Local experts believe the writing was on the wall for Jamaica’s historic win over the United States in their Gold Cup semi-final in the United States yesterday.The Reggae Boyz have only ever beaten the United States once at senior level and yesterday’s win was even more significant and historic as it put the Boyz in CONCACAF’s premier football championship decider for the first time.Former national assistant coach, Bradley Stewart, says team spirit and confidence have been high since the tournament started, and defensively they are difficult to break down.”I always felt they had a good chance of winning,” Stewart said.”The confidence that the coach has in the players and the confidence the players have in themselves have all been showing and, I thought a lot of that came through in the game,” Stewart added. “If we turn over the US and then Mexico … then our stocks would sore sky high.”Harbour View’s general manager, Clyde Jureidini, also believes this win will have a wonderful ripple effect on the national football programme and team. He, too, thinks a lot of credit must go to the defensive unit for the result and the performance throughout the tournament..”The US would have been the favourites, they would have the history of more victories (against Jamaica) and have more big game experience, so they are always favoured to beat Jamaica.”But coach Klinsmann starting a 5-3-2 formation was a major blunder … and Jamaica used the space to play more confidently and stronger in midfield, got our attack going and scored two excellent goals. It was a deserved victory. Our defensive discipline helped us a lot, we managed the game professionally and the two dead-ball situations provided clear evidence that we came prepared,” he noted.Arnett Gardens and national under-23 assistant coach Jerome Waite agreed that the team was well prepared and are now reaping the fruits of the preparations.”The preparation from the Copa (America) led to what the team is doing now.”We also have to give coach Sch‰fer credit. He is out of Germany and was up against another German coach (Juergen Klinsmann), but the silver fox outsmarted the young fox,” he added.
LONDON, England:He came to breathe life into a stadium that many consider a White Elephant these days, but in the end, Usain Bolt’s two 100-metre runs at yesterday’s Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games, had Lazarus-like effects on his own season, as he left a soaking London Olympic Stadium in burning excitement.Two races, two wins, twice the clock showed 9.87, as track and field’s poster boy crossed the line and perhaps wiped the smile off his rivals’ faces in front of nearly 50,000 pro-Bolt fans.Even worse – or better, depending on your perspective – Bolt, who had not gone this fast since the Brussells Diamond League in September 2013, seems to have more, shaking his head after the second of his two assignments, disappointed that he did not post a faster time. You would think that a man who has been struggling the way he has since the start of the season would throw a party after clocking 9.87 twice within an hour, in negative wind (-0.8) and wet and chilly conditions.Message to himselfStill, the world 100m and 200m Olympic and world champion feels his triumphant return to London – and form, is more a message to himself – even if he did have something to say to those with gold medal ambitions for next month’s World Championships in Beijing.”I was never number two. I am still number one. So, that’s the plan until I retire,” Bolt affirmed.”This does help my confidence going into the World Championships and it helps that I can see the results after putting in the work on the track. So it looks good,” added Bolt.Like he did in the heat a bit earlier American Mike Rodgers was second, clocking 9.90 with another Jamaican Kemar Bailey-Cole, the Commonwealth champion, taking third in the fastest time he has ever registered, 9.92. It did seem to come at a price, however, with the towering sprinter suffering cramp in both legs. Nesta Carter finished seventh in 10.08.Bolt, who came into the meet with 62 athletes running faster than his 10.12 posted earlier this year, is now the sixth fastest in the world, but there’s no doubting where he intends to be by the time he leaves Beijing.The sprinter says he will talk to his coach about whether or not another race is necessary with the possibility of an appearance at the upcoming Stockholm Diamond League. He also noted that he will probably pay another visit to his doctor Hans-Wilhelm M¸ller-Wohlfahrt to ensure everything is in order.Kimberly Williams, 14.15m was second in the women’s triple jump after surrendering the lead to Olga Rypakova (Kazakhstan), whose 14.33m win took her to second place in the diamond race with Dana Veldakova (Slovakia), 13.66m taking third.McPherson third in 400mIn the first track event of the evening, the women’s 400 metres, Stephenie-Ann McPherson was the best-placed Jamaican, finishing third in 50.91 with American Natasha Hastings, holding off country-woman Francena McCorory, 50.67, after running a season best 50.24.Both Novlene Williams-Mills and Christine Day posted 51.43 with Williams-Mills finishing a place ahead of Day in fifth.It was another tough day in the office for world leading discus man Jason Morgan, who fouled twice, settling with a 59.60m mark, which left him languishing in ninth position.The event was won by Philip Milanov (Belgium), 65.14m who moved into third place in the Diamond race with four points with Robert Urbanek (Poland), 64.47m and Benn Harradine (Australia), 63.98m taking second and third places respectively. Diamond race leader Piotr Malachowski (13 points) was fourth with 63.83m.The Jamaican-based Zharnel Hughes (Great Britain) posted a personal-best 20.05 to win the 200 metres ahead of Dedric Dukes (USA), 20.14 and Anaso Jobowana (South Africa), 20.20. Jamaicans Nickel Ashmeade, 20.24 and Julian Forte, 20.25 were fourth and fifth.Jasmin Stowers was back to her best, winning the 100m hurdles in 12.47 ahead of Dawn Harper-Nelson, 12.64 and Brianna Rollins, 12.65 in another US sweep in the event.Elaine Thompson is the only Jamaican in action on today’s final day of the two-day meet. She competes in the 200m at 9:58 a.m.
