BEIJING OLYMPICS 2008
JAMAICAN OLYMPIC SQUAD SELECTED
Men’s squad: Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Michael Frater, Marvin Anderson, Dwight Thomas, Julien Dunkley, Andre Wellington, Christopher Williams, Nesta Carter, Michael Blackwood, Ricardo Chambers, Sanjay Ayre, Allodin Fothergill, Marvin Essor, Lansford Spence, Maurice Wignall, Richard Phillips, Danny McFarlane, Markino Buckley, Adrian Findlay, Isa Phillips, Herbert McGregor, Dorian Scott, Aldwyn Sappleton, Maurice Smith
Women’s squad: Kerron Stewart, Shelly-Ann Fraser, Sherone Simpson, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherri-Ann Brooks, Aleen Bailey, Simone Facey, Nickeisha Anderson, Rosemarie Whyte, Novlene Williams-Nills, Shericka Williams, Shareefa Lloyd, Bobby Gaye Wilkins, Anastasia Leroy, Kenia Sinclair, Mardrea Hyman, Korine Hinds, Chelsea Hammond, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Delloreen Ennis-London, Vonette Dixon, Andrea Bliss, Melaine Walker, Nickeisha Wilson, Shevon Stoddart, Olivia McKoy.
Manager: Ludlow Watts
Assistants: Garth Gayle, Gregory Hamilton, Judith Ewart
Technical leader: Donald Quarrie
Head coach: Glen Mills
Coaches: Maurice Wilson, Bertland Cameron, Michael Clarke, Edward Hector, Fitz Coleman
Team doctors: Warren Blake, Herb Elliott, Michael Douglas
Physiotherapists/masseurs: Gaynor Downer, Everald Edwards, Gavin James.
The athletics aspect of the Games will be held at the National Stadium, Beijing, August 15-24.
Veronica Campbell-Brown rebounded from her disappointing fourth-placed finish in Saturday’s 100m final with a life-time best and world leading 21.94secs (wind 1.1 m/s) to win the 200 metres on yesterday’s third and final day of the Supreme Ventures National Senior Track and Field Championships at the National Stadium in Kingston.
|OVERJOYED Veronica Campbell-Brown reacts after confirming her winning time, a personal best 21.94 seconds in the women’s 200 metres final at the Supreme Ventures National Senior Track and Field Championships at the National Stadium last night. (Photo: Bryan Cummings)|
Running in lane three, Campbell-Brown produced an impressive start to take the lead off the corner before powering to the fourth fastest time ever by a Jamaican woman. Only national record holder Merlene Ottey (21.64), Grace Jackson (21.72), and Juliet Cutbert (21.75) have run faster than Campbell-Brown, who shaved 0.11 off her previous best of 22.05.
Campbell-Brown was understandably elated with securing her spot on the team to Beijing.
“The way my training has been going my coach (Lance Brauman) was very confident that I would run 21 (seconds) tonight as long as I executed,” she said. “Last night (Saturday) I don’t know what happened, but I was disappointed.it was just a shocker to me, but it’s just a part of life. I just had to bounce back and come out here and make sure that I’m on the Olympic team for an individual race,” the reigning world 100m champion explained, noting that she should be able to run 10.7 before the season is out.
Kerron Stewart, who won the 100m title on Saturday, took second in a career best 21.99secs, becoming the fifth fastest Jamaican woman over the half-lap event. Commonwealth champion Sherone Simpson was third 22.11secs.
World 100-metre record holder (9.72secs) Usain Bolt toyed with the field, shutting down with 60-metres remaining to stop the clock at 19.97secs. Bolt became the first man since Dwight Thomas in 2002 to take the sprint double.
|Usain Bolt (centre) eases down towards the end of the men’s 200 metres final at the National Stadium last night. Bolt won in 19.97 seconds. At left is Nester Carter, while Ricardo Williams is at right. (Photo: Bryan Cummings)|
“It feels good to be double champion, but the aim was just to come here and qualify and I did that, so I’m pretty satisfied with myself,” said Bolt. “I didn’t want to go too fast because I’ve gone through a lot (three rounds of 100 and two rounds of 200) this weekend,” the world 200m silver medallist added.
Marvin Anderson (20.17) and Christopher Williams (20.20) were second and third, respectively.
The youthful Rosemarie Whyte and the experienced Michael Blackwood obliged in the 400m metres, beating their more favoured opponents. Whyte produced a late burst in the last 30 metres to beat World Championships bronze medallist Novlene Williams-Mills at the tape in a life-time best 50.05secs.
