Top high school stars for ‘Isaac’ Henry Invitational

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Gladstone Taylor
Kevona Davis
Ricardo Makyn

Excitement should be high at the National Stadium today when St Andrew Technical High host the fifth staging of the S.W. ‘Isaac’ Henry Invitational Track and Field meet. Several of the island’s top high-school teams will clash in what is the final meet before next week’s prestigious Gibson/McCook Relays. Action is scheduled to start at 8:25 a.m. with the 1500 metres open for girls. The meet, which is run in honour of the late outstanding principal of St Andrew Technical High, has been well supported over the years but according to deputy chairman of the organising committee, Juliet Parkes-Livermore, today’s staging will be the biggest ever. “The support for this year’s staging has been the best ever as 86 teams, with more than 2,300 athletes have entered the meet. All the leading schools seeking championship honours in both categories have entered, and we expect a fun-filled day of serious competition,” Livermore-Parkes said. She added: “All the events on today’s programme have been sponsored by past students and other companies. Mayberry Investments are the title sponsors.”

Cash incentives

There will be cash incentives for winners of the 4×100 and 4×400 metres relays. The winners among high-school teams will pocket $40,000, with second receiving $20,000, and third place collecting $10,000. The winners of the prep and primary schools sprint relays will walk away with $20,000, while second, and third-place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.

After helping her team to a record-breaking 43.94 seconds in the Class Two girls 4×100 metres at last Saturday’s Milo Western Relays at the G.C. Foster College, Edwin Allen High’s outstanding female sprinter, Kevona Davis, will bow into individual action today. The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships record holder in the Class Two 100 and 200 metres will compete in the longer sprint which is set to go off at 3:10 p.m.

Among those expected to compete today are members of Edwin Allen’s strong Class Three team, including twin sisters Tia and Tina Clayton. They should get good competition from the outstanding St Jago High athlete Briana Lyston. Title contenders Hydel High and Holmwood are also down to compete in the girls’ events. After some very good performances all season, defending ISSA Boys’ champions, Calabar High, will once again be out in large numbers. They will again be led by 400m ace Christopher Taylor. Former champions Kingston College are quietly showing signs of doing something special this year and will be hoping to go toe to toe with their rivals while the likes of Jamaica College and St Jago will be looking to fine-tune their charges for both the Gibson McCook Relays and next month’s Boys and Girls’ Championships. Track events down to be contested today are the 1500m, 200m, 400m hurdles, 2000m steeplechase, all sprint hurdles along with 4x100m and 4x400m relays. Field events will include the long jump, high jump, discus, shot put and javelin throw.

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Azan’s Money Magnet to outclass rivals in feature

Gladstone Taylor
FLASHBACK: MONEY MAGNET (right, Dane Dawkins) capturing last year’s renewal of the Eileen Cliggott Memorial Trophy.

Despite topweight 126lb, Richard Azan’s MONEY MAGNET is the horse to beat in this afternoon’s Eileen Cliggott Memorial at six and a half furlongs, facing four rivals, including Anthony Nunes’ duo of HOUDINI’S MAGIC and EXHILARATE.

In terms of distance, six and a half furlongs suits MONEY MAGNET better than any of her rivals. Before winning out of the straight on January 19, her previous victory was in October’s Saint Cecelia Trophy at six and a half, clocking 1:18.0 with 126lb among open allowance company, her prep race for December’s Diamond Mile.

Azan made the five-year-old mare skip November’s Caribbean Sprint and pointed her to the December 1 Diamond Mile in which she finished fourth, six lengths behind WILL IN CHARGE, after disputing the lead and was third up to a furlong out behind WILL IN CHARGE and CHACE THE GREAT, carrying 118lb.

A winner at five furlongs straight in the Reggae Trophy on January 19, beating sprint champion CHACE THE GREAT by a length, MONEY MAGNET returns 15lb heavier, the first time she will ever carry topweight in grade one, where she has been constantly hounded by either SHE’S A MANEATER or CHACE THE GREAT.

