Elton Tucker, Assistant Sports Editor
POWELL AND CAMPBELL
THERE IS high optimism that Jamaica's contingent will depart Melbourne, Australia on March 27 with its largest ever medal haul from the Commonwealth Games.
In Manchester, England four years ago, Jamaica won four gold in a 17-medal haul. Fourteen medals came in track and field. Swimmer Janelle Atkinson (two bronze) and the netballers who placed third behind Australia and New Zealand were responsible for the other three.
Jamaica will be represented in ten sports at the Games. In addition to track and field, the island's colours will be seen in the paralympic events, netball, swimming, squash, badminton, cycling, boxing, shooting and table tennis.
The 44-member track and field contingent to the March 15-26 Games and should easily improve on the gold medals won in Manchester.
Hot gold medal favourites for 2006 include world 100m record holder Asafa Powell, 2004 Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell in the half-lap event, 2005 World triple jump champion Trecia-Kaye Smith, the men's 4x100m, men's 4x400m, women's 4x100, women's 100m hurdles where World Championships silver and bronze medallists Delloreen Ennis-London and Brigitte Foster-Hylton and defending champion Lacena Golding-Clarke could make it a Jamaican one-two-three, the men's 110m hurdles where Maurice Wignall is ranked sixth in the world for 2006, Kemel Thompson in the men's 400m hurdles where the South Africans are also very strong and decathlete Maurice Smith the only world top 50 ranked athlete who will be in the event in Melbourne.
Other athletes who should be among the medals are World Championships 100m silver medallist Michael Frater, national 800m champion Kenia Sinclair who just missed out on a place in last year's World Championships final, defending long jump champion Elva Goulbourne, Lorraine Fenton in the women's 400m and Jermaine Gonzales, who is now injury-free and appears ready to fulfil his enormous potential.
|Karen Beautle,||high jump|
|Sheri-Ann Brooks, ||200m, 4x100m|
|Veronica Campbell ||200m, 4x100m|
|Peta-Gaye Dowdie, ||100m, 4x100m|
|Deloreen Ennis-London, ||100m hurdles|
|Brigitte Foster-Hylton, ||100m hurdles|
|Lorraine Fenton, ||400m, 4x400m|
|Lacena Golding-Clarke, ||100m hurdles|
|Elva Goulbourne, ||long jump|
|Korine Hinds, ||3000m, steeplechase|
|Arieta Martin, ||marathon|
|Olivia McKoy, ||javelin|
|Sherone Simpson, ||200m, 4x100m|
|Kenia Sinclair, ||800m|
|Ronetta Smith, ||400m, 4x400m|
|Trecia-Kaye Smith, ||triple jump|
|Shavon Stewart, ||400m hurdles|
|Novlene Williams, ||400m 4x400m|
|Shellene Williams, ||400m, 4x400m|
|Shericka Williams, ||400m, 4x400m|
|James Beckford, ||long jump|
|Omar O. Brown, ||200m|
|Davian Clarke, ||400m, 4x400m|
|Lerone Clarke, ||4x100m|
|Lansford Davis, ||4x400m|
|Michael Frater, ||100m, 4x100m|
|Jermaine Gonzales, ||400m, 4x400m |
|Andrew Gutzmore, ||marathon|
|Dean Griffiths, ||400m hurdles|
|Christopher Pinnock, ||110m hurdles|
|Asafa Powell, ||100m, 4x100m|
|Dorian Scott, ||shot put|
|Maurice Smith, ||decathlon|
|Lansford Spence, ||4x400m|
|Winston Smith, ||100m, 4x100m|
|Kemel Thompson, ||400m hurdles|
|Ainsley Waugh, ||100m, 4x100m|
|Wilbert Walker, ||triple jump|
|Ian Weakley, ||400m hurdles|
|Maurice Wignall, ||110m hurdles|
|Christopher Williams, ||200m.|
|Garth Gayle ||(manager)|
|Vilma Charlton, ||asst. manager|
|Noel Tavares, ||asst manager|
|Donald Quarrie, ||coach|
|Raymond Graham, ||coach|
|Winthrop Graham, ||coach|
|Trevor Campbell, ||coach|
|Kirkland Douglas, ||coach|
|Maurice Westney, ||coach|
Manager Garth Gayle was confident Jamaica will surpass the record medal haul of four years ago on the eve of the team's departure for Melbourne.
"We have a very strong team. Any country that can boast the likes of world record holder Asafa Powell, Olympic 200m gold medallist Veronica Campbell, World Championships triple jump gold medallist Trecia-Kaye Smith, World Championships 100m silver medallist Michael Frater, Kenia Sinclair who just missed making the World Championships final, Olympic finalists Maurice Wignall, Maurice Smith in the decathlon. Who else in the world can boast so many talented athletes?
