Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 Empty seats — but plenty of passion — as Rio Paralympics gets going http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Empty-seats---but-plenty-of-passion---as-Rio-Paralympics-gets-going_73404 RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — The stadiums may be mostly empty but passionate fans and the enthusiastic Brazilian hosts insisted yesterday that the Rio Paralympics are off to a good start. Only a smattering of seats were taken at the 60,000-capacity Engenhao stadium for the beginning of track and field events in South America’s first Paralympics. The judo and table tennis arenas at the Olympic Park were both only about one-quarter full, although turnout was much better at the swimming centre, where Brazilian Paralympic star Daniel Dias — winner of six gold medals in London 2012 — was competing. At the Olympic Park, the main hub for the Paralympics and the Olympics which Rio hosted in August, volunteer Liliam Lima, 65, said the crowds were “much smaller than on the first day of the Olympics”. “Then it was more than twice as many people, maybe three or four times more,” she said, adding that she expects attendance to peak this weekend. When a staff member took the microphone during a break at the table tennis arena to ask who in the crowd would like a gift of an autographed ping pong ball, he didn’t seem to realise at first that nearly everyone had already left — there was no one to give the ball to. But where numbers lacked, enthusiasm filled the gap. About 100 Brazilians chanting “Brazil, Brazil!” and singing samba choruses at the table tennis venue made the place feel anything but empty. And Thabiso Ratsoane, a track coach from Lesotho, did his bit for the noise levels at the Engenhao, screaming encouragement every time one of his athletes took to the track. Organisers say they aren’t worried. A joyful, dramatic and even sensuous opening ceremony played to a sold-out Maracana stadium on Wednesday night. Organisers say that while there was deep concern a few weeks ago about unsold tickets, they are now on track for healthy attendance figures. “At this point we are very happy about the fact that the park is full of school-aged kids coming here to have a magical experience,” spokesman Mario Andrada told journalists, putting latest ticket sales at 1.7 million. Rio de Janeiro, like Brazil in general, is hardly wheelchair-friendly, so the Games are seen here as a chance to transform attitudes. “The main legacy of these Games is certainly to convince the Brazilian society that we need more inclusion, we need more accessibility and we need to understand our differences, remembering always that everybody has the same heart,” Andrada said. “I think the opening ceremony went in that direction spot-on. We could see people worried, we could see people crying, we could see people rethinking about these issues.” Jadir Antunes, who lost both legs in a car accident when he was six, said that access on public transport to the Olympic Park, where he was watching basketball, was excellent — but that Rio still has a long way to go. “It has been very good, well organised,” Antunes, 49, said, wheeling himself along. “But in Rio, things need to be a lot better. The pavements are broken, the buses have broken wheelchair lifts half of the time and the metro elevators often break and the people who operate them are not trained properly,” he said. Paul Eduardo Paggiossi, 54, a government employee from Sao Paulo state, also praised the free wheelchair service offered at the Olympic Park for visitors like his 13-year-old daughter Maria-Eduarda, who has been unable to walk properly since birth. “There was no cost for the chair and it’s all working well,” he said, pushing Maria-Eduarda toward the swimming pool arena. “But it’s only the first day. Let’s hope it works well. For someone with low mobility, 100 metres is like 10 kilometres. A person has to struggle a lot.” Local Sports 9/9/2016 12:00 AM Controversy at Rio 2016 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Controversy-at-Rio-2016 Local Sports 8/28/2016 6:00 AM The Lightning Bolt from Beijing to Rio http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/The-Lightning-Bolt-from-Beijing-to-Rio Local Sports 8/28/2016 5:56 AM Jamaica’s Rio Olympics results http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Jamaica-s-Rio-Olympics-results_71782 Jamaica Observer analyst Zaheer Clarke, has compiled below results of Jamaica’s athletes — women and men — who participated at the recently concluded Olympics Games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. WOMEN AISHA PRAUGHT 3,000m steeplechase Round 1 - Heat 3 9:35.79s (8th) Final 9:34.20s (14th) ALIA ATKINSON 100m breaststroke Heat 5 1:06.72s (2nd) Semi-final 3 1:06.52s (3rd) Final 1:08.10s (8th) ANNEISHA MCLAUGHLIN-WHILBY 4x400m relay Round 1 – Heat 2: Split: 49.9s; Team: 3:22.28s (1st) Final Split: 49.6s; Team: 3:20.34s (2nd) (SB) CHRISANN GORDON 4x400m relay Round 1 - Heat 2: Split: 50.49s; Team: 3:22.28s (1st) Final Did not run in the final CHRISTANIA WILLIAMS 100m Round 1 – Heat 6 11.27s (2nd) Semi-final 1 10.96s (3rd) (PB) Final 11.80s (8th) 4x100m relay Did not run in the first round Final Team: 41.36s (2nd) (SB) CHRISTINE DAY 400m Round 1 – Heat 8 51.54s (1st) Semi-final 3 51.53s (4th) 4x400m relay Round 1 – Heat 2: Split: 51.4s, Team: 3:22.28s (1st) Did not run in the final DAINA LEVY Hammer Qualifying Round Group A 60.35m (16th) DANNIEL THOMAS Shot Put Qualifying Round Group B 16.99m (14th) ELAINE THOMPSON 100m Round 1 – Heat 7 11.21s (1st) Semi-final 3 10.88s (1st) Final 10.71s (1st) 200m Round 1 – Heat 4 22.63s (2nd) Semi-final 1 22.13s (2nd) Final 21.78s (1st) (SB) 4x100m relay Did not run in first round Final Team: 41.36s (2nd) (SB) JANIEVE RUSSELL 400m hurdles Round 1 – Heat 3 56.13s (2nd) Semi-final 3 54.92s (2nd) Final 54.56s (7th) KELLION KNIBB Discus Qualifying Round 1 – Group B No Mark KENIA SINCLAIR 800m Round 1 - Heat 7 2:03.76s (7th) KIMBERLY WILLIAMS Triple Jump Qualifying Round – Group B 14.22m (4th) Final 14.53m (7th) LEAH NUGENT 400m hurdles Round 1 – Heat 2 55.66s (2nd) Semi-final 2 54.98s (3rd) Final 54.45s (6th) (PB) MEGAN SIMMONDS 100m hurdles Round 1 – Heat 6 12.81s (2nd) Semi-final 3 12.95s (5th) NATOYA GOULE 800m Round 1 – Heat 8 2:00.49s (3rd) NICKIESHA WILSON 100m hurdles Round 1 - Heat 4 12.89s (3rd) Semi-final 2 13.14s (7th) NOVLENE WILLIAMS-MILLS 4x400m relay Round 1 – Heat 2: Split: 50.58s; Team: 3:22.28s (1st) Final Split: 50.52s; Team: 3:20.34s (2nd) (SB) RISTANANNA TRACEY 400m hurdles Round 1 – Heat 1 54.88s (1st) Semi-final 3 (2nd) 54.80s Final 54.15s (5th) (PB) SASHALEE FORBES 4x100m relay Round 1 – Heat 1 Team: 41.79s (1st) Did not run in the final SHADAE LAWRENCE Discus Qualifying Round 1 – Group A 57.09m (12th) SHANIEKA THOMAS Triple Jump Qualifying Round – Group A 14.02m (7th) SHELLY-ANN FRASER-PRYCE 100m Round 1 – Heat 4 10.96s (1st) Semi-final 2 10.88s (1st) (SB) Final 10.86s (3rd) 4x100m relay Round 1 – Heat 1 Team: 41.79s (1st) Final Team: 41.36s (2nd) (SB) SHERICKA JACKSON 400m Round 1 – Heat 7 51.73s (1st) Semi-final 3 49.83s (1st) (PB) Final 49.85s (3rd) 4x400m Did not run in first round Final Split: 49.47s; Team: 3:20.34s (2nd) (SB) SHERMAINE WILLIAMS 100m hurdles Round 1 – Heat 1 12.95s (4th) Semi-final 1 12.86s (5th) SIMONE FACEY 200m Round 1 – Heat 3 22.78s (2nd) Semi-final 3 22.57s (3rd) 4x100m relay Round 1 – Heat 1 Team: 41.79s (1st) Did not run in the final SIMOYA CAMPBELL 800m Round 1 – Heat 6 2:02.07s (7th) STEPHENIE ANN MCPHERSON 400m Round 1 – Heat 1 51.36s (1st) Semi-final 1 50.69s (2nd) Final 50.97s (6th) 4x400m relay Did not run in the first round Final Split: 50.6s; Team: 3:20.34s TARASUE BARNETT Discus Qualifying Round 1 – Group B 58.09m (7th) TONI-ANN WILLIAMS Uneven bars 11.533 pts (78th) Floor exercise 13.200 pts (51st) Beam 12.133 pts (73rd) Individual all-around 50.966 pts (54th) VERONICA CAMPBELL BROWN 200m Round 1 – Heat 9 22.97s (3rd) 4x100m relay Round 1 Heat 1 Team: 41.79s (1st) Final Team: 41.36s (2nd) (SB) MEN ANDREW RILEY 110m hurdles Round 1 – Heat 3 13.52s (3rd) Semi-final 3 13.46s (4th) ANNSERT WHYTE 400m hurdles Round 1 – Heat 5 48.37s (1st) (PB) Semi-final 2 48.32s (1st) (PB) Final 48.07s (1st) (PB) ASAFA POWELL 4x100m relay Round 1 - Heat 2 Team: 37.94s (2nd) Final Team: 37.27s (5st) (SB) AUBREY SMITH Long Jump Qualifying Round Group A No Mark CLIVE PULLEN Triple Jump Qualifying Round Group A 16.08m (17th) DAMAR FORBES Long Jump Qualifying Round Group B 7.85m (4th) Final 7.82m (12th) DEUCE CARTER Men’s 110m hurdles Round 1 – Heat 6 13.51s (1st) Semi-final 1 13.69s (6th) FEDRICK DACRES Discus Qualifying Round – Group A 50.69m (17th) FITZROY DUNKLEY 400m Round 1 – Heat 1 45.66s (4th) 4x400m Did not run in the first round Final Split: 44.82s, Team: 2:58.16s (2nd) (SB) JAHEEL HYDE 400m hurdles Round 1 – Heat 4 49.24s (4th) Semi-final 1 49.17s (5th) JAVON FRANCIS 400m Round 1 – Heat 3 45.88s (3rd) Semi-final 1 44.96s (5th) 4x400m Round 1 – Heat 1 Split: 44.55s, Team: 2:58.29s (1st) Final Split: 43.78s, Team: 2:58.16s (2nd) (SB) JEVAUGHN MINZIE 4x100m relay Round 1 — Heat 2 Team: 37.94s (2nd) Did not run in the final KEMAR BAILEY-COLE 4x100m relay Round 1 — Heat 2 Team: 37.94s (2nd) Did not run in the final KEMOY CAMPBELL 5,000m Round 1 – Heat 1 13:30.32s (10th) NATHON ALLEN 4x400m Round 1 – Heat 1 Split: 43.52s, Team: 2:58.29s (1st) Final Split: 44.02s, Team: 2:58.16s (2nd) (SB) NICKEL ASHMEADE 100m Round 1 – Heat 3 10.13s (2nd) Semi-final 1 10.05s (5th) 200m Round 1 – Heat 6 20.15s (1st) Semi-final 1 20.31s (4th) 4x100m relay Round 1— Heat 2 Team: 37.94s (2nd) Final Team: 37.27s (1st) (SB) O’DAYNE RICHARDS Shot Put Qualifying Round – Group B 20.40m (7th) Final 20.64m (8th) OMAR MCLEOD 110m hurdles Round 1 – Heat 3 13.27s (1st) Semi-final 2 13.15s (1st) Final 13.05s (1st) PETER MATTHEWS 4x400m Round 1 – Heat 1 Split: 44.40s, Team: 2:58.29s (1st) Final Split: 45.54s, Team: 2:58.16s (2nd) (SB) ROXROY CATO 400m hurdles Round 1 – Heat 3 48.56s (4th) Semi-final 3 Disqualified RUSHEEN MCDONALD 400m Round 1 – Heat 6 45.22s (2nd) (SB) Semi-final 2 46.12s (6th) 4x400m Round 1 – Heat 1 Split: 45.82s, Team: 2:58.29s (1st) Did not run in the final TIMOTHY WYNTER 100m backstroke Heat 1 57.20s (2nd) USAIN BOLT 100m Round 1 – Heat 7 10.07s (1st) Semi-final 2 9.86s (1st) Final 9.81s (1st) 200m Round 1 – Heat 9 20.28s (1st) Semi-final 2 19.78s (1st) (SB) Final 19.78s (1st) (SB) 4x100m relay Round 1 — Heat 2 Team: 37.94s (2nd) Did not run in the first round Final Team: 37.27s (1st) (SB) YOHAN BLAKE 100m Round 1 – Heat 6 10.11s (1st) Semi-final 3 10.01s (2nd) Final 9.93s (4th) 200m Round 1 – Heat 2 20.13s (2nd) (SB) Semi-final 3 20.37s (6th) 4x100m relay Round 1 — Heat 2 Team: 37.94s (2nd) Final Team: 37.27s (1st) (SB) YONA KNIGHT-WISDOM 3m Springboard Preliminaries 416.55 pts (11th) Semi-finals 381.40 pts (14th) Local Sports 8/28/2016 12:00 AM The moral beauty of the Olympics http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/The-moral-beauty-of-the-Olympics_71819 One can always be cynical of the Olympics, especially the last Games held in Brazil, a country in the throes of political and economic turmoil. Rio de Janeiro, where most of the action was centred, is festooned by suffering, the muck and the grime of the well-advertised and well-known crime-infested favelas, the Brazilian version of what we know as ghettoes, dare I say garrisons. As if all this turbulence and upheaval were not enough to derail the efforts of a nation, Brazil, a proud country south of the equator, along with the entire world, had to grapple with the crippling reality of illegal drugs use by athletes in the many sporting disciplines. Russian athletes were tainted before the Games and their participation in Rio was severely limited. Some of these participating Russian athletes were jeered, mocked and were never given a moment by fellow competitors and spectators to forget their ill-advised drugs