Up to 15 medals possible for Jamaica in London

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published July 31, 2017

Hypothetically, Jamaica could snag up to 15 medals at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London. However, what is the realistic haul we should expect?

Jamaica could win up to 15 medals at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London.
(Photo credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

If Track and Field was a perfect world and only Jamaicans were the stars, Jamaicans could mine up to 15 medals in London at the 2017 IAAF World Championships starting next week. The popular predictions have Jamaica winning anywhere from 9-11 medals. However, are these predictions realistic, ultra-conservative or bold? I think it is time for Track and Field’s Nostradamus to be bold and deliver his predictions.

Of the 50-plus member contingent going to London, nine athletes in all – five men and four women – are ranked in the top-6 of 10 events this year. Oh, and by the way, the prodigious Usain Bolt is not among the nine. Therefore, if we add Bolt, seeing he is an anomaly we cannot debar from any conversation – outside of the relays – there are 10 Jamaicans with a theoretical opportunity to capture 11 medals in individual events.

For Usain Bolt, it’s all about winning medals and he could win two at his final major championship.
(Source: GQ)

If we add a medal in each of the 4x100m and 4x400m relays for the men and women to the 11 from individuals events, Jamaica could win 15 medals hypothetically. Hence, that is how we got up to 15 medals possible in London. However, that is the theoretical evaluation. Let us look at what is practical and realistic.

Starting with the men, Yohan Blake in the 100m and the 200m, Usain Bolt in the 100m, Omar McLeod and Ronald Levy in the 110m hurdles, Fedrick Dacres in the discus throw and O’Dayne Richards in the shot put are the possible medal contenders.

With his return to form, Yohan Blake (left) could be Usain Bolt’s main rival in London for the 100m gold medal.
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Yohan ‘Blessed’ Blake is ranked in the top-6 based on times in both the 100m and 200m, that is, at number two and at number six respectively. His best chance to medal might be in the 100m, albeit, he has Justin Gatlin, Andre de Grasse, Chris Coleman and his stablemate Usain Bolt as his main rivals. I am predicting a medal for him here, the colour of which I cannot tell but let us say a bronze medal for now.

Bolt’s demonstrated form, on the other hand, has not been arresting or awe-inspiring this year, but that has been his mantra for the past few years before every championship. Will his luck extinguish or will his impenetrable plan fail this time? I am expecting gold or at worst silver for Bolt. So, that is two medals from the sprints and both from the men’s 100m.

Olympic champion, Omar McLeod (right) and Ronald Levy (left) in the 110m hurdles are Jamaica’s best shot at a 1-2 finish in London.
(Photo credit: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

In the 110m hurdles, Omar McLeod and Ronald Levy are Jamaica’s best opportunity at a 1-2 finish this year in an event. With both ranked number one and number three in the world this year and with each beating the other, it could be a stellar showdown in London. Hurdle races are tricky business, so don’t sleep on the Russian and reigning world champion Sergey Shubenkov or the world record holder Aries Merritt, who both have returned to exquisite form. If McLeod or Levy slips up, then Shubenkov or Merritt will pounce. Nevertheless, gold and silver is the prediction.

Fedrick Dacres, the former youth and junior discus champion, is a legitimate gold medal challenger in the men’s discus. He has the second-best throw of the season, three of the top-six, and in fact, 10 throws above the qualifying mark of 65.00m. His main competitors for the podium and the gold medal should be Sweden’s Daniel Ståhl and Lithuania’s Andrius Gudžius. Nonetheless, for me, Dacres is presaged to mine silver or at worst, bronze, though a gold medal would be a pleasant surprise.

Fedrick Dacres is a serious medal contender in the men’s discus throw.
(Credit: Brazil Photo Press/CON)

O’Dayne Richards, the bronze medallist in the men’s shot put at the last world championships, has been finding impeccable form late this season. Two weeks ago, Richards threw a personal best and a new national record of 21.96 metres. In my opinion, to guarantee a medal in London, Richards, who is the fifth-best thrower this year, will have to throw above 22 metres. The unsentimental expectation is that he will fall just short of the podium. Nevertheless, another bronze would not be considered a bombshell.