"We intend to come back with a bounty of medals as Jamaica has a rich tradition to defend at the Games," Gayle said.
The track and field manager added that the withdrawal of defending 400m champion Michael Blackwood , Usain Bolt and Michelle Ballentine were 'big blows' but the team would make the adjustments and go forward.
Brad Hamilton, 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle and 50m and 100m butterfly.
Tamara Swaby, 50m and 100m freestyle; 50m and 100m butterfly, second time.
Alia Atkinson, 50m, 100m, and 200m breaststroke, 50m and 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley.
John Eyre, manager
Jacqueline Walter, coach
Coach Jackie Walter has pointed to Olympian Alia Atkinson as Jamaica's only medal hope in the pool.
"She is certainly going to be the one to look out for. We are hoping for finals from her and if she performs to her best there is also hope of a medal in the 50m breaststroke," Walter said.
"We are hoping for semi-finals from Brad Hamilton and Tamara Swaby. Hamilton is 16 and if he makes the semi-finals that would be a tremendous achievement. He is swimming much faster than at a similar time last year.
Gavin Hylton, team event, singles
Daryll Strachan, team event, singles, doubles
Nigel Webb, team event, singles, doubles
Keith Garvey, manager
Xue Enjie, coach
Commonwealth Games table tennis is regarded as the highest level of competition outside the Olympics and the World Championships and as such the quality of play will be very high in Melbourne.
The Jamaica Table Tennis Association (JTTA), which is looking to development and gaining experience, will have a young team in Melbourne.
Manager Keith Garvey said the players have all shown marked improvement since coming under the wings of the visiting Chinese coaches, but declared that it would be difficult to be among the medals.
"Canada, England, Nigeria and New Zealand will be among the top teams. A number of them have 'imported' some older Chinese players who are very good, but I am sure our players will do us proud," Garvey said.
Denis J. Nelson, full bore
David Rickman, full bore
Dawn Kobayashi, air pistol, indiv. 10m
Warren Blake, air pistol
Ronald Brown, air pistol
Denis Lee, manager
Carl Smith, coach
Denis Lee, was upbeat going into the Games.
"I am hoping that we will win some medals. We have an excellent shooter in David Rickman who will compete in the full bore. Rickman is the current Caribbean champion and is very experienced. We are also expecting a good showing from the Canada-based Dawn Kobayashi who has already had Olympic experience from the 2004 Games in Athens. She has a good chance.
"Ronald Brown has also been impressive in practice. We will be competing against strong teams like England, hosts Australia and Canada, but we are hoping he can reach the individual finals."
Dr Warren Blake has travelled to the Games before as a medical person but this is his first time as an athlete.
Iona Wynter points race, pursuit, time trial, scratch
Ricardo Lynch, time trial, sprint, kieren
Horace McFarlane, points race, time trial, road race
Oneil Samuels, points race, road race
Tinga Turner, road race
The Jamaican cycling contingent will pin their medal hopes on the outstanding Ricardo Lynch.
Lynch has been based in Switzerland for the past year on a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) scholarship and is creating some waves on the world cycling circuit.
According to manager Vaughn Phang, he is a "realistic medal prospect".
Lynch is the first Jamaican to qualify for the World Cycling Championships and is now in the top ten in both keiren and sprint.
"We will be going against some strong nations, the British(England, Scotland and Wales), Canadians, Australians and Malaysians, but Lynch has been exposed to the competition and he should do very well.
Lynch competed in Sydney on March 4 and will be fully acclimatised when the Games starts in four days' time.
Iona Wynter, who went to the 2000 Sydney Olympics as a triathlete, will have a hectic schedule, but Phang still expects her to be in the top ten in most of her events.
The other cyclists have been putting in a lot of work. McFarlane and Stewart have been based in California for the past two years riding for the RH Villa Club. Oneil Samuels is the only local-based rider on the team.
The cycling team has been the victims of thieves in the weeks leading up to the Games. McFarlane lost both his cycle and passport. His passport was replaced just two days before the team left for the Games, while he will ride a 'borrowed' cycle in Melbourne.
Sylvia Grant, shot put
Coleen Morrison, shot put
Tanto Campbell, discus
Suzanne Harris, manager, physiotherapist
Errol Williams, coach
Rose Williams, asst. personal care
Jamaica will be competing in the paralympic events at the Commonwealth Games for the first time. All three athletes have been entered in field events and Tanto Campbell, a bronze medalist in the discus at the Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004 is strongly tipped to improve on the quality of his medal.
Manager Suzanne Harris thinks he can do it.
"Those who beat him in Greece are not here so he has a glorious chance to medal," Harris said. She added that chances of Morrison and Grant will "depend on the opposition".
Athletes in paralympic events must have a disability and are put in classes based on the level of disability.
Karen Anderson, singles, ladies doubles
Marlene West-Rabess, singles, ladies doubles, mixed doubles
Christopher Binnie, singles, mixed doubles
Michael West, manager
The Commonwealth Games will attract the world's top squash players and, like table tennis, the Jamaicans will be looking to gain valuable experience.
"Commonwealth Games squash has the highest quality of any Games," manager Michael West said.
He added: "It is not an Olympic sport, but all the top players in the world come from Commonwealth countries like England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan. This should all ensure very fierce competition."
West said Jamaica's players are among the best in the Caribbean but are not in the Commonwealth rankings.
"At that level if you pass the first round you are doing very well," West said.
West is impressed with 17-year-old junior player Chris Binnie.
"He is ranked seventh overall in the Caribbean and No. 2 in Jamaica. He lost to Wayne Burrowes in the recent all-Jamaica final. Binnie is seen as the future of local squash and the one most likely to hit the big times. The Games will prove to be invaluable experience for him," West said.
Grand Cayman-based Marlene West-Rabess, the daughter of the manager, and Karen Anderson are both experienced players. West is a four-time Caribbean champion and missed last year's championships. Anderson is ranked in top four in the Caribbean and is the current all-Jamaica champion.
Alya Lewis, team event, singles, doubles, mixed doubles
Nigella Saunders, team event, singles, doubles, mixed doubles
Garron Palmer, team event, singles, doubles, mixed doubles
Charles Pyne, team event, singles, doubles, mixed doubles
Audley Astwood, manager
Kingsley Ford, coach
Manager Audley Astwood is looking to spring a few surprises at the Games.
At the last Commonwealth Games, Jamaica's men and women competed as separate teams but will now field a combined team.
"This time because of our balance we could spring a few
surprises," Astwood said.
"The world's top badminton countries, China, Japan and Indonesia are outside of the Commonwealth, but we are still going up against tough players from India, England, Canada and Malaysia."
Astwood will be banking on Olympian Nigella Saunders to lift the team.
"Her consistency and strokeplay puts her above the other players. She has been struggling for fitness, but is still playing fairly well," he said.
Omar Gavin, light heavyweight
Nicholas Walters, featherweight
Kingsley Goodison, manager
Barrington Graham, coach
Jamaica Boxing Board executive member and veteran boxing writer Leroy Brown will be looking to the hard punching Nicholas Walters to be among the medals.
"Walters won the flyweight gold at the Caribbean Amateur championships last year in devastating style. He knocked out all his opponents and is an extremely good fighter," Brown said.
Gavin, he added, is a hard worker, but he will be fighting in one of the more difficult divisions at the Commonwealth Games.
"There are also lots of good fighters in the lower divisions, but I think Walters has an excellent chance based on his recent record."
The Jamaican fighters went through extensive training under
visiting Cuban coach Dr. Samara Castro.
With their new-look team relatively untested, Jamaica's Sunshine Girls will go into Melbourne with big shoes to fill.
Finishing third the last time out, Jamaica boast many veterans from the 2002 Games.
Of that team, Oberon Pitterson, Elaine Davis, Nadine Bryan, Simone Forbes and Nichala Gibson will return.
Among the newcomers to the Games is Kasey Evering, who does an able job in the defensive circle. She is joined by first-timer Nicole Aiken, who brings some size to the back-court. There are also other newcomers in the squad, in young Jodi-Ann Ffrench, who happens to be Nadine Ffrench's sister, Latoya Thomas, Peter-Gaye Thomas, Marion Campbell and Tamara Hylton.
One of the questions that has followed the squad since its emergence from a hiatus after the 2003 World Championships is whether or not it can stand the test of international scrutiny with so many young players.
According to captain Davis, the answer won't be known until the team gets to the Commonwealth Games.
"We aren't thinking about that because it is wasting precious energy. We are just working with what we have, that's all we can do. We haven't even thought about who we don't have from the last time," said Davis.
"We've had time since the last time that we played and there have been improvements since that time so there is going to be a difference in terms of our performance," she added.
Antigua and Barbuda
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the
Trinidad and Tobago
JAMAICA AT THE GAMES
|YEAR||GOLD ||SILVER ||BRONZE|
|1934|| ||1 ||1|
|1958 ||4 ||2 ||1|
|1962 ||3 ||1 ||1|
|1966|| ||4 ||8|
|1970|| 4 ||2 ||1|
|1974|| 2 ||1 |||
|1978|| 2 ||2 ||3|
|1982 ||2 ||1 ||1|
|1990 ||2 || ||2|
|1994 ||2|| 4 ||2|
|1998|| 4 ||2 ||0|
|2002 ||4 ||6 ||7|
|Note: Jamaica did not enter the Games held in 1930, 1938, 1950 and 1986.|