machinations. The cynics stood atop their pedestals in town crier mode, dangling the sword of Damocles from early in the Games; there was discomfort in the Olympic Village – no light, no water– and other maladies. If this was not enough when the actual competition started, the naysayers were served with early fodder to fuel the fire of their burgeoning doubts. Boxing judges were replaced for some very questionable decisions; the coach from Mongolia took off his pants when a wrestling medal decision went against his student; a Kirgiz weightlifter was sent home early after testing positive; two athletes were sent home for molesting women; a Kenyan official was sent home for tampering with urine samples; and a bus transporting journalists was allegedly shot up. The Brazilian authorities later said the bus was stoned. Then came what turned out to be a worldwide spectacle, when the water in the diving pool suddenly changed colour from the usual sky blue to green. The organisers scrambled to explain, nobody listened, thereby adding to Brazilian woes. More was to come. The ticket scandal involving Mr Hickey from Ireland and his subsequent incarceration was likened to the travails of the recent FIFA scandals, not surprisingly mainly in the British newspapers. Not done yet, as there was still Mr Ryan Lochte, the American swimmer who, after damaging property in a store in Rio, started a diplomatic furore when he reported that he was held up at gunpoint, robbed and assaulted. Thankfully, security cameras in the store were able to prove otherwise, prompting the now customary all-embracing apology and shame-face while making the rounds of the talk shows at home. That Mr Lochte lost his sponsorship entitlements with two of the largest companies involved in swimming was a fitting conclusion to this nasty, vile and mendacious act of cover-up. Total arrogance. Brazil was not bereft of its aches and pain before and during its hosting of the Games of the 31st Olympiad. Yet, in a city where Christ the Redeemer watches over one and all, even visitors, the Rio Olympics was transformed with some astounding performances spread across all sports, plus there were the never-to-forget moments which always remind us that we are humans. As Jamaicans we were transfixed with track and field, yet there were some compelling stories in the other disciplines. Surely, it must have been a feeling of complete and utter joy when a British gentleman competing in his seventh Olympics finally won a medal – and a gold to boot – in the dressage, and this after breaking his shoulder. Another British equestrian after winning gold could not hold back the tears. Her eyes then started to search the stands for her fiancée. When she made eye contact he was wearing a T-shirt with the words – “Now, can we get married? Truly a Kodak, oops, sorry, a Nikon moment. China, whose people are often seen as being automated, sometimes lacking in emotion, performed way below expectations in Rio. One moment, one precious moment of endearment involving two of its divers literally changed that perception. Qin Kai went on his knee, at the aquatics stadium, in front of almost the entire world and proposed to He Zi. For the scribes, Kai’s proposal was accepted. Brazil is a soccer-mad country, gifting the world with ‘the beautiful’ approach to football, yet even after winning five World Cups, the Olympic gold still eluded them. Enter Neymar, with the collective weight, anxiety, hopes and aspirations of a nation on his shoulders, as he prepared to take the last of the five regulatory penalties in the final match against Germany. If he scored, victory and the gold would belong to Brazil, if he failed, quite frankly, he would probably have to seek asylum in some country very far away from Brazil. Neymar, some Jamaicans claim, used not only his foot but divine intervention as well, to score, setting off wild celebrations as Brazilians finally found an outlet to shake off the ghosts of that 1-7 defeat to Germany just two years before in the World Cup in Brazil. It is instructive to pay notice to the words on the headband used by Neymar – 100% Jesus. Brazilian judoka Rafaela Silva fought off her demons to awaken and propel the social consciousness of her fellow Brazilians. Silva, a product of one of the fiercest Rio favelas, was the subject of racist abuse, face to face and on the social media platforms. Using the strength and gumption acquired from the bowels of her favela, Silva conquered, earning the first gold medal for Brazil at the Rio Olympics. She brought the Games back to home base. From the Jamaican perspective, Usain Bolt was imperious and Elaine Thompson provided further evidence of our worldwide sprint dominance. The two Jamaican moments which ignited my sinews and sporting nerves came when Omar McLeod won the country’s first ever Olympic gold medal in the 110m hurdles and when youngster Javaughn Minzie ran the first leg of the heats of the 4x100m relay. McLeod had gone where no other Jamaican had gone before, and with the sweat of victory flowing down his face, the young man shouted out several times, “Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus!” Minzie was champing at the bit, he had been in Rio from the time the Jamaica team set up its camp, and was now going to run almost two weeks after, in his first Olympic race. The joy, excitement and maybe amazement on the young man’s face were something special to behold. He had come to Rio to run, he was getting his opportunity to do so and he was ecstatic. If Minzie was a politician, I would be tempted to say youthful exuberance. The obliteration of the 400m world record by South African Wayde van Niekerk was a moment of great elation for this writer. I had met the young man when he visited the Jamaica Observer earlier this year to participate in the newspaper’s Monday Exchange just prior to the first staging of the Racers Grand Prix. He came early for his Observer appointment which gave me and others the opportunity to talk with him before the exclusive interview started. Wayde was calm, yet determined with only one objective in mind – gold in the 400m. Now, I can say, I have personally met three holders of world records – Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Wayde van Neikerk. Thanks for coming to the Observer and being with us, Mr van Neikerk. The Rio Olympics are done, but certainly not dusted. The Olympics move on to Tokyo, Japan in 2020 and if you ever doubted the power, allure and prestige of this four-yearly assembly of the world’s best, doubt no more as the closing ceremony in Rio gave a massive indication of the unique supremacy of the Olympic movement. Just imagine the prime minister of one of the top five countries in the world, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, appearing on stage in Rio dressed as Super Mario. My problem now is having to deal with Olympic withdrawal. I miss watching the Games, and despite having to deal with my Olympic withdrawal for which there is no cure until four years’ time, I am now thoroughly convinced that there is still meaning in the Olympics, that there is still much to celebrate and honour in clean and strong competition. Citius, Altius, Fortius – Faster, Higher, Stronger – and as said by the man credited with creating the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin – “these three words represent a programme of moral beauty.” Local Sports 8/28/2016 2:00 AM Ten lasting quotes from the 2016 Rio Games http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Ten-lasting-quotes-from-the-2016-Rio-Games_71836 “There you go. I’m the greatest.” - Usain Bolt on securing his ‘triple triple’ of 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay golds. “This is how I wanted to finish my career. I’ve lived a dream come true. Being able to cap it off with these Games is just the perfect way to finish.” - Michael Phelps after winning his 23rd gold medal. “We have survived a war. There are still kids who don’t know if their parents are alive, don’t have anything to eat or books to go to school. So the fact of becoming Olympic champion is just huge for all of us.” - Majlinda Kelmendi on winning Kosovo’s first Olympic gold medal at its maiden Games. “I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors and the hosts of this great event.” - US swimmer Ryan Lochte on his infamous fabricated story of being robbed at gunpoint in Rio. “A little tickle with a lob wedge. I thought it could handle that.” - Swedish golfer Henrik Stenson on dealing with a crocodile on the Rio course. “In 1936, the crowd was against Jesse Owens. We’ve not seen this since.” - French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie comparing his booing at the hands of Brazilian fans to the notorious treatment of Jesse Owens at Hitler’s Berlin Olympics in 1936. He later apologised. “For me the gymnastics of the second American (Aly Raisman) is more artistic than the first (Simone Biles). The first, it’s acrobatics.” - International gymnastics chief Bruno Grandi is not a fan of four-gold medal star Simone Biles. “He is just such a.... banana.” - British dressage gold medal winner Charlotte Dujardin on her fiancée Dean Golding who wore a shirt bearing the proposal: ‘Can we get married now?’ “The only thing I ever wanted was to compete in the Olympics.” - Syria’s Yusra Mardini, representing the Games’ first ever refugee team, after winning her 100m butterfly heat. “It’s great for kids who are watching judo now. Seeing someone like me who left the City of God, who started judo at five years of age as a joke.” - Judoka Rafaela Silva, raised in Rio’s most notorious favela, after winning Brazil’s first gold of the Games. Local Sports 8/28/2016 2:00 AM From Rio to London http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/From-Rio-to-London_71824 Jamaican track and field fans are still basking in the 11-medal haul at the XXXI Olympics that ended in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last week and while the celebrations will no doubt go on for a while, it is never too early to start looking ahead, even as some of our long-serving athletes get ready to leave the stage. Several of our long-standing and outstanding athletes have announced that Rio would be their final Olympic Games, including sprint superstar Usain Bolt and 400m runner Novlene Williams-Mills, and it is expected that several others will also be calling it a day. While it is unlikely we will see another athlete like Bolt in our lifetime, Jamaica will still hope to continue their dominance of the sprints and there will be no shortage of sprinters lining up to replace him and others who will be exiting the stage. We won’t have to wait until four years to see the new set of Jamaican athletes as in a few months’ time, the athletes will return to training as they seek to make the team that will represent Jamaica at the IAAF World Championships in London August 4-13 next year. Bolt has wild card entries in both the men’s 100m and 200m after he won the double last year in Beijing, China although he has announced he would only be running the 100m. Let’s wait and see. All things being equal and with a number of athletes regaining full fitness, Jamaica could match the 11 medals won in Rio or possibly surpass it. Based on the results of this year’s JAAA National Senior Championships, there will be fierce competition for places on next year’s team to London, especially with a number of juniors who starred at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Poland in July hoping to stake their claims for places on the senior team. Nigel Ellis, the 200m bronze medallist in Bydgoszcz, 400m gold medallist Tiffany James and bronze medallist Junelle Bromfield are in line to challenge for places alongside the seniors come next year. A fully fit Hansle Parchment, if Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is able to overcome a possible operation on her troublesome toe and the continued improvement