BEIJING, China:National discus and Pan American champion, Federick Dacres, is not putting too much pressure on himself as he gets ready to compete in his first major international competition, the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.Dacres, who just over a year ago underwent knee surgery to repair damages to his meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament, is reaping the spoils of his first full season as a senior athlete and says he is looking forward to being able to give his best effort in Beijing, with one eye set on first of all progressing to the final of the competition.”I feel good. It’s my first real senior year because I was injured last year, and so it’s my first year finishing the season. It really feels good to be here,” he told The Gleaner.”It was difficult to come back from that injury. Being injured takes a toll on the mind, and I was worried about how I could get back and I didn’t want to be a has-been or something like that, so I just focused on getting stronger while I couldn’t use my legs and when I got my legs back, I focused on strengthening the legs,. and it has brought me here, so I feel good,” added Dacres.”I’m just throwing and hoping to give my best, and I hope that I can do something in the final, so I’m going in with an open mind to see what can happen,” Dacres said.The former World Youth and World Junior champion says he was boosted by his win at the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association/Supreme Ventures Limited National Senior Championships, where he got the better of fellow World Championships qualifiers Jason Morgan and Chad Wright.”Every title counts, so winning the national title has certainly helped my confidence, and I’m going into the World Championships confident that I can do well and deliver on the day,” said Dacres. “Mentally, I am where I need to be. I have thrown 66 metres twice this year and I have had a good year, so my mind is here, and hopefully, my body will follow through.”Dacres’ season best of 66.40m makes him the second-best Jamaican this year behind Morgan’s national record of 68.19m and the 10th best on the planet.
One of the most long-standing and controversial rules in Davis Cup tennis, that the tie-breaker cannot be used in the fifth set of a match, will be changed in 2016.This was one of the major changes made at the annual general meeting of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) on September 25 in Santiago, Chile, at which a new president, David Haggerty of the United States, was elected to lead the ITF for the next four years. He succeeds Francesco Ricci Bitti from Italy, who served as president for 16 years.The local tennis fraternity has hailed the rule, and former Davis Cup player and captain, Richard Russell, told The Gleaner that he is ” happy that the change has come about” and said further that “this should have happened a long time ago”.The fifth set no tie-breaker rule has been a sore point in Davis Cup tennis for many years as the tie-breaker is used in all sets except the fifth and final set. Russell recalls, however, that there was a time when there was no tie-break rule, and how this made matches go on and on. He, himself, he told The Gleaner was involved in a doubles match that lasted over five hours.A new high was reached in Davis Cup tennis in March this year when Leonardo Mayer from Argentina defeated Joao Souza from Brazil, in a singles match that lasted six hours and 43 minutes. The final set in that match, lasted two hours and 30 minutes, and it is believed that this strengthened the case for those administrators who wanted the change to be made.The goal in a tie-breaker, after the score reaches 6-6, is to score seven points first. To win the set, a player has to win the tie-breaker by two points. Without the tie-breaker, the match goes on until one player leads by two games.Only tie-breakerOf interest is the fact that the only Grand Slam tournament that has a final-set tie-breaker rule at this time is the US Open. They have been using it there since 1970, but at Wimbledon, the Australian, and French Grand Slam tournaments, play has to go on in the final set until one player leads by two games.The longest match in history was at Wimbledon on June 4, 2010, when John Isner defeated Nicholas Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 in 11 hours and five minutes over a three-day period. The final set lasted eight hours and 11 minutes. Not surprisingly, Isner was so tired for his next match against Thiemo de Bakker – that he lost it in 74 minutes, 0-6, 3-6, 2-6.