For the women, the hopefuls include Elaine Thompson in the 100m, Shericka Jackson in the 400m, Danielle Williams in the 100m hurdles and Kimberly Williams in the Triple Jump.

Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson is the heavy favourite to win the women’s 100m in London.
(Credit: AFP)

Barring something unpredictable, such as injury or the second coming of Christ, Elaine Thompson seems like the sure winner in the women’s 100m. So far this year, she has clocked 10.71 and 10.78 seconds, the two fastest times of the year. If she is able to regain the form she exhibited early in the season, the gold medal and nothing short of a personal best and a new national record is anticipated.

In the women’s 100-metre hurdles, Danielle Williams is the fourth fastest woman down to compete at the Championships. The reigning world champion, Williams, is considered third fiddle behind world record holder Kendra Harrison and former Olympic and world champion Sally Pearson, who is coming off a serious injury in 2016. Nonetheless, due to Williams’ championship mettle, she is forecasted to capture – at least – the bronze medal and will have American Nia Ali as her main rival for the final podium spot.

The resilient reigning world champion Danielle Williams of Jamaica is tipped to medal in the 100m hurdles in London.
(Photo credit: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

In the women’s 400 metres, Shericka Jackson, a bronze medallist at the last world championships and the Olympics, is fancied to capture the bronze medal again. Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and world champion Allyson Felix are the main contenders for gold and silver. Jackson, however, will face a serious challenge from the American trio of Quanera Hayes, Phyllis Francis and Kendall Ellis for the bronze. Nevertheless, her championship mettle and raw speed should have her prevailing but it will be an immense battle.

Kimberly Williams in the triple jump is ranked fifth this year. Her chances of a medal are slim, and as for me, she will have to produce a personal best like she did in Moscow in 2013 in order to come anywhere close to a medal. And even then, she might fall just short.

Kimberly Williams will be hoping to improve on her fourth and fifth place finish at the last two World Championships. (Source: Youtube/IAAF)

In the men and women’s 4x100m relays, Jamaica is reckoned to clinch gold and silver respectively. For the women, if USA’s baton woes return or if an elite thoroughbred like Thompson is anywhere close to the US, gold might not be out of the realm of possibilities.

For the 4x 400m relays, the experienced Jamaica female team and reigning world champions are expected to mine silver with a strong USA team getting the gold easily. The inexperienced men’s team have some brave runners and have a realistic chance at the bronze. However, anything above a bronze medal will be an overachievement and an event shocker.

Unlike the pleasant surprise in Beijing 2015, the women’s 4 x 400 metres relay team are expected to capture a silver medal this time around in London.

In all, Jamaica has the possibility of capturing 15 medals at the World Championships. However, no championship is perfect. Unexpected events always occur and predictions have to be revised. Hence, I am going with 12 medals in London: eight individual and four relay medals.

Table 1. Jamaica’s Projected Medal Haul at the 2017 IAAF World Championships

4 Gold 4 Silver 4 Bronze
Men’s 100m Men’s 110m hurdles Men’s 100m
Women’s 100m Men’s Discus Throw Women’s 100m hurdles
Men’s 110m hurdles Women’s 4 x 100m relay Women’s 400m
Men’s 4 x 100m relay Women’s 4 x 400m relay  Men’s 4 x 400m relay
Total 12

Until next time…

© Zaheer Clarke

Zaheer E. Clarke is a multi-award-winning freelance sportswriter, blogger and columnist.

He can be reached at zaheer.clarke@gmail.comFollow him on Facebook at Zaheer Facts, Lies & Statistics, or on Twitter at @zaheerclarke.

This blog article was published in the Western Mirror on July 31, 2017.