of a number of athletes, will guarantee the continuation of the country’s already high standards. Omar McLeod’s emergence in the 110m hurdles was timed perfectly to fill the gap left by Parchment and if fully fit the two could dominate the event at least through to the next Olympic Games. Add Deuce Carter, Tyler Mason and Andrew Riley to the mix and the future is indeed bright in this obstacle race. If Bolt does not contest the 200m, it leaves the door open for Yohan Blake the second fastest man ever over the distance, Julian Forte, Commonwealth Games 200m champion Rasheed Dwyer, World and Olympic Games medallist Warren Weir and Nickel Ashmeade. A fit Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will keep Olympic double sprint gold medallist Elaine Thomson on her toes with a battery of youngsters led by Christania Williams and Natasha Morrison bubbling to have their day on top of the medal podium. Both 400m events, men and women, are expected to be interesting with a reborn Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby, Annastacia Leroy and others seeking to fill the gap that will be left by Novlene Williams-Mills. They will join Olympic Games and World Championships bronze medallist Shericka Jackson, Stephenie-Ann McPherson and Christine Day as the flag bearers. The ChickV virus might have cost Demish Gaye a place on the team this year but he is expected to push for a spot in 2016 in what could be a fierce battle for places. Javon Francis is the king of the hill for now, but Nathon Allen has shown he could challenge while Fitzroy Dunkley and National Record holder Rusheen McDonald all vying for the same spots. The throws and jumping events failed to produce any medal and only triple jumper Kimberly Williams, long jumper Damar Forbes and shot putter O’Dayne Richards were able to make their respective finals. There was enough to keep up optimism with World Championships and World Indoor finalist Shaneika Thomas just missing the final in Rio. Jamaica sent seven throwers to Rio, three female discus throwers, a female shot putter and hammer thrower in addition to discus thrower, Fedrick Dacres who suffered a cut to his finger a day before he competed and failed to advance past the first round. The expectations are for a larger delegation of field event athletes to represent Jamaica in London next August and one thing is certain, there is going to be strong competition to make the team. Local Sports 8/28/2016 2:00 AM Patience is a medal virtue http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Patience-is-a-medal-virtue_71801 What a difference a year can make. Rewind to last year and the 4x400m relay final at the World Championships in Beijing, China and who can ever forget Javon Francis receiving the baton from Rusheen McDonald behind teams from the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Great Britain and Belgium. Then in one fell swoop, Francis, with almost unnatural speed, quickly overtook all his rivals including Olympic champion Lashawn Merritt shortly after settling down on the backstretch. This demonstration of speed so early on the final leg caught the attention of the British race commentator who said: “All the British runner needs to do now is wait, as surely Francis cannot continue at this speed.” Francis melted, he crumbled to pieces in the final 100m with Merritt leading the Americans to victory over the Trinidadians with Britain earning the bronze, if only just. Even before Francis could catch his breath the comments were swirling and they were stinging. “Why did he go so fast, so early in the race? We lost a certain medal because of an irrational run by Francis. What a piece of foolishness! Those were some of the more moderate comments hurled in the direction of Francis, a former star for Calabar at Boys’ Champs. Fast forward to 2016 and the Games of the 31st Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the final of the 4x400m relay with Francis once again on the final leg. Would history repeat itself? Had Francis matured enough to run a better leg? The anxiety, the fears were still omnipresent even after Francis had run a much more tempered last leg in the semi-finals to guide Jamaica to the final. Saturday, August 20, 2016 was the penultimate day of the Rio Olympics and time for the final track event, the 4x400m relay. Peter Matthews started the quest for gold, or a medal at least, then it was over to Nathon Allen, with Fitzroy Dunkley on the third leg passing the baton in fourth position to Francis. In front were the USA, Botswana and The Bahamas. In a very measured run, Francis kept his cool, there was no hint of wanting to take over, he was as cool as the Rio weather conditions allowed. Saving his best for last, that is, the final 100m, Francis produced a terrific finish to flash past the runners from Botswana and The Bahamas to achieve what had eluded him and his team-mates in Beijing, a medal, only this time it was an Olympic silver medal. His split of 43.78 seconds was not his fastest ever but those 43.78 seconds served to define a new ethos, a new paradigm for a young man who had obviously taken the time to learn from his previous mistakes. Before our very eyes, Javon Francis had matured and had worn the black, green and gold with ripened knowledge and a settled countenance. Well done, Mr Francis and your coach Mr Michael Clarke, as a grateful nation says thanks. Local Sports 8/28/2016 2:00 AM Analysing Jamaica’s tremendous Rio performance http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Analysing-Jamaica-s-tremendous-Rio-performance_71807 No praise is too high for Jamaica’s superlative performance at the Rio Olympics with 6 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals. This performance, however, has to be better contextualised for the magnitude of this success to be fully appreciated. Apart from finishing third overall in the Track and Field section behind the USA and Kenya, Jamaica ended up 16th out of the 206 countries that competed in the Games. Jamaica competed in four sporting disciplines compared to 31 for the USA, for example. When this performance is calculated, using medals won per 1,000 of population, Jamaica with 2.8 million people is indeed the best ranked of all the countries, along with New Zealand. Both countries won .0039 medals for every 1,000 persons within their respective populations, significantly more than any other country. This is appreciably better than all the big powerhouse countries, like the USA (ranked 16th on this scale), Germany, France, Canada and host country Brazil. In Rio, over 125 of the 206 countries, many far better economically resourced than Jamaica, failed to win a medal. Of the countries winning 10 or more medals, Jamaica recorded the highest percentage of gold, with 55 per cent of the medals won being of this quality. This equals the unforgettable Beijing performance, even if quantitatively this was less than the 12 medals won in London in 2012. We also need to look at the performance of the country since 1948, our first entry into these Games, to fully appreciate the enormity of the achievements since the turning point in Beijing, when we amassed a double-figure medal count for the first time. Jamaica has won 78 medals overall since 1948, competing in some 17 Games over this period, with 34 (43 per cent) of these coming in the last three Olympic Games since Beijing. Over this time, we have won 23 gold medals with 16 of these (or 70 per cent) coming in the last three Games since Beijing. Forty-seven per cent of the medals won since Beijing have been of the golden variety, a remarkable achievement, which should not be taken for granted. Nine of the 16 or 56 per cent of these have been won by one super athlete, super human being and legend Usain St. Leo Bolt. It is impossible to say too much about the performance of the team in Rio, and congratulations must go out to all the winners of medals of whatever colour, but in particular to the fantastic Elaine Thompson (2 gold), Omar McLeod (gold), the relay teams (gold and 3 silver), Shericka Jackson (bronze) and female sprint legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (bronze). Congratulations indeed to the entire contingent and all the management personnel who helped to make this unforgettable performance possible. What of the future The imminent retirement of Usain Bolt from the Olympic environment raises questions about the continuity of this magnificent performance. Let’s face it, Bolt cannot be replaced; he is a phenomenon, a one of a kind that comes along once in a generation or more. It was his electrifying run in Beijing that first ignited the team to the successes in those Games. It is his continued demonstration of class, confidence and indomitable spirit that has inspired this Jamaican team to our now accepted record-breaking performances. I am convinced, however, that in track and field we have the depth and the breadth, with our strong reputation now established, without a doubt, to continue this fantastic run at the Olympics, the pinnacle of sporting events, for years to come. But let us not take it for granted. 11 Beijing, 12 London, 11 Rio, Have we plateaued? The data beg the question. Let us not become complacent and be spoiled by our success. The team will need another “folk hero” around whom to revolve and Elaine could very well be that person. She has the qualities, athletically and otherwise, to fit this role. These just have to be honed carefully. But we have an abundance of talent in track and field waiting to exhale, with the proper nurturing and management. Again, there is no shortage of excellent coaches to guarantee one aspect of the requirements, the development of the athletic prowess. Breath in T & F/more sport disciplines In Rio we widened our track and field participation with entries in female hammer throw, female discus, and steeplechase, to name a few. This is welcome news, and efforts need to be focused on building these and other track and field disciplines for Tokyo and beyond. There should be concern, however, that despite being represented in some 13 different Olympic sports since 1948, we have not been represented in more than five at any one Games. In Rio we were represented in four – track and field, swimming, diving and gymnastics. Jamaica performed exceptionally well against the odds in both diving and gymnastics. There is no question that this will require a holistic effort at harnessing talent, supporting national federations and significantly enhanced organisational and marketing effort on the part of the national federations, but it can be done, if we are serious about broadening our pool of medal chances and indeed increasing our medal tally achieved over the last three Games. We have had just one non-track and field medal since 1948. Case for a significantly accelerated pace towards a National Sports Museum project Sports has been the strongest positive associated with this country, unquestionably and increasingly so since Beijing. Not only have we not successfully or relentlessly pursued a strategy to maximise the benefits from these positives, but we also have not sufficiently advanced the project towards the establishment of a National Sports Museum to create a permanent record of these achievements. Barbados and a few other countries in the Caribbean, to their credit, currently have a National Sports Museum. Indeed, concrete steps have been taken to erect our own with the voting of some $40 million by the Government last year and Cabinet approval for land adjoining the stadium for this purpose. Major discussions with interested parties locally and internationally have already taken place and we are now eagerly poised to embark on the next phase of this development. This cannot come too soon. The exploits of Rio have served to sharpen focus on this urgent need and it is expected that the wheels will once more begin to roll soon to ensure that this National Sports Museum becomes a reality in the near future.   