“I knew I was going to run 50-point because of the training that I’ve been getting,” said Whyte, who is coached by Maurice Wilson at GC Foster College.
Williams-Mills was timed at 50.11 ahead of Shericka Williams, 50.33secs.
Blackwood rolled back the years to get the better of young ‘Turks’ Richard Chambers and defending champion Sanjay Ayre in a blanket finish. Blackwood got the nod in 45.21secs, while Chambers and Ayre were both credited with 45.24.
Blackwood told the Observer he never doubted that he would win. “I know that I have a strong base, so I knew I would finish strong.I never panicked at all, so I just held my composure and finish as strong as possible,” said Blackwood, who was winning his fourth national title, having done so in 2001, ’02 and ’03.
Two-time World Championship medallist Brigitte Foster-Hylton recovered from a poor start to storm through the field to nip defending champion Delloreen Ennis-London on the line for her fifth national title. The national record holder (12.45secs) produced a season-best 12.50 for the victory ahead of her good friend Ennis-London, 12.57secs. “That was really a lousy start.I really had to run past all the girls, they were all ahead of me, but I am confident in my speed and confident in my strength,” said Foster-Hylton, who also won national titles in 2002, ’03, ’05, ’06.
Ennis-London was equally satisfied to make her third Olympic team, having competed in Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004). “I stumbled over the third hurdle, I kind of lost it from there and then my last three hurdles I started to reach to ensure I made the team, so technically it wasn’t a good race, but I’m thankful that I’m on the team,” said Ennis-London, a former seven-time champion at this level. Vonette Dixon was third in 12.71secs.
The men’s equivalent went to Richard Phillips in 13.57secs ahead of Decosma Wright, 13.64, and eight-time former champion Maurice Wignall, 13.65secs.
Reigning 800 metres Commonwealth Games silver medallist Kenia Sinclair secured her fourth consecutive national tile by posting two minutes 01.46secs. The national record holder (1 minute, 57.88sces), who sustained an injury to her left Achilles in Friday’s preliminaries, came through 400m in 58.32secs. “I’m a little sour today (yesterday), but I still came out and did my best,” Sinclair said. “After the spiking incident of Friday I decided I was just going to take it easy and do whatever it was going to take to be the national champion of the 2008 Jamaica Olympic trials,” she added. Sinclair also secured national titles in 2005, ’06 and ’07. Neisha Bernard Thomas of Grenada (2:02.56) and Sheena Gooding (2:04.23) of Barbados, were second and third, respectively.
Alwyn Sappleton, who has only attained the Olympic ‘B’ (1:47.00) standard, captured the men’s equivalent in a pedestrian 1 minute, 48.45secs. It was Sappleton’s fourth straight lien on the national crown. He recorded the ‘B’ standard at last summer’s Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
JAMAICA’S Usain Bolt clocked a 100m world record of 9.72 seconds today to electrify the Reebok Grand Prix athletics meeting.
The 21-year-old broke the previous record of 9.74 set by compatriot Asafa Powell in Rieti, Italy last September.
With a 1.7m tailwind at the New York meeting, Bolt finished ahead of 100m and 200m World Champion Tyson Gay of the United States (9.85) and American Darvis Patton (10.07).
On a night when thunderstorms and the threat of lightning forced a 45 minute disruption to the action – and that after the start of the meet was delayed for an hour – Bolt delivered the real jolt of the night.
The 1.95m tall Jamaican immediately became the man to beat as the athletics season builds toward the Beijing Olympics in August, with Gay, Powell and the rest of the world’s sprinters relegated to the role of challengers.
“This world record doesn’t mean a thing unless I get the Olympic gold medal, or win at the world championships,” he said.
Bolt, the 200m world championships silver medallist, had set the athletics world buzzing on May 3, when he clocked 9.76 – then the second-fastest time in history – at a meeting in Kingston.
With that performance he appeared poised to live up to his earlier credentials, which included world junior records and status as the youngest man to reach a World Championship sprint final, at Helsinki in 2005.
While Bolt is now front and centre in the 100m reckoning, he said the 200m remains his passion.
“I always say the 200 is my favorite race. That’s not going to change,” said Bolt, who is considered by many a likely threat to Michael Johnson’s 200m world record of 19.32 set in Atlanta in 1996.
On the same East River island in New York City – but at a different stadium – that saw Leroy Burrell and Frank Budd set previous 100m world records, Bolt blazed out of the blocks and was never threatened.