13 or 43 Exhilarating Seconds You Need to See in London

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published July 10, 2017

Despite Usain Bolt’s swansong in London, the men’s 110m hurdles, the women’s 100m hurdles and the men’s 400m are the must-see events at the 2017  IAAF World Championships.

Usain Bolt admits he will struggle to hold back the tears when his track career comes to an end at World Championships in London.
(Credit: Press Association/PA)
(Source: The Sun)

The 2017 IAAF World Championships in London is only 27 days away and the main draw card for the event is Usain Bolt’s final race at an international meet before his retirement. Any mentions of the impending breath-taking performances of other athletes by pundits and fans are all but a whisper.

The blue riband event of every World Championships or Summer Olympics is the 100m event, which crowns its newest winner as the “fastest man in the world”. Usain Bolt has had a throttlehold on this label ritualistically now for nine years, with the exception being his false start in Daegu at the 2011 World Championships.

Based on his performances two weeks ago in Ostrava, 10.06 seconds, and at the Racer’s Grand Prix last month, 10.03 seconds, it is clearly apparent that Bolt is currently not in any shape to defend his title. Nevertheless, in recent years we have grown accustomed to Bolt labouring and struggling to produce spellbinding times of yesteryears leading up to the big event – the Summer Olympics or the IAAF World Championships. However, when the light shines brightest, he and his coach Glen Mills, usually get Bolt to produce his best performance of the season, at the biggest stage.

Omar McLeod and Kendra Harrison are two stars set to light up London with world or championship record performances in the 110m and 100m hurdles events.
(Credit: Phillipee Fitte/IAAF)

Predictably, the events that have me hissing about a potential world and/or championship records, and are the blue riband events, for me, at this year’s World Championships are the men’s 400m and the men’s and women’s sprint hurdles, that is, the 110 m hurdles and 100m hurdles respectively.


SUPERMAN HANDS OVER: Bolt hands over the immense responsibility of carrying track and field to Wayde van Niekerk. [You are next big thing. The world of athletics is in your hands.] 
(Credit: Julio Cortez/AP)

With Bolt’s departure all but set, the world has been searching for the next athlete that will fill Bolt’s shoes, if only partially, in terms of dominance in a particular event(s).

On the female side, Elaine Thompson seems to be the heir apparent to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as the marquee female athlete over the 100m and the 200m. However, the world, Olympic and championship records in those events are some distance away. On the male side, many have suggested that Yohan Blake or Andre DeGrasse, running over the 100m and 200m, are the successors to Bolt’s throne in terms of dominance and captivation. However, other potential candidates to that throne include Wayde van Niekerk and Omar McLeod while on the female side Thompson might feel some pressure from Kendra Harrison, who is due to explode on the world scene.


Wayde van Niekerk smashes Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old 400-metre world record to stop the clock at staggering 43.03 seconds.
(Photo credit: Associated Press)

As I had predicted last year – two months before the Olympics – van Niekerk shattered Michael Johnson’s 400m Olympic and World records. Unfortunately, I missed the trifecta, after van Niekerk failed to break 43 seconds by four hundredths of a second with a blistering 43.03 run from lane eight. This year, the expectations of van Niekerk are no different, if the conditions are ideal and the competition sufficient, he may be pushed to immortality. Undoubtedly, he should break the world record, championship record and 43 seconds in one quick swoop, if pushed. Unsurprisingly, van Niekerk broke Usain Bolt’s and Michael Johnson’s 300m two weeks in Ostrava and a week ago, he eased to 43.67 in Lausanne.

A non-spectacular run from the ageing former Olympic and world champion LaShawn Merritt coupled with the absence of former Olympic, World and Commonwealth champion Kirani James might be the Achilles heel to another ‘van the Man’ performance from van Niekerk. In addition, if van Niekerk contends both the 200m and the 400m for men, with the men’s 200m first round and the 400m finals scheduled for the same day, the last time I checked, then we might be robbed of another great Rio performance from van Niekerk.