Local Sports 8/28/2016 2:00 AM Elaine Thompson, successor to the throne http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Elaine-Thompson--successor-to-the-throne_71916 This former resident of Banana Ground in Manchester was an average runner for the first part of her athletic career. Born 26th June 1992, she first came to notice at the Christiana High School. She later transitioned to Manchester High School, which was better known for its track programme and where she felt she could emerge as a better than average athlete. Indeed, Elaine’s start on this athletic venture was inauspicious. She was not a bad athlete, but did not set the track alight with her times. Her talents must have been seen, however, as Jamaica has some of the finest talent scouts around. Running for Manchester in the 2009 Boys’ and Girls’ Champs, she placed a modest fifth in class two with a time of 12.01 secs. Nothing really to write home about in an environment where serious times were being run at the school level. In 2011, her last year in high school, she did not make the track team. How then did this young lady from the remote district of Banana Ground make this transition where she has pocketed two gold medals and one silver in the biggest sporting event in the world? This is indeed a rapid transition from the less-than-average performances four years ago to the top of the world. Jamaica is reputed to have some of the best coaches in the world, and it took the eagle eye of the Francis brothers at the MVP, the home of sprint champions as they call themselves, to place their money on this athlete. They must have seen something that no one else did. By 2013, Thompson had improved her time to an unremarkable 11.41 secs for the 100m, but the writing must have been on the wall for the Francis brothers. Stephen, much criticised for his outspoken nature and his controversial personality, placed considerable emphasis on this young talent and the results began to show. In that year, Thompson was a member of the sprint relay team that won the gold medal in the Central American and Caribbean Championships, but no one was as yet convinced that she had star quality. That was 2013, folks, just three years ago. In 2014, she significantly improved her 100m time to 11.26 secs at the Intercollegiate Champs, a performance that must have convinced her and her backers she could make the grade. She ended the season with a career best 11.17 secs. That again was just two years ago. Countdown. Those are not earth-shattering times, but when you can improve from 12.01 secs to 11.17 secs in the space of four years, that is evidence of significant potential. Thompson’s breakout year was 2015. I had vaguely heard of this lady, but had not seen her run until she competed at an Intercollegiate meet. The 100m started and no one was seriously interested until they saw a marvel – a smooth demolition of the field in the amazing time of 10.92 secs, the fastest time in the world at that time. Everyone sat up to look at the replay. Elaine who? Never heard of her, was what many said then. But you have to sit up and take note of a 10.92-second timing, and more than that, it was the manner in which she did it – sheer class. She went on to top a very competitive and experienced field at the Jamaica International, leaving behind none other than Allyson Felix and Blessing Okagbare in her wake. Time: 10.97 secs. This was not a flash in the pan. Elaine Thompson was the real deal. She followed this up with a 10.84-second timing in the Eugene Classic. Elaine Thompson from Banana Ground in Manchester had arrived. Four other races confirmed her as one of the greats, but these were not in the 100m which people had become accustomed to seeing her contest. Thompson ran four 200m in 2015 and clocked 22.37 secs, 22.31 secs, 22.10 secs (see the progression again) and eventually 21.66 secs, yes, repeat 21.66 secs, running second to a strong-finishing Dafne Schippers in a massive race for the World Championships – gold. So who engineered this change as it seemed at the time? Stephen Francis weathered the storm of criticism for running her in the 200m and proved to the world or those who doubted him that he surely knows what he is doing. Very few female athletes have run faster than this. On to Rio. The toe injury to legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce served to elevate Elaine to the pole position in both the 100m and 200m for which she was entered for the Rio Olympics. Before that she demonstrated she was genuine by her performance at the National Trials in June. In Rio, Thompson was installed as the favourite for the 100m, but it was the general consensus that she would be edged out by the apparently stronger Schippers in the 200m. After a scintillating run in the 100m final in which she just about demolished the field including Schippers, who must have been demoralised in finishing fifth, she went on to run the race of her life in the 200m, a defining 21.78 secs to win the gold and relegate favourite Schippers to second. Usain Bolt has been an inspiration to the Jamaica team ever since Beijing. The 100m normally runs off early, and it is no coincidence that the medals keep on coming after that. The significance of this fantastic start to our Olympic campaigns since then is not lost on the athletes. The team needs this kind of early spurt. So with no more Bolt, a new catalyst has to emerge. What better person than Elaine? In four years’ time, Elaine at 28 should be at the peak of her career, and while Shelley-Ann has been the beacon on the female side and there is still much left in that tank to help inspire her fellow athletes, projections have to be made on the basis of recent consistent data. There is no question that while I expect Shelly to bounce back with a vengeance, it is to Elaine that I feel we must look as the new inspiration for the team. Her persona suggests that she has the mettle to wear this mantle well and to keep Jamaica’s flag flying high. Over to you, Queen Elaine. Don Anderson, CD served as a vice-president of the Jamaica Olympic Association for 32 years, was a part of the management team to seven Olympic Games from 1988, and was the Chef de Mission to the Jamaica Olympic Team for five of these Games from Atlanta in 1996 to London in 2012. Local Sports 8/28/2016 2:00 AM Usain Bolt – unquestionably the greatest of all time http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Usain-Bolt---unquestionably-the-greatest-of-all-time_71911 Usain St Leo Bolt is indisputably the greatest athlete of all time. His record nine gold medals in consecutive Olympic Games, his unrivalled world records in both the 100m and 200m races as well as the 4 x 100m relay attest to the phenomenon that he is. In addition to his World Championships gold medals, his infectious personality and the fact that despite his successes he has remained rooted to his foundations, he will be remembered as the best example of a rich blend between greatness and humility – factors which complete the picture of a living legend in his own right. But who would have thought these achievements were possible, in view of his humble beginnings in Sherwood Content in Trelawny? Born August 21, 1986, Usain spent much of his early life like any ordinary child – nothing particularly exceptional about his athletic prowess at that time. But the genius in him would soon be awakened, and before long he was recognised for his running ability. His school, William Knibb, was not well known for its athletic success at Boys’ Champs, but that did not stop his emergence to greatness. Fast-forward to 2002, the year when Bolt – at 15 years and 300-plus days – became the youngest to win the gold medal at the World Junior level when he clocked 20.61 secs at the National Stadium in the 200m. He followed this by anchoring Jamaica’s 4 x 100m relay team to the silver medal, and then ran a brilliant leg in the 4 x 400m relay, which mined silver for Jamaica. Between 2002 and 2004, Bolt was severely affected by injuries which caused considerable concern to those who identified the potential in him. By the first half of 2004, Bolt was running astonishing times at the age of 17. There were those who were convinced he was ready for the 2004 Olympics, while others – though not doubting his ability – questioned whether he would stand up to such intense competition against the background of his injuries. The local track and field body, the JAAA, after very careful consideration, nominated him to compete in the 200m and submitted his name to the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA). The JOA is not in the habit of questioning nominations submitted to it for ratification, let alone rejecting any. Considerable debate raged in the boardroom as to whether it was practical to expose this young athlete, still only 17, to the rigours of such demanding competition. The decision was made in his favour and Bolt was entered to run in the 200m. So undistinguished was his first foray in an Olympics that some people are prone to forget that this is where he made his debut. Running in heat 4 of the 200m, Bolt finished 5th in a time of 21.05 secs. Compare that time with his 20.61 secs two years earlier at age 15, and one will understand why some people were convinced that the authorities had made a mistake in taking him to Athens. There are those who blamed his loss on the gold chain he ran with clenched between his teeth. Fact is, Bolt did not really realise the extent of his potential at that time. In the Olympic Village, we had to climb some five flights of stairs to get to our residence. It was not uncommon to see the young athlete bolting from the top flight and landing on the bottom stair, or horsing around playing basketball or soccer. Certainly at that time he did not realise the gold that was in “them there” feet. As he did in Rio, Bolt celebrated a birthday in Athens – his 18th – and the team management arranged a cake for himself and Sherone Simpson, who also celebrated her birthday during the Games. Bolt was not the first team member to celebrate a birthday during an Olympic Games, but we must have known there were great things to come. It certainly was the first time we celebrated anyone’s birthday at the Olympics with a cake. So were the expectations unrealistic? Let us look at what he had achieved between 2001 and 2004 and let us judge whether the right decision was made to take him to Athens. 2001 – 21.81 secs in the 200m, 48.28 secs in the 400m 2001 – 21.12 secs in the 200m, 47.33 secs in the 400m 2002 – 20.61 secs in the 200m, voted IAAF rising star for 2002. It is said that in the race he unknowingly put his spikes on the wrong feet, so nervous was he. This helps to explain his penchant for gimmicks and gesticulations whilst at the blocks for every race. It’s his relaxation therapy. 2003 Carifta Games – 4 gold medals 2003 World Youth – 20.40 secs in the 200m 2003 Boys’ Champs – 20.25 secs in the 200m, 45.35 secs in the 400m. 2003 – 20.13 secs in the 200m. These were times he achieved while still 16+ and which Michael Johnson did not run until he was 20. He was indeed a boy in the company of men. His participation in the Athens Olympics was more than justified. He just did not realise where he was. One could almost say the rest is history. Between 2004 and 2007, Bolt had chequered experiences. Injury plagued him for much of the time, but in-between these setbacks he ran some fantastic times, signalling his permanence on the real world stage. 19.93 secs in the 200m at the Carifta Games – a world junior record. 