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Follow the Trace: Sports still alive and well
While the allegations of corruption and doping scandals and all the intricate details are good for news, and make for great ‘bar talk’ and verandah discussions, I think their importance to the average sports fan is highly overrated. We are more interested in the fortunes of our favourite teams, whether it be Liverpool, or Manchester United or Chelsea or Arsenal, or Barcelona or Real Madrid, and what they do week in week out on the football pitch than if ‘Sepp’ Blatter did or did not make a nefarious payment to Michel Platini. At the end of the day, sports is alive and well. Despite the moral and ethical dilemma at the administrative level of sports, the sports themselves are still very much intact and genuinely mean a lot to millions of passionate fans all around the world. Not important to fans The case could even be made that despite the confirmation of prevalent drug use in the sport of athletics, track and field is still very alive and well. Certainly, at the level of the Olympic Games and the World Championships, these events are no lesser spectacles than they were before. Simply seeing the world’s best competing against each other is still an attractive proposition for most sports fans. When, for example, Justin Gatlin faced off with Usain Bolt for the 100-metre World title in Beijing, it still was one of the most, if not the most, anticipated and well-watched sprint races in the modern history of the sport, despite Gatlin’s conspicuous history of drug use. Similarly, the scandals at the boardroom level of world football have in no way affected the attractiveness of the game itself. The UEFA Champions League, the Barclays Premier League, the Spanish La Liga and all the other major leagues of Europe are still appealing to the thousands and thousands of people who fill the stadia in support of their favourite teams, and this is in addition to the millions who religiously tune in across the world to indulge in the passion of the world’s simplest yet most popular sport. When the Olympics come around in the summer of 2016, no one will even remember the name Lamine Diack and what he might or might not have done. When the World Cup Finals come around in 2018, very few people, if any, will remember or care to remember the name ‘Sepp’ Blatter; we will all be submerged in another monthlong orgy of football. Track and field alive The year 2015 will long be remembered as the year when international sports suffered significant damage to its reputation. The massive corruption scandal engulfing the world’s most popular sport has seen several high-ranking officials of the governing body of football, including former president Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter and several of his former vice-presidents, already charged and tarnished. A similar fate seems to have befallen the world governing body of track and field, the IAAF, with its immediate past president Lamine Diack and other functionaries currently under investigation after allegations of corruption. Add to that the not unrelated issue of the widespread doping facing the sport generally, and specifically the significant allegations that athletics powerhouse Russia has been practising widespread state-sponsored doping. On the face of it, at least two of the world’s major sports are in critical but stable condition and fighting for dear life. Despite the sensational appeal of these developments, I think the sports of football and athletics are as strong and as relevant as at anytime in their history. The fact of the matter is that these scandals, for what they are worth, are at the administrative level of the sports, and except for the doping component, these issues have had no real negative effects on the integrity and the specific functionality of the sports themselves.
Vere girls stand out at Douglas Forrest meet
There were some outstanding results at the Douglas Forrest Development Meet at the National Stadium on Saturday, with Vere Technical and Hydel High’s girls chipping in with good performances, while the boys’ side was dominated by St Jago High in middle-and long-distance events.With top girls’ schools Edwin Allen High, St Jago and Holmwood Technical absent, the John Mair-coached Vere produced three double winners in Brittany Anderson, Britney Dixon and Avery Pryce.Class Three athlete Anderson maintained her excellent form this season. Following her quick 11.88 seconds to win the 100 metres a week earlier at the JC Purewater meet, Anderson produced the fastest 200 metres and the longest jump. After a second-place finish in the high jump with 1.68 metres, Anderson captured the long jump with 6.02 metres, before topping the 200 metres field with 24.70 secondsKiara Grant of Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha) was second overall in the 200m in 24.96 seconds.DIXON IN FINE FORMDixon was victorious in the Class Two 800 and 1,500 metres. In the 800 metres, she stopped the clock at 2:18.37 to get the better of Sherona Stewart (2:22.96) of Hydel. In the 1,500 metres, her winning time of 4:52.02 saw her getting the better of the Hydel duo of Monifa Green (4:57.89) and Aaliyah Stewart (5:07.33).Vere’s Aleitha Fearon won the Class One 800m in 2:20.94, with teammate Aleisha Skyers taking Class Two in 2:25.14.Pryce captured the Class Two shot put with a heave of 12.34 metres, before returning to capture the discus with 37.14m.Hydel High’s Davia Brown claimed the discus with 44.79m and the shot put with 12.72m.St Jago’s boys Keenon Lawrence, Lerone Clarke, Sean Bailey and Thaleentino Green were outstanding.Lawrence took the Class Two 800-1,500 metres double. In the 800m, he sprinted away in the latter stage to win in 1:59.22, getting the better of teammate Anthony Cox, 2:00.90.Christopher Taylor of Calabar High won his heat easily in 2:01.90 to finish third overall.In the Open boys’ 5,000m, Green won in 16:04.98, and his teammate, Kyle Morgan, finished second in 16:24.84.Clarke topped the Class One 1,500m in 4:06.62 ahead of Mico University College’s Alex Hutton (4:97.35), with Green third overall in 4:07.75.Bailey took the Class One 800m in 1:59.22, as former teammate Martin Manley, competing for Cameron Blazers Track Club, was second in 1:56.97. Shemar Hylton of Excelsior High was third in 1:59.75.Calabar High also showed their strength in Class Two, as Dejour Russell won in 22.46 seconds ahead of teammate Tyreke Wilson and St Jago High’s Cox, who both clocked 22.61 seconds for second and third, respectively.In the Class One 200m, Calabar High’s Xavier Angus was first in 21.86 seconds, just ahead of Vere Technical’s Tascio Bell, 21.94 seconds, and Michael Campbell of Jamaica College, 21.98 seconds.
Sports tourism key to JLP manifesto
Sports tourism, the building of new facilities and renovation of existing ones will be high on the agenda of the new administration. With the strong belief that Jamaica is perfectly placed, especially with its proximity to the North American market, increased efforts are expected to be made to woo athletes to the island, especially during the winter months. In its election manifesto, the Jamaica Labour Party promised to “intensity efforts to establish an extensive sports tourism programme that will, among other things, provide discounted prices to athletes that wish to use our facilities (especially during their winter season)”. To meet current and future demand the new government said, in its manifesto, that local sports training facilities “should be equipped to meet international standards and include gymnasium, swimming pool, indoor halls, cycling velodrome, squash courts, hockey fields (grass and synthetic, athletic tracks – cinder and synthetic) and outdoor courts such as in tennis.” With the National Stadium cycle track not meeting international standards, the country could be presented with plans to build a cycling velodrome to facilitate not only local riders, but top cyclists from the United States and Canada. “Jamaica has more than 1,600 sporting facilities … These facilities need to be rehabilitated. Other facilities should be built,” the manifesto said. There are also plans to increase the numbers and to improve the efficiency of local sports professionals to make them more marketable worldwide. “We will enhance greater partnership between the government and our local sporting bodies to enhance training and certification of our local coaches … not only to meet local, but also international standards that would deem them qualified/certified to ply their trade across the globe,” the new government’s manifesto said. The upgrade of sports professionals will not be limited to coaches – the expanded training will also cover sports physicians, physiotherapists, sports medicine physicians, sports nutritionists and sports administrators. The new government is also planning to promote more research in sports sciences. “The days of relying solely on raw-born talent is a thing of the past,” its manifesto said. With the many advances in approaches, the manifesto said, strategies will be developed to improve the overall health of the country’s citizens and this will be done in consultation with the ministry of health.