Omar McLeod will have Colin Jackson’s championship record of 12.91 seconds in his sight at the London World Championships.
(Source: Reuters)

‘Mr Smooth’ Omar McLeod light up Rio last year when he won the 110 metres hurdles event and this year, he has already set five of the top-7 seven times over the distance. After switching coaches this year, he has set his personal best and a national record of 12.90 seconds at the Jamaican National Championships. With the world record at 12.80, the championship record at 12.91 for over 24 years, McLeod has the raw speed and ability to break the world record, championship record or both. He currently sits on the fifth fastest time of all-time set this year.

Keni Harrison, disappointedly, failed to qualify for the Olympic Games last year after falling apart in the 100m hurdles final at the US trials, finishing sixth. Harrison had dominated the season up to that point, winning most, if not all, of her races. A few weeks after the sorrowful trials, she destroyed the 28-year-old world record with a run of 12.20 seconds at the London Olympic Stadium, the same host of this year’s World Championships.

Kendra Harrison wins the 100m hurdles in a world record of 12.20 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London 2016.
(Source/Credit: Kirby Lee/IAAF)

Henceforth, even though Usain Bolt is the most exhilarating athlete we have seen in track and field, at this his final major international meet, the elation and goosebumps might be produced from performances from Wayde van Niekerk, Omar McLeod or Keni Harrison, or all. Once again, track and field’s Nostradamus has looked into his crystal ball and these are the scary and delightful premonitions he saw.

Until next time…

© Zaheer Clarke

Zaheer E. Clarke is a multi-award-winning freelance sportswriter. The last time he tried to run the 110m hurdles, it took him a super-fast 43 seconds to complete. Omar McLeod or Kendra Harrison would have finished the same race and would be having a drink by the concession stand by then.

Zaheer can be reached at zaheer.clarke@gmail.comFollow him on Facebook at Zaheer Facts, Lies & Statistics, or on Twitter at @zaheerclarke.

This blog article was published in the Western Mirror on July 10, 2017.


Sports & Cancer: Never Give Up on Your Dreams

By Zaheer Clarke

Published July 3, 2017

Oftentimes, your love for sports can make the difficult moments in your life a little easier. For several individuals battling cancer, it’s this love and the love from their family that transform them into superheroes.

Hundreds Bid Farewell to Captain Horace Burrell
(Source: BOJTV)

Last week, the entire Jamaican football fraternity paid respects to a man, Captain Horace Burrell, whose dream united a people and made a nation proud. In 1994, Burrell marched into the presidency of the Jamaica Football Federation. His immediate dream at the time was for Jamaica to attain qualification for the 1998 World Cup in France by 1997. It was a daunting task to be achieved in three years, but it was a task that required an enchanting and stomping leader, and that he was.

The Captain, with Rene Simoes at his hip, transformed Jamaica’s outlook on its place in world football with steely performances in match after match ‘at the office’ and overseas. Surprisingly for many outside of Jamaica, Jamaica qualified for the 1998 World Cup and went on to finish 22nd out of the 32 teams that participated. Amazingly, Jamaica finished ahead of teams like the USA, Cameroon, South Africa, Scotland and others. Many will forget that in 1994, Jamaica was ranked as low as 75th in the world by FIFA. However, it was under Burrell’s tenure that Jamaica rose to its highest ranking of 27th in 1998.

Captain Burrell, the man with the dream that united a nation. Cancer could not tame his drive.
(Photo source: Guyana Chronicle)

The influence of the Captain on Jamaica’s football was like Santiago Bernabeu’s own influence on  Real Madrid Football Club. Real Madrid was once a fledgeling club in Spain, with the big clubs – Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao – dominating proceedings. Bernabeu had a dream of Real Madrid one day rivalling the big clubs in Spain and Europe. He first started off with building the largest stadium in all of Europe. He and Real Madrid were mocked bitterly, with many at the time declaring that it was “too much of a stadium for so little a club”.

