Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

A change of environment in the offseason seems to be paying off for Natalliah Whyte, Jamaica’s 2019 World Championships gold medallist, who last weekend ran a brand new lifetime best in the 100m, which signalled that good things could be in store for the remainder of the season.

In 2019, Whyte who was then training at MVP International in Florida ran a blistering lead-off leg before handing off to 100m gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as Jamaica sped to a gold medal in the 4x100m relay at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Notwithstanding the intervening ‘pandemic year’, 2020, when Covid-19 shut the world down; her confidence boosted by the gold-medal performance in Doha, Whyte began 2021 in fine form running a lifetime best of 11.04 at the Pure Athletics Sprint Elite Meet in Miramar, Florida on May 2. However, for reasons that she is yet to comprehend, Whyte failed to make Jamaica's team to the Tokyo Olympic Games after finishing seventh in the 100m semi-finals at the National Championships last June in a disappointing 11.52.

“I don’t know what happened to be honest. I started the season well but didn’t progress,” she said while revealing that the disappointment of not making the team to Tokyo was hard to take.

“I took not making the team really hard but sometimes we rise, sometimes we fall but you have to know how to turn negatives into positives.”

During the season break, Whyte took the decision to leave the MVP International training group for the Rana Reider-led Tumbleweed group in Jacksonville, hoping that a change of environment might bring about the change she needed.

“I eventually started to take the positives from last season and knew that eventually, I had to leave the past in the past because it already happened and there was nothing I could do but work on the future. So this is a new chapter and I am just trying to work even harder, stay healthy and apply what I’m learning,” she said.

So far, it seems to be working well.

On April 30, in her first 100m of the season at the UNF Invitational in Jacksonville, she ran a lifetime best of 10.97 to follow up on the 22.57 she ran over 200m two weeks before at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational in Gainesville.

“I’m really happy with the results as much as you would imagine,” she told Sportsmax.TV afterwards. “I just want to stay patient, continue to work on the many things I can improve on and see what else God has in store for me.”

She does admit, however, that despite the early success, making the move to Tumbleweed to work with Reider was not an easy decision but she believes it was the correct one.

“I have to say making changes is hard but sometimes changes can be good,” she said.

“I have been working on a lot of things and also learning a lot of new things so hopefully putting the new knowledge together will help me reach the goals I have made for myself for this season.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the only race she has planned for the month of May, Olympic gold medallist Briana Williams ran a season-best 11.03 while finishing second in the 100m at the Pure Athletics Global Invitational in Clermont, Florida.

In what was her first race since suffered a tight hamstring at the USATF Golden Games in Walnut, California on April 16, Williams advanced to the final after winning her preliminary round heat in a wind-assisted 10.96 (5.3m/s).

In the final, she locked strides with Tanisha Terry until late in the race when the American pulled away to win in 10.94.

Maia McCoy was the best of the rest, running 11.20 for third.

Williams, 20, races next in the 100m on June 12 at the USATF Grand Prix in New York before she travels to Jamaica for the National Senior Championships scheduled for June 23-26.

Former Hydel High star sprinter Ashanti Moore, meanwhile, ran out a comfortable winner in the 200m. The powerful sprinter, who now trains at Pure Athletics alongside some of the world’s best sprinters including the 2019 World 200m champion, Noah Lyles, clocked a nippy 23.02 easily defeating Lily Kaden (23.21) and Camile Laus (23.63).

Lyles was equally dominant in the men’s 200m which he won in 19.86 over Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards (20.06) and his brother Josephus Lyles, who ran 20.20, his fastest-ever season opener.

Kimberly Williams jumped a wind-assisted 13.93m to win the triple jump by one centimetre over Naomi Metzer (13.92m). Sineade Gutzmore jumped 13.22m for third.

 

 

Citing the presence of the BVI Olympic Committee and financial support from a shoe sponsor in PUMA, Steve Augustine, President of the British Virgin Island Athletics Association (BVIAA) is not overly concerned about the possibility of athletes from his country switching allegiance to represent the United Kingdom in international competition.

