The women’s sprints are exploding with speed. Last year, a 16-year-old American, Candace Hill, broke 11 seconds for 100 metres. New names have emerged here in the form of Elaine Thompson and Natasha Morrison and in Holland through Dafne Schippers. Africa has the dynamic duo of Blessing Okagbare and Murielle Ahoure. Britain has an entry into these high speed stakes in the form of 2014 World Junior Champion Dina Asher-Smith. These are just some of the women who stand between Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and a unique place in athletics history. At present, two Americans – Wyomia Tyus and Gail Devers – other than the little Jamaican have won the Olympic gold medal in the 100 metres. Tyus’ form dipped in between her gold medal runs in 1964 in Tokyo and in 1968 in Mexico, but that is perhaps understandable. Back then, there were no World Championships to chase. Devers was World Champion in 1993, when she won a squeaker over Jamaican icon Merlene Ottey. That narrow win came after her 1992 Olympic success over Juliet Cuthbert in Barcelona and before another heartbreaker over Ottey in the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. Athletically, gold at the World Championships equals gold in track and field at the Olympics. Power of tradition However, the Worlds started only in 1983 and still lack the lustre of the Olympics. That’s the power of a tradition that started with the first Olympics in 1896. So even though she is already the most successful 100-metre sprinter, the 29-year-old Kingston native ‘needs’ to win an unprecedented third Olympic gold medal to become the undisputed Queen of Speed. Last year, she won her third World title despite easing off early to celebrate. This year could be harder. Schippers will fully focus on sprinting for the first time and Thompson will likely campaign in both the 100m and the 200m. Nigerian Okagbare and Ahoure, the ace from the Ivory Coast, could be back to the form that gave them medals at the 2013 World Championships. Asher-Smith, who took the British record under 11 seconds last season, could move forward again and the American World bronze medal winner, Tori Bowie, is certain to threaten. There is one other challenger. Veronica Campbell-Brown, the World 100m champion in 2007, is chasing her own piece of history. Fruitful career In a long and fruitful career, she has twice won the Olympic bronze medal in the 100 metres. At 33, she is older than Shelly, but her surprising 21.97-second run for third in the World Championships 200m final came after a season troubled by leg ailments. A win in the 100m might be enough to win VCB the undisputed title of best Jamaican female sprinter of all time. With the 2020 Olympics a further four years away, this is probably her last chance. The field is fabulous as all mentioned herein have broken 11 seconds, with Kerron Stewart, Sherone Simpson and Carmelita Jeter, all Olympic silver medal winners in the 100m and long jumper-sprinter Tianna Bartoletta, appearing as respected outsiders. However, on the strength of her dominating 2015 season and her consistent speed in big meets, Shelly-Ann is on course to make history. Mathematically, any medal will pull her away from Tyus and Devers, but that won’t be enough to settle the arguments. The gold medal is the big prize. – Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.
WESTERN BUREAU:Petersfield FC central midfielder Akeem Whyte thinks his team has the necessary pieces to put together a strong run for the Charley’s JB Rum Western Confederation Super League title.Petersfield, who defeated defending champions Savannah SC 2-1 in Sunday’s fourth-round match, are in a three-way tie for the lead in Zone One, with nine points, the same as Salt Marsh and Granville FC.The former Petersfield High School daCosta Cup standout has been asked to lead the team. He said so far, it has been a good learning experience.”We are currently second in the zone and are feeling confident. We always play to win, so a victory is always important to us,” Whyte said.At 19, Whyte is the league’s youngest captain, and though aware of the tremendous amount of pressure the role brings, he admits to enjoying the challenge.”I am still a very young man. I graduated school last year, but I know I am able to bring the team to the level of success we crave,” he said.Whyte was clearly a calming influence in his team’s win over Savannah on Sunday, and the attack-minded midfielder is hoping to make a mark with Petersfield, as they go in search of a first Super League crown and a chance to qualify to the Red Stripe Premier League.Petersfield striker Romario Whyte (no relation to Akeem), another of the team’s young guns, notched a double in the win.Whyte opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the seventh minute and added his second in the 46th. He could have had the league’s first hat-trick of the season, but his effort from close range was blocked on the line by a defender, to keep the score at 2-0 at half-time.Leaton Galloway scored the only goal in a stronger second-half performance from Savannah, which remain grounded on a single point and last in the zone after four matches played.Beaches Negril, in only their second year in the League, are out front in Zone Two, following their 2-1 win over Village United at Llandilo for seven points from four matches.Lucea FC were defeated 2-0 by Granville and remain winless in the league, while their victors held on to third in Group One, with that result and Clark’s Town, the Trelawny champions, edged Sandals Whitehouse 1-0 at Cedric Titus High School.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC):Former captain Ramnaresh Sarwan has blamed the regional board for the decline of West Indies cricket and believes Caricom’s intervention represents the best chance 0f ensuring the sport’s revival.The 35-year-old Guyanese, who led West Indies in four Tests and five One-Day Internationals, said the region possessed plenty talent but administrators had failed to manage the game properly, and this had led to the team’s slump internationally.”WICB needs to take responsibility for the fall of WI cricket,” he told the Chronicle newspaper in Guyana.”I don’t think it’s a situation that we are lacking talent. It’s just that we don’t have the right people managing our cricket.”We cannot have so many talented players in the Caribbean and not be in the top four teams in the world [in Tests and ODIs].”Sarwan is the latest player to wade into the debate over the WICB’s management of the game, following Twenty20 captain Darren Sammy’s criticism of the regional governing body after his side’s capture of the T20 World Cup in India last Sunday.SHOCKWAVESIn a post-match interview, Sammy said the players felt “disrespected” by the board, a remark that sent shockwaves through the cricketing world. The WICB quickly apologised to the international cricket community for what it labelled an “inappropriate” comment.Since then, former one-day captain Dwayne Bravo, leading opener Chris Gayle, and legendary former captain Sir Viv Richards have come out in support of Sammy.Sarwan, who played 87 Tests and 181 ODIs, said the board had not been accountable enough in the past.”I think (Darren) Sammy was spot on in his interview. Over the years, the West Indies board, especially the directors and administrators – whatever you want to call them – tended to do a lot of stuff and get away with it,” he said.And with a CARICOM-commissioned governance panel recommending the “immediate dissolution” of the board and the formation of a new structure, Sarwan said the regional nation grouping held the key.”I like the initiative that Caricom is taking to try and resolve the problem. I think once Caricom gets involved and they put their foot down, they will find some sort of solution,” he said.