“I knew if I got out of the blocks OK, I’d have a good chance,” Bolt said. “I knew this was a fast track and that I was ready to run something in the 9.7’s.
“But 9.72, that’s pretty good. When I saw the time they put on the board (at first 9.71) I realised it was something special.”
The large contingent of Jamaican fans among the sellout crowd of 6,490 at Icahn Stadium went wild with delight.
“There were a lot of Jamaican fans here tonight,” Bolt said. “I got a lot of support. I think they’re pretty happy right now.
“I’m not sure whether the weather helped or not,” he added. “It was kind of rainy early, but then it changed – guess it was all right, after all.”
Gay applauded the performance, but insisted it didn’t change his approach to Beijing.
“I was only one-hundredth off my own PR (personal record) so you can see what a great race Usain ran tonight,” Gay said.
“I’m not surprised that he ran that well. After all, he had that 9.76,” Gay added. “But this was just one race, it was only my second 100 of the year. I’m not going to change the programme. I’m right on schedule.”
Olympic 200m champion Shawn Crawford was a distant sixth.
“He was awesome,” Crawford said of Bolt. “We all want to be number one, but this was his night.
“Give him credit. But it doesn’t mean everything. There’s no reason it can’t be different next time.”
Despite his triumph, Bolt said much the same.
“There aren’t going to be any celebrations,” said Bolt, who said his next start will be in Ostrava. “This was just one race. There’s a whole lot more to go.”
Olympic gold: 0
Olympic silver: 0
Olympic bronze: 0
Personal best: 100m – 9.74, 200m – 19.90
World records: 0
RECENTLY dethroned as the fastest man on earth, Olympic gold will be the focus for Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell as he seeks to be once again the world’s greatest sprinter.
Claiming top spot at last year’s IAAF World Athletics in Stuttgart Powell proved he was the man to beat until countryman Usain Bolt shaved 0.02 seconds off his 100m world record of 9.74 seconds.
By the time Beijing rolls around it will have been almost 12 months since Powell set the previous world record for the 100m at the Rieti Grand Prix meet in Italy.
Powell has so far failed to break the 10 second barrier in 2008, recording his fastest time this year of 10.04 seconds in Melbourne in February.
The only man to have legally run under 9.80 seconds five times, Powell will want to prove he is the world’s greatest sprinter having missed out on claiming the world crown in 2007.
How tiny Jamaica develops so many champion sprinters
Kingston, Jamaica – – As late afternoon trade winds drift into Kingston’s National Stadium, the world’s fastest man ambles back to his starting blocks.
Usain Bolt’s performance in this training session is less than lighting-fast, however, and it fails to impress his coach, Glen Mills. “Make sure you do them good, otherwise you’ll do them tomorrow morning – early,” he barks.
A month ago, Mr. Bolt lived up to his name by breaking countryman Asafa Powell’s world record in the 100-meter dash. The two hold the five fastest recognized times in the event and will go head-to-head this weekend in Jamaica’s Olympic trials.
Yet these men are just two of dozens of top-flight Jamaican sprinters who are poised to put the tiny island nation on the map in the same way Kenyans and Ethiopians are known to dominate long-distance running. Jamaica’s Olympic track team is so deep in talent that these trials will be like watching American NBA stars vie for a spot on ™basketball’s famous Dream Team.
How does a poor Caribbean country of less than 3 million people produce such athletic riches? Improved coaching and a new system to develop raw talent at home have combined with a tradition of seeing sprinting as an inexpensive ticket out of poverty, observers say.
“Where we are today is [like] a flower,” says Anthony Davis, the sports director at Jamaica’s University of Technology (UTECH), whose programs and facilities helped shape some of Jamaica’s finest runners, including Mr. Powell and Bolt. “You’d have had to plant a seed long ago to get where we are today.”
And plant they did.
A little more than 30 years ago, former world-record sprinter Dennis Johnson decided to take what he’d learned at San Jose State University in the 1960s and set up a competitive, US-style college athletic program here in his home country. The goal: produce world-class athletes, especially track stars.
At the time, most considered this crazy talk.
Jamaica had long produced some of the world’s top high school track athletes, but then they left the island. There was no place in this former British colony’s college system for them. Postsecondary education is based on an older British model in which sports are merely a recreational break from the rigors of academia. The only hope of continuing track after high school was to get a scholarship to a foreign university.
Today, Jamaican sprinters still leave, and pad many NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) track rosters.
“In Louisiana, at a high school track meet, we’ll find maybe one or two athletes that could be good enough for [Louisiana State University’s track program],” says Dennis Shaver, head track coach of the 2008 NCAA championship LSU track team. “[But] in Jamaica, there are probably 50 women ready to fit right into the program every year.”