Expected to dominate

With neither grade one star in the event, MONEY MAGNET gets a race that she can dominate despite giving away weight all around.

HOUDINI’S MAGIC and PERFECT NEIGHBOUR will both find the trip on the sharp side whereas EXHILARATE, who ran on Wednesday, has skipped a class to contest a distance at which she barely scraped home two classes lower on Boxing Day.

Azan smartly has PEKING CRUZ in the event, despite him nearly being brought down by NUCLEAR FLIGHT on Wednesday, no doubt as a rabbit to keep EXHILARATE busy, foiling what appears to be Nunes’ plan to have his speedster set up the race for HOUDINI’S MAGIC.

Barbadian Simon Husbands has tons of experience and will know exactly how to use MONEY MAGNET’s pace down the backstretch. He is a powerhouse rider and will be hard to deny in a last-furlong battle.


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Petersfield eye Western Champs boys’ title

Ricardo Makyn

When the starter’s pistol cracks for the first time on the final day of Western Championships in Santa Cruz today, Petersfield High will start atop the male team standings. It’s a position the school’s coach, Machel Woolery, hopes he will remain in when the meet is over. With that in mind, he has been working to broaden the range of events Petersfield is proficient in.

The lead is slender, with Petersfield on 99.5 points, with defending champion school St Elizabeth Technical on 91 and Cornwall third with 74.

Known for its ongoing production of throwers, Petersfield now has sprinters of quality and has branched out into the hurdles. Woolery says the change is deliberate. “Well, we have to widen the base,” he said in Santa Cruz in January. “We want to crown ourselves champions in the western area,” he expanded, “so to challenge for the title, we have to spread our wings.”

Throwers like Kevin Nedrick, Sanjay Lawrence, Daniel Cope and Glenford Watson have made an impact for Petersfield.

Last year, with Antonio Watson winning a Class Two 200 and 400 metres double, Woolery’s team moved up from a seemingly perennial third place finish to second.

The improvement is no accident. “It’s deliberate, you know,” he confided. “This year, we take on a few hands, persons to assist in the technical areas, jumps, and hurdles, the technical side of things, to improve our hurdling techniques,” he said.

New focus

The new focus has seen Watson and Shaquena Foote turn to the 400 metre hurdles, with Foote establishing herself as one of the early favourites for Boys and Girls’ Championships.

Her teammate, Hisseno Stewart is also among the fastest in the nation in that event.

Most of the additional ‘hands’ have come from past students. “I have some past students who have come on board and say they want to help the programme from a coaching perspective, so that gives me room to spread my wings round and can spend more time in other areas and I just focus on throws and probably quarter-mile and a few stars,” Woolery said.

Led by Foote and Carifta 200 metres champion Ockera Myrie, the girls’ team has been solid too. Fourth in 2014, the little ladies from Petersfield have finished third in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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Orville Higgins | That Gabriel, Root clash

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Shannon Gabriel
England’s captain Joe Root.

The decision by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to ban Windies pacer Shannon Gabriel for four one-day internationals has been on everyone’s lips over the past few days. Gabriel was sanctioned because he was said to have breached Section 2.13 of the ICC code of conduct regarding personal abuse of a player. Let me remind my readers that the sanction came about because Gabriel had two other incidents over the last 24 months, involving physical confrontations with Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed and Imrul Kayes from Bangladesh.

Several things about the whole incident I find strange, even disturbing.

The ICC charged Gabriel for a breach purely on a retort made by England captain Joe Root that was picked up by the stump microphone. Root is reported to have said “don’t use that as insult, there is nothing wrong with being gay.” The stump microphone never picked up what Root was responding to and therein lies the problem for me.