2005 – 20.03 secs and then 19.99 secs under new coach Glen Mills in the 200m 2006 – 19.88 secs (200m) in Lausanne And in 2007, 19.75 secs and 19.91 secs in the 200m as well as 10.03 secs in the 100m. What? The 100m? He had not run the 100m before. What was happening? What was this all about? Up to 2007, the year before Beijing, he had not run a competitive 100m. By 2008, Bolt was gradually shifting focus from the 400m to the shorter sprints. The 400m was too much work in training. In May 2008, Bolt ran 9.76 secs in the 100m, the second fastest legal time over the distance, and he followed this up a few weeks later in New York, breaking Asafa Powell’s world record in the event by running 9.72 secs. This was only his fifth competitive 100m race. Later in the year he was to run 19.67 secs in the 200m to break the national record again. By then Bolt was far more focused, far more confident and far stronger, mentally and physically. Beijing beckoned. As head of the delegation for Jamaica in those Games, I could not imagine a prouder moment for his teammates, the management personnel and Jamaica than to have witnessed history in the making, the turning point in Jamaica’s fortunes in the Olympic Games. Beijing was special. In his electrifying gold medal run in the 100m, he ended the race on a canter with his shoe laces untied, several lengths in front of all opponents, having eased up in the last 15 metres, setting a new world record in the process. Time? 9.69 secs and that for a man who had only run a few 100m races prior to that. Bolt went on to win the 200m – also in world record time – and then ran an electrifying leg to ease Jamaica to a third gold medal in the relay, also in world record time. When I attended the Chef de Missions meeting in Beijing in 2007, a full year before the Olympics, very few Chinese had ever heard of Jamaica. The name Bob Marley triggered a thought on prompting, but the Chinese were largely unaware of Jamaica. After Bolt’s 2008 exploits, the Chinese needed no further prompting. It seemed that all one billion Chinese were now aware of Jamaica. “Jamaicans fast runners”, “great runners”, “fast, fast people” greeted the team everywhere we went. The exploits of Bolt and the rest of the Jamaica team in Beijing set the stage for the dominance we are now seeing. That was the turning point. As Jamaicans we have become accustomed to excelling in the Olympic Games and one gets the sense that we have begun to take this for granted, expecting this to be repeated time and time again. Amidst a very bad period for the sport, where several athletes – some of them prominent Americans – had been caught cheating, the World Anti-Doping Agency waged a major campaign against drug cheats in Beijing. The Jamaican contingent felt itself targeted in this regard, as during the first five days, no fewer than 32 random drug tests were conducted on Jamaican team members, with Bolt and Powell being tested some three times over this period. Walking around the village in Beijing and in the public places, the question often asked by international reporters was: “Where did this Jamaican man come from ALL OF A SUDDEN?” It took a simple listing of this great man’s achievements since 2002 (which I just happen always to have with me) to convince all and sundry that this Jamaican was indeed a phenomenon. There is, of course, another side to Bolt that must be highlighted. On his return, Bolt was honoured by the Jamaican Government as he was conferred the Order of Distinction for his achievements. By the London Olympics in 2012, Bolt was already a legend. It was just a question of who would be second in the 100m and 200m. Between Beijing and London, he obliterated both the 100m and the 200m world records. In Berlin at the World Championships in 2009, he clocked 9.58 secs in the 100m and 19.19 secs in the 200m to shatter his own marks. Those achievements were so significant that he was given a 12-foot-high piece of the historic Berlin wall as evidence that he was capable of breaking down barriers hitherto considered insurmountable. His wins also triggered the donation of a section of the track, eventually leading to the construction of an eight-lane track similar to the Berlin track at the University of the West Indies where Bolt and his Racers teammates trained under the watchful eyes of coach Mills. His performances leading up to the London Olympics of 2012 were again jaw-dropping. The expectations leading to the Games were understandably all about Usain Bolt, the world record holder and the fastest man on the planet. If there was any doubt about the status that this man had achieved, they were erased on the day he arrived in the village from the training camp in Birmingham. The Jamaican team arrived by bus at around 1.30 pm – lunchtime with a bunch of hungry athletes. The dining room is generally the first port of call on arrival in the village. Surrounded by a few of the biggest athletes, Bolt made his way to the dining room, hoping not to be identified too early, and sure enough the party, escort guards and all, reached the dining room (seating capacity 5,000 at any one time). When he was spotted three minutes after his arrival, pandemonium broke loose. All eating stopped, cellphones were whipped out for selfies and whatever else could be obtained. The dining room came to a virtual standstill, all eyes focused on the area where a massive commotion had grown into what appeared to be a riot. Usain the great had arrived. The party – self-imposed guards and all – made a hasty retreat, after he had signed some 100 autographs or more. In a way, Usain has to be saved from himself. He is so conscious of his appeal that he finds it difficult to tell autograph hunters “no”, and left to himself, he would be constantly mobbed just obliging fans as he likes to do. The march to the Opening Ceremony was like nothing any experienced Olympian had ever witnessed. Usain was selected to carry the flag for the Jamaica team – an obvious and easy choice. Unlike previous Games where buses normally took the team to the stadium for the ceremony, athletes and officials had to make the roughly one-mile walk from the village to the stadium which was virtually next door. Any doubts that Bolt would not want to carry the flag were erased when he was the first person to get dressed, and then proceeded to demonstrate his prowess at dancing with a relatively heavy flagpole strapped to his hip. The march to the stadium is normally a very organised parade, but when teams before and behind the Jamaican contingent heard that one Usain Bolt was carrying the Jamaican flag, they broke ranks and converged on the team to get a glimpse of Bolt, get a photo with him, shake his hands – whatever. This was my sixth Olympics and I had never ever witnessed such a dramatic turn of events in so short a time. On one occasion, Usain went “missing”. He had broken away from his self-appointed guards, and relief only came when we spotted him atop what looked like a life guard’s tower, showing off his now world-famous trademark pose. Whew! But his off-the-field class really showed when he was asked by the organisers if he would mind greeting a group of school children who we believe were from a school for the disabled, who were amongst the thousands lining the walkway to the stadium. We were reluctant to agree to this, but the big man said, “Children? Yes, of course!” and proceeded to escape his “bodyguards” and run the barriers touching wildly screaming children and signing a few autographs along the way. A more touching moment you will not find. Rio: Three-peat, nine gold medals, the demolition of Gatlin, who some felt was Bolt’s nemesis, but whom he was always confident he would never allow to beat him again. Our hearts were in our mouths in 2015, but there was never any doubt in Rio, save for concerns about his injury. But we have learnt to trust Usain’s judgement. Usain will not race unless he is confident he is ready enough. Rio proved that while he was not as prepared as he would have liked, his confidence will carry him through while destabilising his opponents. The fact that no one left the stadium after the 4x100m relay was ample evidence that no one wanted to miss the opportunity to see the world’s greatest sprinter one last time on the Olympic stage. Bolt has done it all. There are no more mountains to climb, and in any event they will become increasingly difficult with the passage of time. He will retire with his name and his legendary status intact. For most of us, he will etch his name in the history of sports as the greatest athlete of all time. Argument done! Local Sports 8/28/2016 2:00 AM Team USA take Rio Olympics medal race with ease http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Team-USA-take-Rio-Olympics-medal-race-with-ease-------_71828 RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) — The US Olympic Team made itself right at home in Rio. The British, they had a Games to savour as well. The host Brazilians got soccer gold that they craved, the Russians struggled on the heels of the exposure of a state-sponsored doping programme, and the Chinese finished well below expectations. So went the medal race at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where the Americans — with women leading the way — dominated both the gold and overall totals. The US finished with 46 gold medals and 121 medals overall, its 51-total-medal margin over second-place China, the largest in a non-boycotted Olympics in nearly a century. “This experience has been the dream of a lifetime for me,” said US gymnast and closing ceremony flagbearer Simone Biles, who won five medals, four of them gold, in her first Olympics. For the fourth consecutive games, US swimmer Michael Phelps left with more medals than anyone else. He won six in Rio, while Biles and US swimmer Katie Ledecky each won five to lead a big haul from American women. US women left Rio with 27 golds — by far the most among any team of female Olympians at these games — and 61 medals total. US track star Allyson Felix, now a six-time gold medallist and a winner of nine medals in all, was particularly delighted to learn that women are bringing more medals home to America than the men. “Got ‘em,” Felix said, smiling. By now, the Americans winning the medal race is almost commonplace. But the significance in Rio were the sheer amounts of hardware. The previous record for US medals at a fully attended Olympics was 110, set at Beijing eight years ago. And the margin between first and second in the overall medals race this year tops all others (the boycotted games of 1980 and 1984 excluded) since the Americans won 67 more medals than Italy did at the 1932 Los Angeles Games. “We weren’t sure we were going to have that kind of success coming in,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, noting the track and swimming teams had plenty of first-time Olympians. But Blackmun was thrilled by the results, and he wasn’t the only one leaving Rio happy. Even with far fewer athletes competing in Rio than it had in London four years ago – and no home-field advantage this time, either – Britain got more medals than ever in the modern games. The British won 67 medals in Rio, 27 of them gold. China won 26 golds, just over half as many as it won in Beijing in 2008. Russia - with its track team told to stay home because of the doping probe and a cloud hovering over its athletes who were in Rio, some of whom got publicly called out by competitors - finished with 19 golds and 56 medals overall, both well below its normal showings. There were plenty of positives for others, however. Usain Bolt finished off his triple-triple - three Olympics, three sprint golds in each - for Jamaica, in what he said was his last games. Neymar’s game-winning penalty kick decided a shootout and clinched the men’s soccer gold medal for Brazil, a host that wasn’t a factor in the medal standings but got the gold that it probably wanted most. Local Sports 8/28/2016 2:00 AM McLeod’s gold – a historic achievement http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/McLeod-s-gold---a-historic-achievement_71803 Omar McLeod’s amazing gold medal run in the men’s 110m hurdles final at the XXXI Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, August 16 was the culmination of a journey that started in 1948 when