Augustine was speaking recently on the online Talk Sports show with Michael Bascombe in the wake of the success the BVI enjoyed at the recent 49th edition of the Carifta Games held at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

At the Games held from April 16-18, the BVI won four gold medals, two silver and a bronze for one of their best-ever medal hauls. Three of those gold medals were won by the imperious 16-year-old Adaejah Hodge, who was voted the winner of the coveted Austin Sealy Award.

But as is the case with many small island nations, there have been occasions when athletes choose to transfer allegiance to other countries in search of greater stability and support. In the recent past, Olympian Miguel Francis, who was born in Montserrat and resided in Antigua, chose to represent the United Kingdom in international competition.

Augustine said while the issue has surfaced in recent conversations with colleagues, he is not overly concerned.

“It’s something that we have spoken about at a high level, at the association level but we have never had to face that battle,” said Augustine, whose islands boast two of the best athletes in the world – Kyron McMaster and Chantal Malone – in the 400m hurdles and long jump respectively and who still represent the BVI in international competition.

“One of the good things about the BVI is that we have an Olympic Committee existing on the island, the BVI Olympic Committee. There are other territories that are under the umbrella of the United Kingdom that do not and for them, that becomes the obvious option to perhaps leave their home countries and compete for the United Kingdom.

“It’s not something that we have paid much attention to. It is indeed an option of athlete wants to do that, there is a process through World Athletics, you can’t just jump up and compete for the UK tomorrow, there is a process.”

That said, Augustine believes the BVIAA treats its athletes well which in all likelihood makes them want to remain at home.

“We were super happy a few years to be sponsored by PUMA, so our athletes are well geared. They look really nice in their uniforms. Those simple things that probably would have been problematic for us in previous years, are no longer an issue, so the little things that we do do, our athletes are appreciative.

“There is a whole lot more than we can do. Perhaps there is a benefit if they were to compete for the United Kingdom but there is no better place to be a king than at home.”

 

 

 

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have a series of international friendlies scheduled over the next six weeks as the Jamaica Football Federation looks to get the national senior side back on track after a disastrous failed World Cup campaign.

Two international friendlies are to be played in Spain against Catalonia on May 25 and the Basque Country on May 27, respectively.

According to the JFF, these matches will offer opportunities to look at new players, mainly from Europe. These new players, depending on the assessment of the technical staff, could play a role in the short, medium or long term plans.

 Crucial Nations League games against Suriname away on June 4, and then home on June 7, along with a June 14 home game against Mexico will be aimed at maximizing points for the 2023 Gold Cup qualification while the team continues to develop a style of play, improve its FIFA ranking as well as building team chemistry and a winning mentality.

An international friendly against Uruguay is set for June 11.

Olympic champion Hansle Parchment has two wins from two starts so far this season after he strode to victory in the 110m hurdles at the 2022 Drake Relays at the Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday.

Running into a stiff headwind of -2.5m/s, 31-year-old Tokyo Olympic gold medallist, clocked 13.47 to follow up on his victory at Velocity Fest 11 at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday, April 23. Then he ran a fast 13.20, a time that was the world lead for a few hours before the USA’s Devon Allen ran 13.12 in Annapolis.

On Saturday, Parchment who had his first injury-free season in a number of years proved unbeatable in his first race in Des Moines since 2016, holding off the challenge of Jamal Britt, who clocked 13.53 for second place and Barbadian Shane Braithwaite, who was third in 13.69.

In the long jump, the USA’s Kenturah Orji jumped 6.69m to defeat her friend and former roommate Chanice Porter of Jamaica. Porter unleashed a jump of 6.59m to take silver by one centimetre ahead of Ese Brume (6.58m).

Former Hydel and Kansas State high jumper Kimberly Williamson cleared 1.85m for third place in the high jump won by Vashti Cunningham, who soared over 1.90m for victory. Rachel McCoy was second by virtue of a cleaner record on the day having also bowed out at 1.85m.