How on earth do you sanction someone for the response of another person? How can Gabriel be sanctioned for personal abuse of a player when at the time of the charge, the microphones, and by extension the ICC, had no idea what Gabriel said? That on the surface makes zero sense to me. The fact that Gabriel subsequently admitted to asking Root “Do you like boys?” is beside the point. What if Gabriel had gone to the hearing and said he hadn’t made any homophobic statement what would the ICC then do? Their “evidence” would be based on Root’s words alone and that wouldn’t be justice at all.

Now that Gabriel has confessed, and subsequently apologised for his utterances, I find it incredible that people are defending him, that he did nothing wrong. According to those siding with Gabriel, all he did was ask a mere question. That is just so wrong. There are questions that are meant to be taken far more seriously than a mere attempt at getting an answer. If I see you smiling and laughing with a toddler and I asked “are you a paedophile?”, that must not be seen as a mere question. When Shylock inMerchant of Venice, in defending Jews, said “if you prick us do we not bleed…?” he was not just asking a question. Gabriel’s question to Root was abusive and was meant to be insulting. How anybody can defend him on this is beyond me. One more thing about this bothers me. It is not the ICC that controls the stump microphones. That falls within the domain of the TV broadcasters for the event.

No instructions

At this point there are no clear and rigid instructions to the TV broadcasters as to when the stump microphones should be turned on or up or down. The person operating the stump microphones can, apparently, turn the mike up or down at his leisure which does leave the room open for corruption. If he wants to get a player in trouble he can simply turn up the thing when he is dishing out abuse and simply turn it down for another player doing the very same thing. That has to be regulated. Either one way or the other for me. It’s either on for the whole game or off for the whole game.

Finally, Gabriel has been banned for four ODI’s. He was not picked to play in the first two and may not have featured in the rest of the series anyway.

How effective then is this four-match ban in real terms? And while we are at it, why the double punishment of a four-match ban and 75 per cent of match fee. Should it not be one or the other? The ICC has to be careful that while it is trying to tighten up on verbal abuse, it doesn’t take away the on- field banters that have always been part of the game.

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Rusea’s girls in pole position

Kavarly Arnold
Rusea’s High shotputter Aliesha Shaw in action in the Class One girls’ event at the Western Championships on Thursday. Shaw won the event with a throw of 12.83 metres.

Western Bureau :

Rodrick Myles, the coach of Rusea’s High’s track and field team, is confident they will be able to defend their Western Championships girls’ title on today’s final day of competition at the St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS) Sports Complex in Santa Cruz.

After nine field events finals on Thursday, Rusea’s lead with 91 points from STETHS (68). They are followed by Petersfield (49), Manning (47) and Mt Alvernia rounding out the top five.

“I think this might be one of our easiest of the past two championships that we have won,” Myles said.

“Going into the final day as you can see we totally dominated the sprints and we also look good in the distances so I think this will be one of our better championships,” he added.

Despite having immense confidence in his track athletes, Myles is not promising anything spectacular especially from his sprinters and said that the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships is their primary focus.

However, he expects good performances from Shantae Morgan (12.66 and 25.17 in the Class Two 100 and 200m, respectively) and Lashawn Haye (11.86 in the Class One 100m preliminary). “You can expect great things from them. One of the athletes I think people could look out also for is Monique Stewart who has done 12.67 and 26.08 in the 100 and 200m respectively, in Class Four. She was a gold medallist at primary champs last year,” Myles added.

Good in the field

Myles was also impressed with the overall performances of his senior field athletes and singled out record breakers Shamella Donaldson in the Class One discus and Nia Robinson in the Class Two high jump.

“The throws team is one of the best among high schools in the country with two national representatives, two have won medals at Champs already,” Myles said.

“Donaldson has done a great job with her throw of 48.85m. She is the leading high school thrower this season after a 49m plus throw earlier this season. Robinson has also done well with her record leap of 1.76m in the Class Two high jump record,” he added.