“Jamaicans have played a significant role in the 31 track and field championships we’ve won over the years,” he says, adding that Jamaica will be “very competitive in Beijing.”
Competing in the top US schools was, and is, a fast track out of poverty. The problem, as Mr. Johnson saw it, was that too many Jamaicans never came back home, and some even ran for other Olympic teams. (Donovan Bailey of Canada and Linford Christie of Britain are two examples of Jamaican-born Olympic champions.)
That’s why Johnson started a sports program at a two-year vocational college here, and that later became UTECH, a four-year college. Through Johnson’s work, which has since passed to Mr. Davis, the program now has 280 student athletes and houses the top professional track teams in Jamaica.
By US standards, the training facilities are second class. Jamaica’s top sprinters cram into UTECH’s tiny gym to pump rusty weights, and they often practice on the school’s basic grass track.
“We have to be creative, because we don’t have the resources,” says Davis, explaining that the lanes of the track are marked with diesel and burned because the school can’t afford the machine that lays down chalk lines every week or so. “We had a choice: complain about the resources and do nothing or work with what we have.”
Davis is pushing to attract more sponsors for UTECH’s programs. The British sports drink company Lucozade now offers two full track scholarships to UTECH, and Davis is hoping that success in Beijing will lead to funding for scoreboards and an indoor track surface. And he knows right where he’d put a new athletic center, if he ever gets the money. “We want someday to be the sports center of the Caribbean,” he says.
But UTECH’s program is only part of the reason for Jamaica’s sprinting prowess. “Coaches have played a very important role and are still playing an important role,” says Herb Elliot, a Jamaican member of the International Amateur Athletics Federation’s Medical and Anti-Doping Commission. “NCAA scouts come here in droves to recruit, but our athletes often come back [from four years at US universities] tired and mediocre,” says Mr. Elliot.
Among the most effective Jamaican coaches today is Powell’s coach, Stephen Francis, who founded the Maximizing Velocity and Power (MVP) team in 1999 after getting his MBA from the University of Michigan. “My background is different from most coaches, who were former athletes,” says the rotund Mr. Francis, explaining that the Jamaican track establishment did not appreciate his maverick style.
“My philosophy is based on doing things the hard way,” he says. “We don’t recruit superstars.” He looks for latent talent and chooses coachable sprinters who don’t have supersized egos.
Brigitte Foster-Hylton is one of Francis’s first success stories. When she started working with him in 1999, most didn’t see her potential. But she’s cut more than half a minute off her time in the 100-meter hurdles and won bronze in the event at the 2005 World Championships.
Powell – who says in a matter-of-fact manner that he is still the world’s fastest man despite Bolt’s record run – is another Francis success story.
Powell struggled as the youngest of six siblings growing up in the Jamaican countryside. He was a good sprinter in high school, but not among Jamaica’s very best. A few years ago, one brother was shot to death in a New York cab and another died of a heart attack. The tragedies might have derailed some athletes.
Both of his parents are pastors and he credits a strict upbringing for his focus. “I couldn’t miss one day in church and my mom and dad still call to see if I’m going to church,” he says. “None of this would’ve been possible without God, and I pray to him each and every day. But I know that God helps those who help themselves, so I try to help myself.”
He says he’s ready to win the Olympic gold medal that eluded him four years ago.
But given the recent convictions and confessions of steroid use by track and field athletes, some skeptics question the success of Jamaican sprinters. There have been no recent cases of Jamaicans caught using performance-enhancing drugs. “We are far in advance of the US record for [preventing] doping,” says Elliot, who’s the top enforcement official in Jamaica. “We preach, cajole, and test,” he says. Jamaica makes its athletes available for sudden testing 24/7.
Besides, Elliot says, Jamaica won’t tolerate cheats. “Sports is such a part of our culture that the disgrace [of doping] is so great that the Jamaicans that live here wouldn’t even consider it.”
For now, Jamaicans are reveling in having the world’s two fastest men heading into the Beijing Olympics.
“In the sprints, we’re as good as any,” says Fitz Coleman, a technical coach on Bolt’s team who is widely regarded as one of Jamaica’s best hurdles coaches. “In fact, we just might be the measuring stick at this point in time.”
Another reason for Jamaicans’ success: their attitude, according to Mr. Coleman. “We genuinely believe that we’ll conquer,” he says. “It’s a mindset. We’re small and we’re poor, but we believe in ourselves.”