Excitement, marksmanship, and intense clay shooting action will return to the Jamaica Skeet Club today when their season curtain-raiser, the Bernard Cridland Memorial, gets underway at 10:30 a.m. at the Portmore Range in St Catherine. Following what was described as “a very enjoyable bird shooting season,” it’s now to the clay circuit in an event named in honour of former shooter Bernard Cridland. Registration fee is $1,000, and registration will begin at 9 a.m. and will be followed by the customary 10:30 shotgun start. The competition format will be 100 birds sporting, with prizes being awarded to winners and runners-up in classes A, B, C, D and E; juniors; subjuniors; and ladies. Today, participants and supporters can expect nothing but fun-rivalry and intense to-the-wire shooting, according to Jamaica Skeet Club president Khaleel Azan. “We will have a course that will have targets to please the beginners, intermediate and advanced shooters. “We are expecting a large turnout, so we need to have early registration and a shotgun start,” Azan told The Sunday Gleaner. He added that only Skeet Club ammunition would be used in today’s shoot, while food and drinks would be on sale all day. The president gave the assurance that the Skeet Club is looking to start the season in fine style, with multiple world champion and world renown shooting instructor Ben Husthwaite scheduled to visit Jamaica from November 24-30 to impart ‘world-class’ lessons at the Portmore Range. The cost for lessons is US$125 per hour.
After watching the Reggae Boyz slump to their second consecutive home defeat just three games into the Russia 2018 World Cup campaign in the most pathetic and gutless manner, I am now fully convinced that the much-celebrated performance in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup – where they went all the way to the final – was nothing but a fluke. I thought it was, even as it unfolded, but I never said it. I make no apologies saying now that the Gold Cup run was a flash in the pan display that could well turn out to be “a curse in disguise” and might well turn out to be the worst thing to happen to this team, and indeed, the entire football programme. For the record, the word fluke as defined by the Concise Oxford Dictionary means ‘AN UNLIKELY CHANCE OCCURRENCE, ESPECIALLY A STROKE OF LUCK’. There can be no clearer, more concise word used to contextualise the Gold Cup performances as they relate to the way the team is playing now, and the results it is getting. I remember during that surprise Gold Cup run the debate erupted as to whether this team of 2015 is a better team than the 1998 World Cup Qualifying team, with the core argument emerging from the euphoria being that there are more players in this current team playing a higher level of football, including in the English Premier League, with the vast majority of them being overseas-based professionals. I remember responding then that the 1998 group was far better as a functional team, with more individual match winners and more on-field leaders and that the 1998 team was more consistent over a longer period when compared to the current “collection of players”. Regardless of what happens from here, any person who makes that comparison again should be committed forthwith to a mental institution. Yet another dispute over contracts and payment on the eve of the Panama game obviously never helped the cause, but more important, it points to the headspace of the individuals in this team and again brings into focus the questionable commitment of this group. To be soundly outplayed and beaten and tactically outfoxed in front of the home fans in and of itself is bad. But even more, the cardinal sin was to be outhustled and outmuscled by a Panama team playing with more heart, hunger, and tenacity is unforgivable. The Jamaican players generally looked disgracefully lethargic and uninterested in representing the country. I was indeed surprised that there wasn’t more booing of the team at the stadium on Friday night. Not only was the underperformance deserving of boos, I think it was a lost opportunity to send a clear message to this group that Jamaica deserves better than they are giving. Issues of tactical manoeuvring and team selection aside, the general LACK OF EFFORT on the part of the majority of the players is a clear sign that this team is going nowhere – and fast. Inevitably, the question must be asked again in a very serious way, are we pursuing the right philosophy in scampering off to England to coax more and more second-rate foreign-born players who know just as much about Jamaica as we know about their commitment to the Jamaican cause? Is the right BALANCE being struck between the pursuance of these foreign-born players and the development and systematic incorporation of more Jamaica-born players with the desired heart, passion, fire, and commitment to represent Jamaica? Those who have eyes to see, let them see!