Today, the club has gone on to win the most Champions League titles in Europe. And the stadium, which bears his name, the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, is the perennial home of Real Madrid Football Club and the Spanish national football team.

The stadium owes its name to the legendary president of the club, Santiago Bernabéu de Yeste.
(Photo credit: Real Madrid F.C.)

In a similar manner, something significant, which will be mentioned each time Jamaica steps out to play, must be named in Captain Horace Burrell’s honour. Burrell took a small English-speaking Caribbean country to a World Cup tournament, which many had said was ‘too big a tournament for such a small country like Jamaica’ back in 1994.

Burrell’s contribution to local football and the national program warrants such recognition and not just a passing breath at his funeral service. His impact and legacy on Jamaica football must never be forgotten or diminished. When several corporations looked away from Jamaica’s football and its viability, Burrell, through his own business, Captain’s Bakery, pumped money and resources into the parish and local football programs to ensure their feasibility and continuity.

Captain Horace Burrell, last year, greeting my friend and fellow Jamaican Cleaveland at a department store in the United States, shortly after the Copa America Centenario tournament. The Captain was battling cancer at the time.
(Photo source: Cleaveland Smith)

Unfortunately, last month, Burrell died of cancer. I recall during the Copa America tournament last year when he was ill and I heard of the magnitude of his illness, I too was sombre as to the direction of Jamaica’s football program after Burrell. He gloriously returned for the final game of the tournament after receiving treatment, even though Jamaica were mathematically out of the tournament. It was a sign of defiance in my eyes. It was a sign of him wanting to be there for his boys – the Reggae Boyz – as always, despite his illness.

A good friend of mine from Trinidad, Marsha, who is a perennial supporter of West Indies cricket, was diagnosed with cancer last year. When healthy, Marsha can be found near the Trini Posse stands at the Queens Park Oval, cheering on West Indies through thick and often thin.

My friend Marsha in the hospital preparing for another round of chemotherapy. On the days West Indies wins, she feels no pain.
(Photo source: Facebook)

Unfortunately, in order to save her life and try to beat cancer, she had to do surgery, several rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It was a difficult time for her and her family. However, win, lose or draw; sick, well, or maim; you couldn’t get her away from her West Indies’ team. When the West Indies won three global titles last year, with the under-19 boys winning the ODI World Cup and the senior men’s and women’s teams winning the T20 World Cup, no amount of carcinogenic pain could damper Marsha’s joy, even when lying on a hospital bed or on her own bed at home.

Novlene Williams-Mills, a four-time Olympic medallist and a six-time World Championship medallist, was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. She won the national 400m title in 2012 and 2013 and anchored Jamaica’s 4 x 400m team to gold at the 2015 World Championships. Just recently, she posed nude for ESPN’s Body magazine similar to other popular athletes with surnames Williams: Serena and Venus. However, Williams-Mills has the supreme distinction of being the first breast cancer survivor to pose for the ESPN Body Issue. Battling cancer is never easy and the scars, both mental and physical, after and during the cancer fight can be debilitating. Oftentimes, sports and your love for it can make the difficult moments easier.

Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills is the first breast cancer survivor featured in ESPN’s ‘Body Issue’
(Photo credit: Marcus Smith/Eric Lutzens/ESPN)

‘Some experiences, when you get to the other side, you get back to the person you want to be. You look in the mirror and you see all these scars. This is a body that you’re used to so much and then one day you have all these scars on your body,’ Williams-Mills remarked.

‘And, you know, that’s your story. I had to be like, “This is who I am now. These are the scars that make me up.”

“Cancer just wants to take control of everything. It didn’t ask permission.”

– Novlene Williams-Mills

‘Before cancer, I would think, “OK, to make me a lady, you have to have your breasts. You have to have this, you have to have that,’” Williams-Mills said. ‘Now I realise that what makes me a lady is this strong person that I look at every single day in the mirror.

‘It’s the courage; it’s the strength; it’s the fighter that I have in me that when I wake up every single day, I live to fight another day.’