Jamaica first competed in the Olympic Games. Sydney Foster failed to get past his first round heat in London in 1948, the first man to compete over the hurdles at the Olympic Games for Jamaica but it lit the fuse that would ultimately mine gold for the country. McLeod’s gold was the second medal for Jamaica in the obstacle event after Hansle Parchment broke through with the bronze medal four years ago in London 2012. Despite just two medals at the Olympics, Jamaica have enjoyed a relatively good record in the event, especially since 2004 when three men, including two-time finalist Maurice Wignall, made it to the semi-finals. Wignall just missed a medal by the thickness of his running vest. He ran 13.21 seconds for fourth, same time as Latvia’s Stanislav Olijars, but was just edged by Cuba’s Anier Garcia who got the bronze medal with 13.20 seconds as China’s Liu Xiang won the gold with 12.91 seconds with silver going to American Terrence Trammell in 13.18 seconds. Four years later in Beijing, Jamaica had two representatives in the final, Wignall and Richard Phillips. Before these Olympic Games where McLeod, Andrew Riley and Deuce Carter wore the black, green and gold, 12 men have represented Jamaica in the sprint hurdles in 11 previous Olympics. Phillips, a finalist in the IAAF World Junior Championships in Kingston in 2002 has been to three Olympics. Five men, including McLeod, have now made it to the final. The rest are the late Keith Gardner competing for the West Indies Federation in Rome in 1960; Wignall who has been to two finals, in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, Phillips also in Beijing, and Hansle Parchment, who won a bronze medal in London 2012. Up to 2012, hurdlers had to contest four rounds but it was cut to three in London. Jamaica’s Olympic 110m hurdles representatives: Sydney Foster - 3rd in first round heat 1956 Melbourne Keith Gardner - 14.65 seconds, first round 1960 Rome Keith Gardner as part of the British West Indian Federation - 5th in final in 14.55 seconds; won first round in 14.46 seconds, 2nd in second round 14.45 seconds, 3rd in semis in 14.32 seconds. 1972 Munich Godfrey Murray - 14.16 seconds for fourth in first round 1988 Moscow Richard Bucknor - 3rd in first round, 13.89 secs; 3rd in quarters, 13.91 secs; 8th in semis, 13.98 secs, Andrew Parker - 3rd in first round heat 14.00 secs, 6th in quarterfinals 14.05 secs. 1992 Barcelona Richard Bucknor - 6th in first round 13.91 secs, 9th in quarters - 14.22 secs Anthony Knight - 6th in first round 14.12 secs. 1996 Atlanta Robert Foster- 3rd first round 13.58 secs, 2nd quarters 13.51 secs, 6th semis-13.49 secs. 2000 Sydney Robert Foster- 7th in first round -14.33 secs. 2004 Athens Maurice Wignall - won first round 13.33 secs, 3rd quarters 13.39 secs, won semis in PB - 13.17 secs(NR), fourth in final - 13.21 secs. Richard Philips - won first round heat-13.39 secs, 3rd in quarters -13.44 secs, 6th in semis 13.47 secs. Chris Pinnock - 3rd in first round 13.42 secs, 4th in quarters 13.47 secs, 7th in semis 13.57 secs. 2008 Beijing Wignall - 4th in first round 13.61, won quarter finals 13.36, 4th in semis 13.40, 6th in final 13.46. Richard Phillips 4th in first round 13.60, 5th in quarters 13.48, 4th in semis 13.43, 7th in final in 13.60. 2012 London - changed to three rounds Hansle Parchment - 2nd in first round 13.32; 2nd in semi-finals - 13.14 seconds; third in final - 13.12 (Bronze) Richard Phillips 5th in first round 13.47, injured in semis Andrew Riley 5th in first round 13.59, did not advance. Local Sports 8/28/2016 2:00 AM They made a difference http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/They-made-a-difference_71814 David Weller’s 1980 cycling bronze medal is still the only medal won by Jamaica at the Olympics Games outside of track athletics despite hopes going into the Rio Games that at least one medal would be a possibility. Jamaica had four athletes in three other disciplines other than athletics, with swimmers Alia Atkinson (in her fourth Olympics) and Timothy Wynter, while diver Yona Knight-Wisdom and gymnast Toni-Ann Williams were creating history by being the first athletes in their respective sporting disciplines to represent Jamaica at an Olympic Games. After just missing a medal four years ago in London, placing fourth in the 100m breaststroke and establishing herself as an elite swimmer, Atkinson was expected to finish on the podium but finished eighth in the final in 1 minute 08.10 seconds, the slowest time of her three swims by almost two seconds. Atkinson who had won a Short Course World Championships gold medal while equalling the World Record, both firsts for a black female swimmer, had placed second in her first round in 1 minute 06.72 seconds and went marginally faster in her semi-final swim – 1 minute 06.52 seconds. The UK-based Knight-Wisdom was a dark horse after he had won a silver medal in the three metre spring board event at the diving World Cup held in Rio earlier in the year, the event that qualified him for the Olympics. He tallied 416.55 points to comfortably qualify for the semi-finals in 11th place of the 18 qualifiers but came up an agonising eight points shy of making the 12-man final with a total of 381.40 points, basically the equivalent of a cleaner entry on one dive. Williams was the first Jamaican in action on the second day of competition and despite a bright start on the floor exercise, finished 54th of the 59 athletes who completed the four different areas of her discipline. Local Sports 8/28/2016 2:00 AM Rio left to grapple with social realities as Olympic party moves to Tokyo http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Rio-left-to-grapple-with-social-realities-as-Olympic-party-moves-to-Tokyo_71578 RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — Rio de Janeiro returned to the cold reality of Brazil’s political crisis and recession yesterday after bringing a carnivalesque curtain down on its Olympics festival and passing the torch to Tokyo. After a 16-day extravaganza of sporting heroics from the likes of Olympics legends Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, Brazil woke up to the hangover of suspended president Dilma Rousseff’s looming impeachment trial and the country’s worst recession in more than eight decades. Brazilians have mixed feelings on hosting the Games, according to a poll released on the final day, which found that 62 per cent think the $16 billion Olympics brought more harm than good. At the same time, 57 per cent were proud the event boosted Brazil’s image abroad. “There are doubts on the use of public money for events of this nature when there are other priorities, especially considering the economic crisis,” summed up Marcia Cavallari, the head of the firm that carried out the poll, Ibope Inteligencia. Security fears, concerns over Zika, off-field scandals and organisational gaffes were relegated to the background as South America’s first Olympics ended in a blaze of colour late Sunday with an exuberant closing ceremony. Smiling and waving athletes danced into the Maracana stadium, defying a tropical rain storm to launch an all-night party after Olympics chief Thomas Bach described the Rio Games as “marvellous.” The city handed over to 2020 hosts Tokyo and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who arrived for the occasion dressed as Nintendo video game hero Super Mario. But even as Olympics highlight reels continued to loop on Brazilian television, the nation’s attention began to shift back to the capital, Brasilia, where Rousseff will go on trial before the Senate Thursday on charges of fudging the national budget to make the numbers look better. Rousseff, who denies breaking the law and condemns the trial as a “coup,” has paid a heavy price for the recession and a massive corruption scandal at state oil giant Petrobras — which is separate from her impeachment case but has stained the entire political class. Interim president Michel Temer, her nemesis, is not faring much better. Booed at the opening ceremony and harangued in the stadiums, he stayed out of sight for Sunday’s closing celebrations. But memories of American swimming legend Phelps and Jamaican sprint king Bolt will linger after they set the 2016 Olympics alight. Bolt, 29, made history when he sealed the sprint “triple triple” in his final Games, his third consecutive 100m, 200m and 4x100m sweep. “There you go. I’m the greatest,” he said matter-of-factly. It was Phelps who set the first week of the Games on fire when he took his unmatched career haul to 23 gold medals before heading into retirement at age 31. In gymnastics, 19-year-old newcomer Simone Biles dominated the arena with her record-equalling four women’s gold medals and a bronze at her first Games. A catalogue of outstanding achievements in Rio included Britain’s Mo Farah, who captured a “double double” in the 5,000m and 10,000m — despite tripping and falling halfway through the latter. And the hosts got to revel in a priceless moment in the sun, fittingly in football. The men’s national team earned its greatest Olympic memory by winning the men’s gold medal. Brazil celebrated long and loud when Neymar won the penalty shoot-out against Germany to erase memories of their 7-1 World Cup semi-final humiliation in 2014. The United States topped the medal standings, matching their 46 golds from London four years ago ahead of Britain, who sealed a surprise second place ahead of China with 27 golds to 26. Russia — with around half their team, including the track and field stars, banished from Rio following doping revelations — finished fourth with 19 golds. Scandal also struck during the Games as police seized passports, phones and computers in a raid on the Irish Olympic office, following the arrest of Irish International Olympic Committee member and European Olympic chief Patrick Hickey over an alleged black-market tickets scam. And American swimming standout Ryan Lochte and three teammates caused outrage when they falsely claimed they had been robbed at gunpoint in Rio by muggers disguised as police. It later emerged the group had in fact been detained by security guards for drunkenly vandalising a gas station bathroom. The fallout continued to pile up for six-time Olympic gold medallist Lochte yesterday as sponsors Speedo and Ralph Lauren both announced they were dropping him. Local Sports 8/23/2016 12:00 AM Jordanian runner beaten by stray dog in marathon marked by drama http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Jordanian-runner-beaten-by-stray-dog-in-marathon-marked-by-drama_71602 RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) – Amid celebrations for the end of the Rio Olympics, few spared a thought for Jordan's Methkal Abu Drais who finished the marathon behind a Japanese comedian, a stray dog and an Argentinian running sideways.   