Tomorrow’s well-supported 11-race programme at Caymanas Park offers a Pick-9 carryover of $1.4 million despite no major upsets last Saturday.The Pick-9 will be conducted from race three to 11 the first Super-6 from race one to six, the late Super-6 from race six to 11.We look at the first Super-6 with a guaranteed minimum of $750,000, this for native-bred three-year-olds and up over 1400 metres, to be contested by seven starters.Included in the line-up are three useful three-year-olds – ZUGULU, JAMAI RAJA and CRUISING MOTION, who has won twice for champion trainer Wayne DaCosta since the start of the season.ZUGULU has not lived up to early expectations in recent months and could only manage fifth to SHINING LIGHT over 1100 metres last Saturday. However, he looks the obvious leader, and given this milder pace, will have to be caught. I believe the four-year-old colts SILVER CLOUD and ORIGINAL TRAIN have the ability to overhaul ZUGULU over this trip, especially the DaCosta-trained grey colt SILVER CLOUD, who has won two of his last races here in good company and only needs a clean break to rebound with Robert Halledeen aboard.SMART TRAIN, to be ridden by champion jockey Shane Ellis for trainer Morris Powell, is not the most reliable of horses, but pitted against 11 moderate rivals in the second race over 1400 metres for maiden five-year-olds and up, should finally deliver.The five-year-old mare, who failed by a neck to catch OMEGA over 1500 metres on November 21, reports well drawn on the outside and gets the nod over QUEEN OF THE TOWN, MY FAVOURITE DANCER, and DEPUTY HEADGIRL, all fit animals.Race number three, division one of the Eight Thirty Sprint three-year-old Maiden Special over the straight, this marking the start of the three-year-old campaign leading up to the classics, has attracted two well-advanced fillies in PINELOPE (Ellis up) and DANCING QUEEN, with Ian Spence riding for 14-time champion trainer Philip Feanny.Both have looked sharp in recent exercise gallops over the straight, but preference is for the Dwight Chen-trained PINELOPE, a bay filly by Porto Santo out of Black Thatch, who has been more extensively prepared than DANCING QUEEN.tough-looking raceNext on the programme is a tough-looking $250,000-$210,00 claiming race over the straight to be contested by 13 mostly fit horses. Leading lights are recent winners ETERNAL JOY from the in-form stables of – Neive Graham, BATTLE SONG and FFIFTYONESTORM, as well as AUNT HILDA, CLEARLY OURS,WINESHA, and INFANTRY OFFICER.Given the competitive nature of this race, I would implore punters to use multiple choices. ETERNAL JOY could prove the fastest of all, and although not the best drawn, will have to be caught with only 53.0kg. Preference, however, is for FIFTYONESTORM (Jevanne Erwin up), who beat a good field over the course last Boxing Day and has shown good speed in his races.The last two races in the first Super-6 should be won by POISON GAS (Omar Walker up), who showed promise on her recent debut behind GLOBAL and NO COINCIDENCE (regaining form).FIRST SUPER-6 FANCIES(1) SILVER CLOUD/ORIGINAL TRAIN(2) SMART TRAIN/MY FAVOURITE DANCER(3) PINELOPE(4) FIFTYONESTORM/ETERNAL JOY(5) POISON GAS/DUTCHESS URIEL(6) NO COINCIDENCE/CLASSICAL TRAIN
Punters were stunned into silence at Caymanas Park yesterday following a huge upset by LARUSA at 95-1 in the seventh race over 1300 metres for five-year-olds and up, non winners of two.Ridden by 4.0kg claiming apprentice Jerome Innis for trainer Rudolph Hardial, the six-year-old mare, whose form over the past year had been dismal, to say the least, emerged from the doldrums to hold off 4-5 favourite OMEGA and 9-5second favourite GIRSHOMin a driving finish. This ensured there would be carryovers to Saturday in both the Pick-9 and late Super-6.Both the jockey and trainer werepleasantly surprised despite not being too optimistic about the chances of LARUSA based on her indifferent form.Hardial disclosed that the chestnut mare by Tracking out of Yourpointismade finished lame in her last race behind Awesome Marque over the straight ($180,000 claiming) on January 31, but got significantly close (91/2 lengths ninth) that day and he anticipated an improved performance.”I told the rider to put her in the pace from early and see where it takes her. When I saw her in front entering the straight, I knew then that she could hold on and just barely made it. That’s the nature of racing … a horse can throw the form out the window at any time and surprise everyone,” said Hardial, who had his fair share of challenges with his string of horses in recent times.FIFTH CAREER WINInnis, a past student of Eltham High in St Catherine, said he rode LARUSA to the trainer’s instructions and things just fell into place.”She turned for home full of running with Omega in chase and responded well to the right hand stick for the victory,” said the 27-year-old apprentice, who notched up his fifth career win since graduating from the Jockeys’ School last September.On a day when top jockeys Dane Nelson and Shane Ellis rode two winners each, the 2014 champion sprinter POTCHEEN, running on strongly at odds of 5-2 with Jevanne Erwin aboard, out-finished the highly-fancied PUDDY POOH by half a length over the straight to win the open allowance feature in the good time of 57.2.