 

Trinidadian Olympian Tyra Gittens was a winner in the high jump at the LSU Invitational where some Caribbean athletes had podium finishes on Saturday.

Lamara Distin literally continues to soar to new heights each week.

Omar McLeod and Natoya Goule claimed runner-up spots in their respective events as the 2022 Penn Relays came to a conclusion in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia on Saturday.

McLeod, the 2016 Olympic champion, who missed out on a place in the Tokyo Olympics in Japan last year, ran a season-best 13.22 for second place in the Olympic Development Men’s 110m hurdles that was won by the USA’s Devon Allen.

 The American, who ran a world-leading 13.12 in Annapolis a week ago, clocked 13.11 for a commanding victory in what will be his final full season in track and field. Allen, the 2021 Diamond League champion has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in the National Football League (NFL).

Jaylan McConico was a distant third in 13.70.

In the College Men’s 110m hurdles, Phillip Lemonious claimed victory in 13.48. The Jamaican who attends the University of Arkansas was a comfortable winner over Jaheem Hayes (13.57) of Syracuse and Clemson’s Devon Brooks (13.62)

Goule, a finalist in the 800m at the Tokyo Olympics, ran a fast 1:24.09 in the Olympic Development Women’s 600m Elite event but was no match for the Olympic champion Athing Mu of the United States who was a runaway winner in 1:22.74, the fourth-fastest time ever run over the distance.

Nia Atkins of the USA took the final podium spot in 1:25.14.

Jamaica’s Rajay Hamilton lost out in a close battle with Ghana’s Alex Amankwah in the men’s 600m, clocking 1:16.00 to the Ghanian’s 1:15.88. Kameron Jones was third in 1:16.47.

Kristen McGregor opened her 2022 season with an encouraging top-five finish at the Fit Muscle Championships in Mexico last weekend (April 23). The performance sets the tone for what could be an outstanding season for the fitness athlete, who is desirous of competing at the Miss Olympia competition in December. However, she can only achieve this if she can get consistent sponsor support.

McGregor, the winner of the 2020 Miss Olympia Amateur title in the Women's Figure Category, is a former national champion and CAC Champion and is arguably Jamaica’s best female fitness athlete of the modern era. However, it has been a struggle to attract consistent sponsorship support as she strives for her career goals.

“The major challenge I face as a national athlete is corporate sponsorship. I am a bit disappointed with the responses I received for sponsorship requests seeking help to represent my country and hoping that I would have gotten good responses, even given the fact that I am a recipient of the Prime Minister's Youth Award,” lamented McGregor, who is the holder of a Bachelor's degree in Sports Science from the University of Technology (UTech).

“However, I have to give big thanks to the companies that gave their generous support such as EduCom, Geolosndo, VM Group and to the contributing supporters.

“I do hope that going forward I might receive better responses from other corporations and our sporting body. The lack of support and sponsorship can impact my goals to represent Jamaica at the Olympia, as I am unable to cover the expenses related to travel and accommodation to participate in the various competitions, where I can only compete as a professional athlete in my discipline. It is my dream to represent Jamaica at the highest level of bodybuilding.”

That dream has been the fuel driving McGregor's ambitions ever since she transitioned from athletics in 2017 and what sparked her singular focus during the off-season in preparation for 2022.

“It has been nothing but hard work for every show. Hard work and focus are the common denominators for every season prep. l am in the gym every day and on diet for a maximum of 16 weeks during preparation,” she revealed.

That work paid off in Mexico.

“A top-five finish is a great accomplishment, considering the progress from last year, where I also finished in the top five in Puerto Rico Pro, and in the Tampa Pro placing 4th and 11th, respectively. However, for my first show since 2022, finishing in the top five is a great place to finish because I have already started to accumulate points toward the quantifying for the Olympia Competition,” she said.

“Only second through fifth-place finishers for each contest, depending on the tier of the contest can accumulate points. All competitors will have between September 13, 2021, to November 20, 2022, to qualify whether by placement or points for the big show in December, the Olympia held in Las Vegas. That being said, the progress has been going well.”