Alisha Shaw took the Class One discus with 12.83m on her last throw ahead of twin sister Keliesha (12.48m) to grab maximum points for Rusea’s. Judeen Aird of Petersfield took bronze with 12.05m.In the boys’ section Petersfield leads with 99.5 points going into the final day, followed by STETHS on 91. Cornwall College (74), Rusea’s (45.5) and Herbert Morrison (19) round out the top five.


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Blaise Bicknell shines at Brazil tourney

Blaise Bicknell

Blaise Bicknell, one of Jamaica’s most promising young tennis players, has done exceptionally well in the high profile Banana Bowl G1 International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior tournament being held in Criciúma, Brazil. Bicknell, who is ranked at No. 116 in the world by the ITF, reached the quarter- finals of the tournament, which is regarded as ‘the jewel of junior clay court tournaments in South America, where he lost a close match to the No. 1-seeded player, Nicholas Alvarez Varona, from Spain, 7-5, 6-3. Varona is ranked No. 10 in the world by the ITF.

Rewarding week

It was a tough but very rewarding week for the 17-year-old Bicknell, who played brilliant tennis to reach the quarters. In his first match on Monday, he beat Japanese player Taiyo Yamanaka 6-0, 1-6, 6-2 in a game of fluctuating fortunes. After a comfortable first set win, he had problems with the heat in the second set and had to receive treatment. He recovered quickly after this, however, and roared back to win the third set.

Next up for him was another Japanese player Shintaro Mochizuiki who is ranked No. 33 in the world by the ITF, and he took him out 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. He continued to shine on Wednesday, and defeated Argentina’s No. 1-ranked player, Santiago de la Fuente, 6-3, 6-2. In Thursday’s quarter- finals, he held his own in the first set, but Varona took control in the second set, and a couple of service breaks by him, gave him the victory.

Bicknell will next be playing in Brazil, and his coach, Mel Spence, said yesterday that he was “thrilled by the progress being made by Blaise”. Spence added: “Blaise is now playing with a lot of confidence, and after working tirelessly for years, he is now playing to his true potential and is on the way to becoming a world-beater.”


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‘Golden’ Office?

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Shorn Hector
Raymond Simpson
An aerial view of the National Stadium in Kingston.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts is optimistic about the nation’s chances of hosting two games in the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer.

Ricketts had said last September that he was worried that the JFF’s bid for games in the competition would have been rejected because he felt that the National Stadium may not have been up to CONCACAF’s standard.

However, he said that officials visited the island recently to inspect the venue, and now, he has a positive feeling that it will be approved.

“We’re working on it and it’s still very much alive,” Ricketts told The Gleaner. “In fact, some CONCACAF personnel were here on Tuesday, and we’re hoping to get a response on what they thought. They looked at the stadium and had a detailed inspection, and they seemed pretty satisfied based on their body language. But we’re still waiting for a formal response from them. We’re just hopeful and optimistic based on the inspection on Tuesday.”

Independence Park general manager Major Desmon Brown said that despite Ricketts’ concerns that the stadium may not have been up to the standard of hosting the competition, no major upgrades were done to the facility to get CONCACAF’s approval.

“I would not know why it would not have been successful,” he said. “We haven’t done anything new. All we have done is maintain our standards. The field is in very good condition. We have a major upgrade coming, which has not started yet. Maybe it’s just the condition of the field.”

The JFF is hoping to host a double-header at the stadium, but until approval is granted, it would not know the specifics of what stage of games they would be.

Jamaica is still trying to qualify for the tournament from the CONCACAF Nations’ League and can do so with a win against El Salvador on March 23. The Gold Cup takes place from June 15 to July 7.

[email protected]

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Arnett’s Fabian Reid hits form

Ricardo Makyn
Arnett Gardens player Fabian Reid (left) moves away from Dunbeholden’s Clayton Pusey in their Red Stripe Premier League encounter at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Monday, December 24, 2018.

After taking some time to find his goalscoring form this season, last season’s runner-up in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) scorer’s race, Fabian Reid, has found his scoring boots this campaign and has climbed to the top of the charts with 11 goals.