My friend Victoria looks cancer in the face and smiles. She will not be defeated.
(Photo source: Facebook)

My friend Victoria, affectionately called Vickie found out last year she had cancer. Just last week she had surgery, this after doing extensive chemotherapy and radiotheraphy over the past year to become cancer-free.

Today, I want to salute all those who valiantly fight cancer and love sports. You guys are the true superstars and heroes. The famous basketball coach Jimmy Valvano, who too battled cancer, once said, “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up.”

Please watch Jimmy Valvano’s Inspiring Speech on Cancer – 1993 ESPY Awards
(click on video below)

Keep fighting my friends…

Zaheer E. Clarke is an award-winning opinion journalist, blogger and author of the award-winning blog, Zaheer’s Facts, Lies and Statistics.

 He can be reached at zaheer.clarke@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook at Zaheer Facts, Lies & Statistics, or on Twitter at @zaheerclarke.

This blog article was republished in the Western Mirror on July 3, 2017.

Petersfield, building a strong legacy, but needs help

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published April 10, 2017

Petersfield High School sports program has been on the rise in recent years. The dream is to build a strong legacy and a bright future for their student-athletes. However, they desperately need assistance.

Petersfield High School’s ultimate dream is to seriously challenge the top schools for the boys’ and girls’ titles at the annual ISSA Boys and Girls Championships in Jamaica. 
(Photo credit: Team Jamaica)

Last year after Boys and Girls Championships, all the discussion was about the Christopher Taylor versus Akeem Bloomfield showdown in the event’s finale, the 4 x 400m relay. Three days after the Championships, I stood beside a soup shop on a university college campus in Western Jamaica discussing the beleaguered anchor leg by Bloomfield with students and passersby. The discussions centred around whether Bloomfield utilised the correct strategy. Interestingly, among the crowd, an inadvertent participant joined the discussion. That individual was Petersfield’s High School Track and Field head coach, Machell Woolery.

“We don’t have shoes, spikes or jerseys to run in…”

– Machell Woolery

In recent years, barring St. Elizabeth Technical High School, Petersfield High School has been the beacon of the westerly parishes in sports generally, but especially in the area of track and field. In previous years, Manning’s School was the gold-standard in Westmoreland but like with life’s only constant, there has been a change.

Machell Woolery, track and field coach of Petersfield High School.
(Photo credit: Paul Reid/Jamaica Observer)

Petersfield High has advanced to the quarterfinals stage in the last three editions of the Dacosta Cup. More surprisingly, at Boys and Girls Championships, or Champs for short, they have finished in the top-10 on the boys’ side every year since 2012 and in the top-20 on the girls’ side in three of the last four editions. They have finished 7th, 6th and 7th on the boys’ side in the last three editions, with them scoring 71 points exactly at the last two Championships. This year on the girls’ side, they attained their highest finish of 11th with them scoring 32 points.

Table 1. Petersfield High points and ranking at the Boys and Girls Championships 2011-2017





Points Rank Points Rank
2011 8 22nd 2



29 10th 13 21st
2013 34 9th 8



31 10th 14 16th
2015 50 7th 10



71 6th 23 15th
2017 71 7th 32


After Coach Woolery revealed his identity, and after the polarising views of the congregants at the soup shop regarding the Taylor-Bloomfield showdown cooled off, I spoke with Coach Woolery about the entire sports program at Petersfield High and the resources at their disposal.

“The resources are very minimalist. The whole burden is on the school. We would love to get some form of corporate sponsors on board, whether it’s from Westmoreland, Montego Bay or Jamaica at large. We just want the backing to help us get the students out through the scholarship medium or  [to help] those who can represent the country in the long run,” he said.

Woolery is a graduate of GC Foster College and is a certified IAAF Level I and Level II coach. He said that his time at GC Foster, the IAAF training received along with being a part of the Digicel/MVP Grassroots program for a number of years have all contributed to his life experiences as a coach.