Too well even. In fact, she worked so hard during the off-season she might have bulked up a tad much.

"Last year was a bit different from this year, as I really didn’t get a chance to train properly for my debut and my first Pro show coming out of winning the Amateur Olympia in December 2020. I contracted the COVID virus which caused me to stop training and in the time between recovery and my first show, which was the Puerto Rico Pro, I didn’t have much time to bulk so we went straight in for competition," she said.

"I figured that was the reason I was too small because I was burning muscles while in recovery. My coach, too, reassessed and ended my season after the Tampa Pro in June and we started working on bulking up from that time. I had a wonderful off-season, no injuries or sickness so I was training right through.

"I think this time around we gained good size. I was able to condition properly without burning muscles. Coming out of this show, the judges said I was perfect in shape. However, based on how the other girls came in I was too big so I have to lose a bit more and I would be okay. So yes, I am on a good path but with that, my coach has decided on reducing by about five to six pounds more for my next show on June 17-19, 2022 which is the Puerto Rico Pro."

 

 

Olympic gold medalist Briana Williams was recently inducted onto the Champs Sports Wall of Game in Pembroke Pines, Florida, honouring those in the community who make and have made a positive contribution to local sports.

Champs Sports, part of Foot Locker, Inc. is the brand's first iteration of its new Homefield concept and is the largest of any Foot Locker, Inc. subsidiary in the world at 35,000+ square feet.

The 20-year-old Williams was inducted in a ceremony held on April 23 along with four other honourees: Mark Montimurro, Roderick Rocky Gills, Tamara James, and posthumously, Jason Stein.

“It’s always a privilege and a blessing to be honoured by the community that helped to raise me,” said the Jamaican Olympic gold medallist.

“It's also the biggest Champs store in the country so I'm humbled to be one of the first names inducted.”

Montimurro is the Head Coach at Coral Springs Charter School Softball, "Rocky" Gillis is Athletic Director at Broward County Schools and James is a former WNBA player and Mayor of Dania Beach. Stein was the Athletic Director/Baseball Coach/Teacher at JP Taravella High School.

 

 

Former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke believes incoming Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag needs to be given full control at the club if there are to return to the top of the English Premier League.

As a teenager, Anthonique Strachan showed the tremendous potential of becoming one of the world’s brightest stars in track and field.

The tremendous success at the 49th Carifta Games in Kingston, Jamaica, is only another step on the pathway for the British Virgin Islands towards putting their athletes on the podium at the pinnacle of the sport.

At the Games that concluded last week, the BVI enjoyed their best-ever medal haul with four gold, two silver and a bronze medal surpassing their medal tallies from 2012 when they won five. Their medal haul saw them finish third in the standings behind Jamaica with 92 medals, 45 of them gold and the Bahamas 17. What was instructive was that BVI had the same number of gold medals, four, as their neighbours from the Bahamas.

Three of those medals were won by the imperious 16-year-old Adaejah Hodge, who the U17 100m, 200m and Long Jump to come away with the coveted Austin Sealy Award as the most outstanding athlete of the three-day meet.

But according to Steve Augustine, President of the BVI Athletics Association (BVIAA), the best is yet to come and is not too far away.

“What’s next for the BVIs, it’s back to the drawing board and putting in the work.  We have a long list of local, regional and international competitions remaining,” he said.  “While we are there, we haven’t officially arrived until we make the Olympic podium, we fell just short of this with two fourth-place finishes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.  This year, we are, of course, eyeing World U20, the Commonwealth Games and World Championships at which I am certain we will again show up.”

Augustine’s confidence stems from his belief in the BVI’s strong grassroots programme that has consistently produced world-class talents from their population of just over 30,000 inhabitants.

“The BVIs formula for success at the Carifta Games speaks of a preparation process that has taken training and mental preparation processes to a higher level, a level that is more in keeping with our competitive Caribbean counterparts,” he reveals.