Reid netted one goal in his team’s 3-1 win over Tivoli Gardens in their west Kingston derby last Sunday.

Reid finished with 16 goals last campaign, one goal behind top scorer Craig Foster, and after outscoring fellow golden boot challenger Colorado Murray, who came into their contest tied on 10 goals, Reid assumed the leadership of the scoring table with seven rounds of matches to go.

But Reid said that his slow start to the season was a result of defenders and teams paying him more attention. However, he said that he has never lost focus or his determination and that his continued hard work is now bearing fruit. The striker has scored in three of his team’s last four matches.


“This season, defenders are marking me a lot more. They are not giving me any chance because they know how dangerous I am. But I just continue to work until I find it (form), and it’s coming on now. I was the goal man for Arnett Gardens last season, and now that I got back my form, I am just looking to get the job done,” he said.

Coincidentally, Reid and Arnett Gardens have hit form around the same time, and he says that it usually goes hand-in-hand.

“This is our time of the season now, and our form is coming around, so we have to make the most of it, and from I am scoring, the team is going to be up.

“We have seven games to go, and if we win those seven games, we can finish second or first. So we can still reach first. We just have to continue working hard as last year is last year, and we don’t want to live in the past,” he said.

Reid was disappointed after letting the scoring title slip from his grasp last season, but with seven games to go, plus the play-offs, he believes that he can hold on and take the award this term.

“I am looking to get about 20 goals this season, and if I can get 20 goals, that would be all right. Yes, I am looking to get the top scorer award as last year I slipped up, but I am not living in the past. I am working to do it this season,” he said.

Reid leads the goalscoring chart with 11 goals, followed by Colorado Murray and Tremaine Stewart on 10 and Rondee Smith and Deshane Beckford with nine.

[email protected]

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Outdated ideas – Heaven responds to JCA rival Neita

Ricardo Makyn

Wilford ‘Billy’ Heaven, president of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), described as “outdated” the proposed hands-on style being promised by presidential hopeful Mark Neita.

The two will contest local cricket’s top post at the JCA’s annual general meeting (AGM) on February 28.

Heaven told The Gleaner that modern cricket administration convention dictates that the organisation is managed by a board and responsibilities are delegated.

Neita said he would provide the association with the hands-on, in-office type of leadership, which, he believes, is vital to pushing the sport forward, but Heaven argued that ‘executive presidents’ are a thing of the past.

“The issue of whether you have a hands-on leader or, as I interpret it, an executive president, is a no-no for me. There is no need for an executive president in sports or any well-managed corporate entity. That model has gone long ago. Even family businesses are looking for professional managers to manage and a board to formulate policies and direct the organisations.

“So I believe this should continue to be the model of the JCA. We have a board, and that board will set policies, formulate strategies, and direct the management, and the management will carry out those responsibilities,” he said.


Heaven said that what Neita proposes could plunge the organisation into confusion.

“To have a management and for the board to also manage would create chaos and confusion in the roles, the lines of responsibility, and the chain of command. So I would never agree with a president being an executive president in charge of the organisation in terms of its management, no. But we believe this model, this structure, should continue irrespective of who is here. It is the way modern organisations are going, not only sports organisations, but commercial organisations,” he said.

Heaven says that their campaign theme is performance and not promise, and he strongly believes that he has led the JCA well during his time in charge and expects to continue leading the revival of Jamaica’s cricket after February 28.

“When I took office, we saw a board managing the JCA, and we appointed a CEO after many years here without a CEO. We set the structure in place, and apart from the structure, we set systems in place, we formulated policies, and we have a JCA that is efficient, and we are proud of that,” he said.

“Sustainability of any sporting organisation will not come through sponsorship. It has to come through your own initiative to generate income, and that is what we have done very well. Our cricket has some ways to go, but we have made sure to put in place a youth programme, which, over the next few years, will see some success in terms of our cricket development,” he continued.