Former Petersfield High standout Waynee Hyman of Jamaica runs the 2nd leg during the 1st round of the medley relay on day four of the IAAF World Youth Championships at the Bressanone Sports Complex on July 11, 2009, in Brixone Bressanone, Italy.
(July 11, 2009 – Source: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe)

With limited resources, coaching can identify individual talent and hone it. However, to truly challenge schools like Kingston College and Calabar on the boys’ side or Edwin Allen and Hydel on the girls’ side at Champs, which is coach Woolery’s dream, Petersfield would require serious support from the past students’ association, corporate sponsors and possibly governmental agencies.

While speaking last year, Woolery remarked, “We need equipment, hurdles, a gym, and starting blocks. We don’t have a school bus. So, transportation is a heavy burden on us. We don’t have a shoe sponsor or a gears sponsor. So, we don’t have shoes, spikes or jerseys to run in, nor a nutrition program or supplements for the students. In every area we are in need of great help.

Daniel Cope practising his discus throws.
” I will never stop trying until I get it right.”
(Source: Facebook)

“We want to be in the top-5 at Champs. We know that it is hard to win the Championships. However, if we can get that financial backing we know we can challenge the top schools. To challenge any school at Champs, once your field events are strong and you can maintain in other areas, you can show dominance. [2016] we won the field events section at champs. We outscored KC, JC, Calabar, and all the name brand schools. We won gold medals in three out of five field throws. So that sets a precedence. All we need from here is some financial backing and we can do great things and make the West proud.”

Though the team-centred Coach Woolery is very hesitant to individualise members of the Petersfield setup, in the past few years, student-athletes like Kevin Nedrick, Daniel Cope and Antonio Watson have stood out on the track and in the field, and there are several more.

Petersfield’s Kevin Nedrick won a gold medal for Jamaica at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games on September 9, 2015, in Apia, Samoa.
(Sept. 8, 2015 – Source: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images AsiaPac)

In December last year, just before the start of the current track season, I once again caught up with Coach Woolery, who had just returned from El Salvador where he went to do the IAAF Level II certification. He said that despite the success of Petersfield he was saddened that they were not getting the financial support they expected to get as a non-traditional and a deep rural school that is performing so well at Champs.

“I will never stop trying until I get it right.”

– Daniel Cope

Woolery and Petersfield High want a bright future for their student-athletes and recognise that for several of them, their prowess in sports is their vehicle to greater opportunities and success in life.

“I want everybody to know that [Petersfield High] is not just track and field. We have been a decent sports program. Where we try our best to get our students to get scholarships to go abroad. We have a few students who have moved on to universities abroad to study. So this is a vehicle for them. It is the only opportunity for their parents to help them to go to [college or university and it] is to get the scholarships,” Woolery declared.

Check out this cool video. Click on link below.

Antonio Watson of Petersfield WINS Class 3 (U-13) Boys 200M FINAL in 22.61 out of LANE 8 at CHAMPS 2016

That was a cool video.

In spite of the dearth situation, last year Woolery said that Petersfield was planning strategically for the future and are looking to create shockwaves even higher than at the Boys and Girls Championship level, but at the world level.

In Woolery’s own words, “Petersfield has been a rising success and a rising institution when it comes on to track and field. We are not only a local brand but a global brand. We have had persons on the national team from 2009 and we want to continue to do that. We are paving the way for the future generation and we want to maintain the [Petersfield] legacy, and we hope someone can come on board and start to build on the legacy with Petersfield. The legacy is already there!”

For the first time in school history, a team of 16 track and field athletes from Petersfield High School competed at the 2016 Penn Relays Carnival in the United States.
(Source: Petersfield High Website)

I, for one, hope that Westmoreland residents, western Jamaica and corporate Jamaica lend their support to the Petersfield High sports program. On merit alone, they deserve it, and without a question, they need it.