EVERTON VS BOURNEMOUTH, GOODISON PARKEverton have won only four home league games – only relegated Villa have won fewer (2) – and they last won in front of their home fans in the Premier League in early February against Newcastle. Since then, Everton have taken one point from a possible 12 at home. Bournemouth have lost four of their last five.NEWCASTLE VSCRYSTAL PALACENewcastle are unbeaten in their last three league games, winning just one, but remain in a perilous position, in 19th spot and a point from safety. Importantly, the two teams immediately above them, Norwich City and Sunderland, have a game in hand. Palace reached the FA Cup final thanks to Sunday’s 2-1 semi-final win over Watford, and while they have 39 points, they need another win to be sure of their top-flight status.STOKE CITY VSSUNDERLANDSunderland have lost just one of their last seven Barclays Premier League game though five have been drawn, including last Sunday’s 0-0 stalemate with Arsenal. Sunderland travel to Stoke having conceded 39 away goals this season. Only Newcastle (41) have let in more away from home. But they have kept three clean sheets in their last four – after conceding in each of their previous 16.WATFORD VSASTON VILLAWatford return to Vicarage Road, where they have both scored and conceded 15 goals. Only Villa, with 14, have scored fewer home goals, but the 15 conceded is two fewer than league leaders Leicester City. Relegated Villa have lost their last 10 league games. The club record for straight defeats is 11, set between March 23 and May 5, 1963.WEST BROM VSWEST HAMOn Monday night, WBA drew 1-1 at Tottenham, a point which takes them 10 points clear of the relegation zone. West Ham, meanwhile, are sixth on 56 points. If they stay there, it will be the Hammers’ highest place since they came fifth in 1998-99. The 57 goals they have now scored is their best return ever in the Premier League, beating their previous record of 56 goals scored during the 1997-98 season.SWANSEA CITY VSLIVERPOOLLiverpool are flying high with three wins and two draws from their last five games in the Barclays Premier League. Swansea are 15th in the Premier League on 40 points, nine points clear of the relegation zone with three games to go. They have scored only 34 goals, 10 fewer than their previous fewest in the Premier League, in 2011-12.
LONDON (CMC):Jamaica international Clayton Donaldson missed a first-half penalty, but made amends with a successful second-half effort, as Birmingham City edged Fulham 1-0 in the English Championship on Saturday.Forward Donaldson, who played 16 minutes in the Reggae Boyz’ 2-0 defeat to Haiti in their final World Cup qualifying game last Tuesday in Kingston, was on target on 49th minutes to help lift Birmingham to fourth in the standings.They have 11 points from six outings and are five adrift of top-placed Huddersfield.Donaldson’s strike was his third in two games, following his double against Norwich a fortnight ago.He had a golden opportunity to put Birmingham ahead away at Craven Cottage when Michael Madl – eventually sent off for a second yellow – hauled Che Adams to the ground in the 26th minute.But he watched in disappointment as his right-footed shot to the left was saved by goalkeeper David Button.The scores were locked nil-all at half-time, but Donaldson broke the stalemate four minutes into the second half. Floyd Ayite brought down Adams and this time Donaldson made no mistake from the spot, to put the visitors ahead for good.Donaldson, 32, is in his third season at the West Midlands club and has scored 29 goals from 87 appearances.