However, he anticipates a favourable result at the AGM.

“I expect a good AGM. The membership has matured. We rely on information to our membership, so we have that information to provide to them. We are not expecting people to come and sit down. We expect them to ask reasonable questions, using reasonable tones so we can have a dialogue at the AGM that is appropriate and conducive to our AGM. We are very optimistic about the outcome of the elections, so we have a fair degree of confidence that we will continue to serve cricket.”

Heaven, who was first elected in 2013, is seeking his third two-year term.

[email protected]

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Dalton Myers | Local universities still a good option for student athletes

Ricardo Makyn

Just last week, an article in THE STAR titled ‘US collegiate still the best option’ quoted veteran coach and president of Racers Track Club, Dr The Hon Glen Mills, as suggesting that attending overseas (I am assuming US) universities is a better option for Jamaicans who want to be full-time athletes and students. He made some observations which are worth examining.

I have known Mills for a while now and have worked very closely with him, while I was head of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, sports programme. In fact, he was instrumental in the development of the university’s track programme, which at one point rivalled the major tertiary institutions locally. I also understand his position as we have had similar discussions around the challenges student athletes face locally.


I have long argued that some athletes are better suited to train overseas, while others could benefit more by staying home. So where I agree with the world-renowned coach is that some of our talented juniors should choose overseas or local programmes based on their long-term goals. A lot has changed at the Mona campus since I left, so I cannot speak for the current administration, but what I do know is that part of the earlier struggle was to get the management to agree to wholesale changes that were not necessarily in line with the university’s policies and procedures. This created several challenges for athletes and support personnel such as Mills. In many instances, athletes could not train in an accommodating environment. Improvements were made while I was there, but obviously a lot more needed to happen. Therefore, I can understand aspects of Mills’ arguments in this regard.

Where I fundamentally disagree with Mills is the broad-based suggestion that it is more difficult to do both training and academics in local universities. As someone who spent over a decade in our local collegiate system, I can safely say that some of the comments attributed to Mills do not represent the total picture. If this was the case, we would not have seen several student athletes completing their undergraduate degrees and competing at the highest level. Additionally, based on my knowledge of other tertiary institutions such as G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport, and the University of Technology, Jamaica specifically, I am not sure if their experience is similar to Mills’.


In many of these institutions, faculty and coaches work together in the athletes’ interest, oftentimes adjusting to accommodate the athletes’ training and competition schedule.

I think the issues in the local tertiary institutions are many, and not all are as accommodating as overseas universities, but the current system also helps to mould and shape many student athletes. If you look on the most recent senior teams, you would have seen several current and past student athletes from local universities, including Shashalee Forbes, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jaheel Hyde, Fedrick Dacres, Traves Smikle and Hansle Parchment, and many others competing for Team Jamaica. In other sports such as netball, the Sunshine Girls team is made up of majority student athletes; cricket now has several athletes in the Jamaica team, while UWI has several players involved with the Red Stripe Premier League football competition.

Our tertiary institutions have a far way to go in terms of creating a structure that fully accommodates student athletes. The cost is also prohibitive, as many tertiary institution administrators see other competing expenses as more important than investing directly in sport development.

Our tertiary institutions represent the bedrock of sport in the region. I am sure The Hon Mills remembers that we have had decades of challenges with student athletes, who have also gone overseas and have had similar challenges of completing their academic programmes and/or suffer burnout from the collegiate circuit. So, there are challenges all around.

It is not that going overseas is the better option for everyone, but rather there may be better facilities and support systems overseas. This has always been the case, but it has never prevented us from recruiting and keeping local talent at home and training them to become world-beaters. The truth is we may never be able to match overseas systems at the professional track and field level because of finances, but we can adjust our programmes to still produce world-class athletes, and even a developing model for many other countries.

Dalton Myers is a sports consultant and administrator. Email feedback to [email protected] or tweet @daltonsmyers.

News Credit: The Jamaica Gleaner | Read here