Until next time…

© Zaheer Clarke

Zaheer E. Clarke is an award-winning opinion journalist, blogger and author of the award-winning blog, Zaheer’s Facts, Lies and Statistics.

He can be reached at zaheer.clarke@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook at Zaheer Facts, Lies & Statistics, or on Twitter at @zaheerclarke.

This blog article was republished in the Western Mirror on April 10, 2017.

Nesta Carter’s only shot at a successful appeal

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published on February 13, 2017

PJ Patterson believes that Nesta Carter has strong grounds to see his disqualification by IOC from the 2008 Olympics overturned. Carter sole shot at a successful appeal may rest in arguments that rebut WADA’s laboratory standards regarding his samples.

The Nesta-Carter-failed-drug-test and disqualification from the 2008 Beijing Olympics remain the most significant story being discussed on the local news and sports scene. Last week, I weighed in on whether the IOC was correct to ban Nesta Carter. As a scientist, after reading the IOC’s decision, I was in full agreement with their conclusion. Scientifically, it was black and white. Three of Carter’s samples, his A, B1 and B2 samples, were all confirmed to contain the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine upon re-analysis last year.

For unlearned friends and legal novices like myself, it was an open and shut case. However, legally, “not so” was the admonition from various distinguished luminaries in the field of law. For them, Carter’s case had strong grounds for appeal and was marred with what I will describe as ‘various shades of legal grey’.

PJ Patterson
(Possible photo credit: Jamaica Gleaner, Source: JaBlogz.com)

The honourable former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, who is considered an eminence in the practice of law, made the rounds on various radio stations last week declaring his disappointment with the IOC’s decision. Patterson called the decision unfair and attributed it as one that raised more questions than definitive answers. Questions were directed to the chain of custody of the sample since 2008. Whether strict adherence to the WADA’s testing processes was observed? Why the Beijing lab got a negative result in 2008 while the Lausanne lab got a positive result eight years later? Why documents requested by Carter’s attorneys were deemed irrelevant and not furnished by the IOC? Why testing at one lab can lead to a positive result, while testing at another lab can lead to a negative result, despite all labs being licensed and accredited by WADA?

In my opinion and that of the average Joe, these are reasonable questions that need to be answered for not only Carter’s but also the sake of all athletes. If they cannot be answered, then we are compelled to ask if this anti-doping framework is fair to all athletes concerned.

WADA is coming under increased pressure to investigate and expose doping.
(Source: AP)

Interestingly, within the IOC’s decision in relation to Carter, they answered some of these questions. With regard to the question of the chain of custody of the samples, the IOC remarked that they provided Carter’s legal team with documentation on 15 July 2016 with regard to the “handling of the sample in Beijing and its transfer to the Lausanne Laboratory.”

In relation to why a positive sample, which could be detected in one laboratory, might be found negative in another laboratory, the IOC admitted to “differences in the availability of testing methods and/or level of sensitivity in their application in different laboratories.” For the layman, this is a cause for serious concern. As a scientist, I know why this can happen and find it very understandable. It is the nature of science. No two machines, methods or equipment are the same. Just like how no two humans are the same, even if they are identical twins.

A case involving Josephine Onyia of Spain, who returned four positive tests since 2008, was referenced in the IOC’s decision on Nesta Carter.
(Photo credit: Unknown) (Source: http://www.trackarena.com)

Nevertheless, it was while reading a case, which was brought before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2009 and which was referenced in the IOC’s decision regarding Carter, that I realised that Carter’s Appeal case to CAS is an uphill task and leaves him and his legal team with few options for success.

CAS in it is ruling from 2009 stated some important info that which will answer the questions of several Jamaicans and journalists still hung up on or confused with WADA’s policies.

Popular supplements reported by Spanish and Dutch authorities to contain methylhexaneamine including Jack3d, Lipo6 Black Hemo-Rage, Spriodex, Napalm, Tested Burner, Mass Pump3D, Presurge Unleashed, Beta-Cret Extreme, