming of a true team leader on Wednesday. “The best match of my career,” said Neymar, who scored two goals and set up two more as Barcelona beat Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 in the second leg to become the first team to overhaul a 4-0 loss in the Champions League. “If we believe, if we play our way, it is difficult to stop Barca,” the 25-year-old Brazil striker said. “This can happen only once in a lifetime.” Neymar set the tone, simply willing Barcelona to victory when elimination seemed inevitable. Needing three goals to reach the quarter-finals and with the clock ticking toward the 88th minute, Neymar sparked an incredible late surge by scoring from a free kick and a penalty. He then made the pass that Sergi Roberto tapped in for the dramatic winner in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time. JAW DROPPING It was one of the most jaw-dropping sequences ever seen at Camp Nou – or any other ground. “Nobody believed that we could score six goals, and there they are,” Neymar said. “This victory is like winning a final.” Since his transfer from Brazilian club Santos in 2013, Neymar has helped Barcelona win the Champions League, a pair of Spanish league and Copa del Rey titles, and the Club World Cup. But those achievements came with Neymar acting as a support player to the one-and-only Lionel Messi. That underscores a key detail of Wednesday’s match that is easily overlooked amid the celebrations: Barcelona pulled off this feat without Messi being the best player on the field. Lightning-fast feet Right from kickoff, Neymar bedeviled PSG’s defence with his lightning-fast feet on the left flank. His run into the area resulted in Barcelona’s third goal, converted by Messi from the penalty spot in the 50th after Thomas Meunier stumbled and thrust his shoulder into Neymar as he streaked past. PSG forward Edinson Cavani appeared to snuff out the fight back with his goal a few minutes later. But instead of Messi, it fell to Neymar to conjure up the three goals now needed. And he was up to the task. Neymar’s free kick curled inside the near post of Kevin Trapp’s goal, rekindling the comeback attempt. And when everyone expected Messi to step back up to the penalty spot after Luis Suarez was brought down by Marquinhos, there was Neymar seizing the moment with a second goal. He then delivered the critical pass, a floating forward lob to meet Roberto’s charge into the box. It was Goal No. 6. “No child or adult here at Camp Nou,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said, “will forget this night.”
Vere Technical High’s middle-distance star, Britnie Dixon, will be hoping to add another double to an outstanding Champs career when she competes at next week’s ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships.After winning the 800-1500 metres double a year ago in Class Two, Dixon will be competing for the first time in Class One when competition gets under way next Tuesday at the National Stadium.Unlike last season, however, Dixon will be hunting a 1500m-3000m double.Over the years, she has had some keen and close battles with Holmwood Technical’s Chrisanni May, who she defeated twice last year. Dixon stated in a recent interview that despite doing well over the 800 metres, she does not like the event.”I do not like the 800 metres as I lack speed and I am better at the longer races,” she said.NOT MUCH TO RIVALRYDixon downplayed the rivalry between herself and May. The two will only compete against each other in the 1500 metres.”My focus is just to go to the championships and be among the medals and get points for my team,” she said.Dixon also competed in the 3000 metres Open last year and lost to Hydel High’s Monifa Green. The two will meet again in the event this year, and Dixon believes that she will again be one of her top rivals.”In the 1500m, I see Ashani Robb and Kara Grant of Edwin Allen as my main rivals, while in the 3000m, it’s Kayon Green of Edwin Allen and Hydel’s Monifa Green, ” she said.Dixon, who won both the Under-20 1500m and 3000m at the recent Carifta Trials, paid tribute to her parents.”My parents are my biggest motivators as I always want to make them feel proud. I also owe a lot to my coaches and teammates,” she added.
IT’s not often that trainers at Caymanas Park agree on much. However, injured SHE’S A MANEATER’s absence has had Oaks rivals Dwight Chen and Richard Azan singing the same tune 24 hours ahead of the $3m race for fillies only.”It’s an open race. SHE’S A MANEATER is not in the race, so jockeyship will decide. The three horses are on par,” said Chen, whose MARLENE MY LOVE finished fourth three weeks ago in the 1000 Guineas behind SHE’S A MANEATER, BILINGUAL and Richard Azan’s MONEY MAGNET.”I have no idea what I am doing right now,” Chen said when pressed as to which tactic will be employed by jockey Jevvanne Erwin after Dane Nelson rode contrasting races in the Thornbird Stakes and 1000 Guineas – attempting to make all in the first instance then from off the pace next time out, both resulting in fourth-place finishes.Azan, who will not be at the track to saddle MONEY MAGNET, spoke from Florida but appeared to be sharing a hymnal with Chen.”I think everything will depend on how the jockey rides her. Any good horse running in their age group can get the distance,” Azan said of bred-to-sprint MONEY MAGNET’s chances in the 10-furlong race.”The outcome will depend on how the jockeys ride. For example, I haven’t given Shane (Ellis) any instructions. He will ride the horse the way he believes she should ride her,” Azan added.The third horse in the Oaks picture is Anthony Nunes’ BILINGUAL, who loomed large on SHE’S A MANEATER inside the final furlong of the 1000 Guineas but was left standing when the Wayne DaCosta-trained star changed gears and went on to win by four lengths. Of the star trio left in the race, Nunes’ BILINGUAL appears the best stayer, even though MARLENE MY LOVE is a half-sister to MARK MY WORD, one of the greatest distance horses to have graced Caymanas Park.However, similar to Chen, Azan believes SHE’S A MANEATER’s absence has thrown the race open.”The fillies section always had SHE’S A MANEATER as the superior horse. It was never a level playing field,” Azan said of the super filly’s domination of the Thornbird Stakes and 1000 Guineas.-A.W.