Paul Wright | Delightful and frustrating weekend
The much ballyhooed weekend of sports has ended with Jamaican sport fans torn between delight, anger and frustration. The Windies have all but been eliminated from the ICC World Cup but in defeat against New Zealand, one of only two teams in the tournament who are so far unbeaten. We actually believed that we could have won!
Carlos Braithwaite, the much-maligned all-rounder on the team, single-handedly brought his team to within six runs of one of the most unlikely victories in this competition. His unrestrained attack on the New Zealand bowlers and his protection and shepherding of the tail-enders in the side is the stuff of legends.
Who would have thought that this hero from the previous ICC World Twenty20 defeat of England over three years ago could have one more shot at immortality after some very ordinary and uninspiring performances in this World Cup? Yet, for those who were watching, hope (not the cricketers this time) was the dominant emotion as we willed this giant of a man to what would be a series-saving victory.
Now, although mathematically possible, qualifying for the next round is decidedly unlikely. Still, now that Kemar Roach has been forgiven by the on-tour selectors for whatever misdemeanour he may have committed which prevented his selection in any of the earlier matches, we may see an improved performance from a team with only pride to play for.
Hopefully, one day after the team returns, there may be an explanation for the really bizarre selection of players for some of the games played so far. That is if the transparency promised by the new head of Cricket West Indies, Ricky Skerritt, is . I really hope and can’t wait for Phil Simmons, with his penchant for rescuing teams in the doldrums of world rankings, to return to his rightful post as head coach.
The JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior and Junior Athletic Championships over four days last week revived our hopes of continued dominance in athletics in the post-Bolt era.
Showing no obvious discomfort from a year-long Achilles tendon discomfort, Elaine Thompson continued where she left off in the Olympics with a double in the 100 and 200m events, both in world leading performances.
Times of 10.73 seconds in the 100m and 22.00 in the 200m have signalled to the world that our double sprint champion is back to her best.
Extremely bad news for some British and American sprinters who were harbouring hopes of victory in the World Championships later this year.
This does not in any way diminish the outstanding return to world leading sprinting of our own double Olympic sprint champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Her 10.73 seconds in the 100m and 22.22 in the 200m was simply outstanding. I could almost hear Zyon Pryce urging on Mummy as she defied time and added responsibilities to reclaim her position as one of the favourites for a podium finish in the IAAF World Championships.
Her message to fans and fellow athletes: “Believe.” Wow! Is there any doubt that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the greatest female sprinter of all time? Go ,Mummy Rocket, Go.
There were other notable results at the weekend. The return to injury-free sprinting of Yohan Blake; season-best performances form Demish Gaye in the 400m; Shericka Jackson’s 49.83 seconds in the 400m; Shanieka Ricketts and Kimberly Williams both jumping over 14m in the triple jump; and our throwers Fedrick Dacres; and Traves Smikle, in the discus, and O’Dayne Richards and Danniel Thomas-Dodd, in the shot put augur well for a large medal haul in October. But, while our athletes did us proud with their talent and determination to do well, once again, the authorities had to make sure that no event could be finished at the National Stadium without their incompetence, again showing the world why hosting a Diamond League event here in Jamaica is indeed a long, long way away.
The inconsistency in the way the start crew handles false starts and faulty starts continues to amaze athletes and fans alike. The IAAF rule regarding a false start, as I understand it, is unequivocal in stating that if an athlete is accused of a false start and objects immediately, then the athlete IS ALLOWED to run under protest!
At these championships, we saw officials adjusting what appeared to be microphones to starting blocks AFTER a so-called faulty start. In the past, athletes (with clout), who protested a disqualification were allowed to run after further review. In the women’s 100m hurdles on Sunday night, Danielle Williams was accused of a false start and disqualified by the officials at the start. She immediately protested, but the crew insisted that she vacate the area. The much-delayed rerun was also recalled after a faulty start when some of the hurdlers stopped, some didn’t and chaos ensued.
The re-run has to be abandoned as some of the runners complained of injuries, and the much delayed final event, the men’s 110m hurdles event, was eventually started after much begging and pleading by the athletes themselves. What a shame! When will the individuals in this now recurring farce at the start of races be investigated and action taken to prevent recurrences? When?