It sounds like a punchline to a joke, but that's what happened as the 32-year-old army sergeant trotted home last in Sunday's race, finishing 140th more than 37 minutes behind gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. Enough time perhaps to fashion a sign warning "Slippery When Wet" for rivals toppling like tenpins along the home straight on a concrete surface that resembled an ice rink after a morning downpour. "It wasn't my best day perhaps," Abu Drais told AFP. "But my presence at the Olympics among the best marathon runners in the world is an achievement for me." Before Abu Drais schlepped up the long concourse of the Sambadrome, the spiritual centre of Rio's famed carnival, waving to fans, carnage was unfolding ahead. Former Olympic silver medallist Meb Keflezighi led the way when he lost his footing and skidded across the finish line on all fours. Mortified, he stayed where he was and began to do push-ups to loud applause. A stray black dog made a lengthy cameo appearance, to further cheers, trotting alongside runners who looked a little wary of the furry intruder. Abu Drais was still some way off at this stage, huffing and puffing his way to the closing stages of a course which snaked through the heart of Rio's historic centre. He insisted he had little time to take in any of the city's iconic landmarks, such as the giant Christ the Redeemer statue, peeking through the clouds above. "I wasn't here for sight-seeing," shrugged Abu Drais, who trains in the Atlas mountains, which stretch through Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. "A marathon runner doesn't have time to check out the tourist spots." After watching Abu Drais race, some may beg to differ. "The rain wasn't helpful," sniffed Abu Drais, who won the 2012 Stockholm Marathon. "You have to deal with the elements, circumstances change from race to race. You just want to get to the finish." If the rain was not as advertised, neither was the smorgasbord of comedy: Argentine runner Federico Bruno did a cracking impersonation of a wounded crab as he crossed the line sidewards-on in 137th, dragging his cramping leg behind him. Iran's Mohammadjafar Moradi collapsed 20 metres from the line and crawled desperately home. Fifteen runners failed to finish, one wag wondering if they had stumbled into one of the city's notorious 'favela' slums, never to be seen again. As if praying for divine intervention, Cuba's Richer Perez unfurled a banner reading: "Love Jesus." Abu Drais, meanwhile, was pipped at the line by pint-sized Kuniaki Takizaki – a Japanese comedian who competes under Cambodia's flag. Undeterred the doughty Jordanian said: "I'm off for a shower. I will be back to finish in the top 10 at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics." Local Sports 8/23/2016 12:00 AM Bad economy may spoil future plans for Rio's Olympic Park  http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Bad-economy-may-spoil-future-plans-for-Rio-s-Olympic-Park RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) — The celebrations are done and the torch extinguished, but now that the Olympics are gone, Rio is left with questions about what will become of the city's plan to convert the Olympic Park into a bustling recreational district with luxury apartments and offices. Amid a continuing national recession, the consortium behind the park has sold less than 7 percent of the Olympic Village's 3,604 apartments, and real estate experts worry a similar fate is ahead for the main Olympic site where the city is hoping private companies build housing and offices in close to half of the park's land. "Right now we are in the bottom of a well. Nobody is making offers on apartments, and there are many apartments sitting empty," said Claudio Tavares de Alencar, president of the Latin American Real Estate Society. When Rio de Janeiro was picked as the Olympic host city seven years ago, the country was a darling of the emerging markets. Rich oil fields had been discovered and, in 2010, the nation's economy grew by 7.5 percent. Bidding wars for apartments were common then, and in 2005 some 1,500 apartments built for the Pan American Games sold out just hours after they went on the market. The financial landscape is far different now. Brazil's economy contracted 3.8 percent last year and is expected to keep shrinking, affected by a slowing demand for iron ore and other commodities. Across the nation, more than 5 million people have lost their jobs since the end of 2014. There's an oversupply of apartments all over Rio, obvious by the sight of partially built towers. After years of rising, prices per square meter have dropped 6 percent in the last year and a half to 10,241 reals, or about $3,200, according to real estate index FipeZap. With financial institutions charging prohibitively high rates for lending, real estate agencies have begun offering incentives such as honeymoon trips or private school tuition. Rio 2016 organizers and city officials have not talked about how the weak market could affect the potential for development of the 12.7-million-square-foot Olympic Park and its environs. But Leonardo Schneider, vice president of Rio's housing union, said residential and commercial space are key pieces of the puzzle and that too many buildings around the park are unfinished or vacant. "The problem is how we fill up those apartments," said Schneider. "As good as it sounds to live in the Olympic Park, it's going to take some time to find occupants and transform the area." Carlos Carvalho, the billionaire who developed the Olympic Park and village, has infuriated many in a country that desperately needs subsidized housing for saying the athletes village caters to the city's elite. It is called "Ilha Pura" — Pure Island — and apartments average 1.4 million reals ($435,000), offering amenities such as pools, a spa and a beauty salon. Penthouses of 1,700 square feet go for up to 2.3 million reals ($700,000). Another wealthy developer is building luxury marble and glass high-rise apartments around the Olympic golf course, with units that will start at about $2 million. "They are very nice-looking apartments," said Idenir Cunha, a 67-year-old retired physician's assistant who lives in an older complex nearby. "If I had the money, I would love to buy one. But in the middle of this crisis, who does?" London 2012's village was turned into an affordable-housing complex, where people paid below-market purchase prices. In Rio, a study by real estate data company Geoimovel found that the village's apartments were advertising for well above the average price of most apartments with same features in Barra da Tijuca, a neighbourhood of flashy shopping malls and lavish high-rise apartments that is home to the Olympic Park and athletes village. Many in Brazil protested the 39.1 billion Brazilian reals, or $12 billion, in public and private money that went to building Olympic venues and infrastructure, and the spending isn't over. The city will pay more than $300 million to dismantle or convert some of the sporting venues inside Olympic Park. The arena that housed fencing and taekwondo will be turned into a school for about 1,000 students with a focus on sport. A racetrack will be added to the park. And salvaged materials from one of the stadiums will be used to build four schools elsewhere, the city says. Brazil faced scrutiny for building expensive venues for the 2014 World Cup that wound up being barely used after the event. Some of the stadiums that cost several times their initial estimates were built in remote areas without first-division soccer teams and are now playing host to weddings or are used as parking lots. With the Olympics, "everything was conceived in terms of what it would become after the games," Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes said this weekend in an interview with Globo TV. As for white elephants? "No way," he said. Local News 8/22/2016 8:18 AM France's Yoka follows fiancee to boxing gold http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/France-s-Yoka-follows-fiancee-to-boxing-gold_71526 RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — France's Tony Yoka completed a romantic Olympic double yesterday, winning the super-heavyweight title just days after his fiancee had secured her own boxing gold medal. The 24-year-old from Paris -- the first Frenchman ever to win the Olympic super-heavyweight division -- outfoxed Britain's Joe Joyce to claim a split-points decision. After the victory Yoka sought out his fiancee Estelle Mossely, who won France's first women's Olympic boxing crown on Friday. The couple embraced ringside after he got the narrow win before wrapping themselves in a French Tricolor. "It's incredible, this story," Yoka said. "We dreamed about competing in the Olympics as a couple. And we dreamed about winning medals, or even gold medals. And now we've done it. Incredible." Yoka revealed he'd received a simple instruction before the bout from Mossely. "Estelle just said: 'I've done my job, you do yours'. It was my turn. I couldn't fail,'" Yoka said. Yoka meanwhile said he was surprised that Joyce had not sought to vary his approach. "He's not intelligent. Look at my face," Yoka said. "He hit me a lot on the arms, in my gloves. And every time I struck him I hit him in the head. "Look at the guys on the podium -- they are black and blue everywhere. Look at my face, I'm pretty good." Local Sports 8/22/2016 12:00 AM South America’s first Olympic Games closes with Jamaica equalling Beijing medal haul http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Pleased-Wilson-turns-attention-to-Ja-s-athletics-future_71488 RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Despite Jamaica’s success at the Rio Olympic Games, Maurice Wilson, the team’s technical leader, wants to see policies implemented that will enhance the performances. Jamaica finished with 11 medals, consisting of six gold, three silver and two bronze, and third on the athletics table behind the United States of America. The American scopped 32 medals inclusive of 13 gold, 10 silver and nine bronze, while African long distance powerhouses Kenya were second with 13 medals made of six gold, six silver and one bronze. At the 2012 London Olympic Games, Jamaica garnered 12 medals with four gold and was again third behind the USA and Russia. In 2008, the medal tally was exactly as it is in Rio, but back then they were fourth overall. “Well I think the Jamaican team performed extremely well throughout these championships,” said Wilson, who was in charge of the coaching staff. Of the 63 athletes, 41 made their Olympic debuts which augurs well for Jamaica’s future when the proven stars like Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell Brown, Novlene Williams-Mills, to name a few, call it a day. “We had quite a number of youngsters who made their debuts. Some persons felt that they could have done better, but I think the experience was very good for them. It will set the platform for Japan. I also felt that the senior members of the squad, they stood up to the task and they delivered,” Wilson pointed out. “Overall, the management, the coaching staff and the medical staff did a great job over these two weeks, plus the two weeks that we were in camp. Overall having garnered 11 medals, six gold medals…more than we did in 2012, it simple states that we are at least maintaining our excellent performances coming from 2008,” he added. “We just have to be prepared for the transition of our senior athletes and make sure that we have systems in place to fill the roles later on,” said Wilson. Wilson, the man who formed the GC Foster-based Sprintec track club, pointed out that in every championship there would be challenges and the Rio Games were no different. “I think there has to be some more guidelines in terms of how we operate in relation to our athletes. There must be guidelines that govern how they represent the country. There must be guidelines in relation to management and officials. There must be a clear distinction in terms of their responsibilities,” Wilson noted. He continued: “These guidelines are guidelines that will help the team overall in terms of organisation and structure. From that standpoint, I think we need to improve, we need to have clear cut policies and stick to them”. Wilson, who clearly had issues with how the relays squad members operated, said there must be rules implemented to avoid the repeat of certain things. “They must understand that only four persons can run at any given point in time, and if six members are on a squad, the six members must warm up. They must understand that the six members must be at the track on time. “The relay practice should be a must, repetition is the hallmark of study, irrespective of who thinks otherwise. These are things that must be put in place from a technical standpoint,” he reiterated. Wilson has directed Jamaica’s team in the IAAF World Junior Championships in 2000, 2004 and 2006. He served a similar role at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, and Beijing in 2008, and in three previous World Championships in Helsinki in 2005; Osaka in 2007; and Berlin in 2009, and 2015 in Beijing. Having been with a lot of these athletes, Wilson had mixed emotions with the expected last appearances of some of these athletes who might retire soon in the changing of the guard. “It’s a happy [and] sad moment for me, because a lot of these athletes, I would have been travelling with them from the junior stage, and it’s obvious that within the next two years or so they may be deciding to move on,” he explained. “I would like to think that the transition has begun. I think that we still need to put some more effort in terms of building the base from bottom up. But so far so good,” Wilson ended. Local Sports 8/22/2016 12:00 AM US NBA stars rip Serbia for third gold in a row http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/US-NBA-stars-rip-Serbia-for-third-gold-in-a-row_71509 RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — Completing a third-consecutive unbeaten run to Olympic gold, the United States captured a sixth Games title with NBA talent in seven tries by routing Serbia 96-66 in yesterday’s final. Kevin Durant scored 30 points, while DeMarcus Cousins added 13 points and 15 rebounds as the US squad cruised to a 15th overall men’s basketball gold medal, every US player scoring in the romp that decided the last gold medal in Rio. The Americans stretched their Olympic win streak to 25 games and overall decade-long winning run to 76 games. US forward Carmelo Anthony became the first man to win three Olympic basketball gold medals. He was on the 2004 team that settled for bronze, but returned for 2008 and 2012 triumphs, although he has no plans to play in 2020 at Tokyo. “It was a special moment for me,” Anthony said of winning his third gold. “I know this is the end. This is it for me. “I committed to this in 04. I’ve seen the worst and I’ve seen the best. I’m here today three gold medals later.” It was the farewell game for US Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who will be replaced by San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich. A Serbian team that tested the US squad before falling 94-91 in a group stage game — the closest call in the Americans’ Olympic win streak — stayed close for barely a quarter before the NBA playmakers began going wild. Serbia led 14-11 with 3:12 remaining in the first quarter when the Americans, who opened the game shooting only 5-of-17 from the floor, began what would become a 32-8 run to break open the contest. Durant had 14 points in the pivotal spurt, including a spectacular steal and fast break slam dunk that brought the loudest roar from USA fans. For the game, Durant shot 10-of-19 from the field, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range. Durant, who scored 18 of his 24 first-half points in the second quarter, joins the NBA Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next season after their record-setting 73-win 2015-16 campaign. Cousins had 11 points and 12 rebounds in the first half, which ended with the Americans ahead 52-29 and playing like the flamboyant side most expected to see once the roster was named. In the second half, it was only a matter of settling the final margin and seeing some highlight-reel US moves, notably an alley-oop slam dunk by DeMar DeRozan early in the fourth quarter. Durant and Anthony hugged late in the fourth quarter with the result long decided. The two were the only players back from the 2012 squad, their 10 teammates all Olympic first-timers. At the finish, the Americans were dancing at mid-court in celebration. Nemanja Nedovic led Serbia with 14 points. Spain, which lost to the US team in the past two Olympic finals, edged Australia 89-88 in the bronze medal game. Local Sports 8/22/2016 12:00 AM Neymar crowned Samba King as hosts end on a high http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Neymar-crowned-Samba-King-as-hosts-end-on-a-high_71523 RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — Neymar sent Brazil into ecstasy as he clinched Olympic football gold and Mo Farah sealed a rare distance double-double in a pulsating final evening of track action in Rio on Saturday. Neymar swept home a brilliant free kick and scored a trademark stutter-run penalty to win a shoot-out against Germany as the hosts headed towards Sunday’s closing ceremony on a high. Later, Britain’s Farah headlined the last night of track and field as he won a thrilling 5,000m race to earn the first consecutive 5,000m-10,000m doubles in 40 years. Matt Centrowitz produced the biggest upset when he beat defending champion Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria to become America’s first 1,500m champion in more than a century. Millions of Brazilians were glued to the men’s football, and celebrations were long and loud when the five-time world champions grabbed their first Olympic title at the Maracana Stadium. Victory, 5-4 on penalties after the scores were locked at 1-1 after extra time, left Neymar and his teammates sobbing uncontrollably as they erased the nightmare of Brazil’s 1-7 World Cup semi-final defeat to Germany two years ago. It was a fairy-tale finish for Neymar, who missed the 2014 defeat with a back injury and faced heavy criticism for his performances early in the Olympic competition. “This is one of the best things that has happened in my life,” said the Barcelona star, who promptly stepped down as captain. “Now [the critics will] have to swallow what they said.” Victory may not get Brazil into the top 10 of the Olympic medals table, but it was the one gold the country wanted. Street celebrations erupted after the final whistle. Security scares, transport problems and public apathy are among the problems that have bedevilled South America’s first Games, but Olympics chief Thomas Bach hailed the event as “iconic”. “The Brazilians altogether were great hosts and really united behind these Games... They turned this great competition into a party for everybody,” said Bach. Farah was pushed hard in the 5,000m before he kicked home in the final straight to become the first man since Finnish great Lasse Viren in 1976 to retain two Olympic distance titles. “This is the most satisfying win of the four; it is incredible,” said the 33-year-old Somali-born Londoner. Local Sports 8/22/2016 12:00 AM Brazil put ‘chokers’ tag to bed with volleyball gold http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Brazil-put--chokers--tag-to-bed-with-volleyball-gold_71525 RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — Brazil Captain Bruno said his side could no longer be accused of choking after beating Italy 3-0 to win men’s Olympic volleyball gold yesterday. After losing the last two finals in Beijing and London, Brazil reclaimed the title they’d won in Athens as they beat Italy 25-22, 28-26, 26-24 at the Maracazinho in Rio. A day after the Brazilian football team ended their 120-year wait to finally win Olympic gold, the volleyball team erased memories of their dramatic collapse against Russia in London, triumphing with football star Neymar looking on. “We deserved this medal so much. It’s much more special to do it at home; it’s a magical moment,” said Bruno, who is the son of coach Bernardo. “Everything we went through and now we are Olympic champions. This generation was said to be chokers. After so many silvers, now we’re gold.” The United States beat Russia 3-2 in the battle for bronze between the last two Olympic champions. Led by 20 points from the tournament’s top scorer, the impeccable Wallace, Brazil avenged a 1-3 pool stage defeat to the Italians, who have never won Olympic gold, losing in the final three times now. “I’m proud of what we’ve done because the whole team worked hard together — each one played with heart,” said Italy outside setter Ivan Zaytsev. “We’ve given a great account of ourselves; we showed a winning mentality. “We could have finished with the gold medal, but even though we didn’t, we gave our all, so we have a very solid base for the future.” It was a fourth final in a row for Brazil, who also beat Italy in Athens in 2004 before losing to the US in Beijing and suffering a Russian comeback four years ago in London after leading by two sets to nil. Despite the presence of 2.09-metre (6ft 10in) tall giants Lucas and Souza, it was the relatively diminutive 1.96m Lipe who rose to get the crucial block on the final point and send a packed home crowd into party mode. Local Sports 8/22/2016 12:00 AM PHOTO: Olympics 2016 closes http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Olympics-2016-closes_71519 Fireworks explode at the start of the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro last night. (PHOTO: AFP) Local News 8/22/2016 12:00 AM Photo: Curtain! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Photo--Curtain-_71503 Brazil’s national flag is projected onto the playing field during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro yesterday. (Photo: AFP) Local Sports 8/22/2016 12:00 AM Rio police seize passports in raid on Irish Olympics office http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/olympics/news/Rio-police-seize-passports-in-raid-on-Irish-Olympics-office_71495 RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — Brazilian police yesterday seized passports from three Irish Olympic officials accused of involvement in a black market ticket ring in Rio, police said. The early morning raid at the Irish office in the Olympic Village also netted phones and computers, Irish officials said. Irish International Olympic Committee member Patrick Hickey has already been detained in the inquiry and is being held in Rio’s Bangu maximum security prison, awaiting a court hearing. On Sunday, agents took the passports of Kevin Kilty, Dermot Henihen and Stephen Martin, Rio police said in a statement. “During the operation, Civil Police seized the passports of the three Irishmen, preventing them from leaving the country,” police said. “According to the evidence gathered so far, Kevin, Dermot and Stephen were also involved in the illegal sale of tickets.” An Olympic Council of Ireland statement said Rio police also took unused Olympic tickets held by the Irish officials that were meant to be for “athletes’ families and friends”. “The OCI personnel were asked to present for questioning at a local police station on Tuesday,” the statement said. The officials “agreed”, it added. Rio police said they were “conducting investigations since the morning, which will continue until Tuesday”. Earlier, IOC President Thomas Bach said that Hickey will appear before a Brazilian judge on Tuesday. The IOC chief gave no other details, but the 71-year-old Hickey could be formally charged or the judge could order him released on bail. “Mr Hickey will have his first hearing by a judge next Tuesday,” Bach said Sunday on the sidelines of an IOC executive meeting in Rio at the end of the Olympic Games. Hickey, an IOC member, head of the Olympic Council of Ireland and the European Olympic Committees, was detained Wednesday and is accused of involvement in a ticket scam, ambush marketing and conspiracy over the sale of Rio Olympics tickets at inflated prices. The ticket case has come as an embarrassment for the IOC. Bach again stressed the “presumption of innocence” in Hickey’s case. He has not criticised or supported the Irish official. Hickey “temporarily” stood down from his official positions after the arrest so the IOC ethics commission has not yet launched an official investigation. The scandal has been mounting since the arrest on August 5 of Kevin Mallon, the Irish head of the THG hospitality company. Police said they seized hundreds of tickets from Mallon, some of which had the Olympic Council of Ireland name on them. Tickets, including for the Rio opening ceremony, with a face value of about US$1,400 dollars were offered for sale at US$8,000. Hickey denied any involvement with THG before his arrest. Local Sports 8/22/2016 12:00 AM