“Our local club system has resulted in on-island competition whereby our athletes are pushed, much more than before, to perform at higher levels for victories.  We monitor regional performances, we are well-advised by statisticians such as Rey O’Neal, and we are aware of where we need to be performance-wise if we are to be competitive.

“Our coaches are trained and certified, our athletes are hungry and they all aspire to be the next Kyron McMaster, Chantel Malone, Tahesia Harrigan Scott, Eldred Henry and now the next Adaejah Hodge.”

Hodge, he believes, will inspire a new generation of stars given what she has managed to accomplish at the 49th staging of the Games founded in 1972 by Sealy, who was on hand to present the award to her in front of an appreciative crowd.

“Yes, this will certainly happen but I must say our people naturally gravitate to athletics and despite all the struggles we may face as a growing territory, we have never had a numbers problem in athletics,” Augustine said.

“Support from the BVI Olympic Committee, World Athletics, our government, our fan base and with sponsors such as Puma onboard, we have been able to annually attract scores of athletes into our club system.

 “The level of performance that Adaejah exhibited at the Carifta Games is a reality that our people have become accustomed to over the years.  Adaejah has been performing at the top of her age group for years.  She’s remained world ranked as a junior and she has continued to dominate at the US high school level.  Adaejah was originally scheduled to make her Carifta debut at the 2020 Carifta Games and then the 2021 Carifta Games but for obvious reasons, those intentions had to be put aside.  As it relates to our young ones, they are certainly inspired by Adaejah. It’s been this way for years and perhaps more so now.” 

Augustine is confident that in the years to come, what unfolded in Kingston in mid-April will be more the norm than the exception.

“As it relates to other talents, the truth is there is only a handful of athletes on this year’s team that won’t be back next year and as it relates to those in the pipeline, we have a handful of gifted athletes that I know will represent the BVI well and will prove that they are indeed the next Adaejah Hodge, Kyron McMaster, Chantel Malone, Eldred Henry and Tahesia Harrigan-Scott.  

“The storybook on BVI Athletics is far from finished.”

 

 

 

Canada blanked the Dominican Republic 10-0 in their opening match of the CONCACAF U17 Women’s Championships to move to the top of Group F on goal difference over Jamaica on Sunday.

Garth Gayle, President of the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association and Jamaica’s sports minister Olivia Grange have hailed Elaine Thompson-Herah on her historic win of the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award on Sunday.

No Jamaican female athlete had ever taken home the prestigious award that began in 2000.

The Jamaican sprint queen won on the back of her historic achievements last summer when she became the first woman in Olympic history to win the 100/200m sprint double at consecutive Olympic Games and added a third gold medal to her trophy case when she ran the second leg of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team that won in a national record of 41.02.

She would go on to create even more history when she ran times of 10.54 to become the second-fastest woman of all time while winning the 100m in Eugene, Oregon, and then added times of 10.64 and 10.65 to be the only woman to run faster than 10.7 on four occasions.

Her achievements topped USA’s Allyson Felix (athletics), Australia’s Ashleigh Barty (tennis), Australia’s Emma McKeon (swimming) and USA’s Katie Ledecky and drew praise from the JAAA and the Jamaican government.

"Becoming the second Jamaican and the first female to win the prestigious Laureus Award is a significant achievement for Elaine and by extension Jamaica,” said Gayle.

“This is also a boost for women in track and field and other sports to aim for the highest. We are particularly proud of Elaine for her continuous achievements on and off the track. This definitely sets the tone for a great year for all our athletes.”

Meanwhile, in a missive from the United Kingdom where she will launch the Jamaica 60 programme of activities in the United Kingdom on Monday evening, Minister Grange said Thompson-Herah was most deserving of the honour of “best athlete in the world”.

“This latest success for the fastest woman alive is a tribute to Thompson-Herah’s hard work and sacrifice,” Minister Grange said.

Thompson-Herah is the second Jamaican to win the award. Usain Bolt, won the Laureus Sportsman of the Year in 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2017.

 

 

 

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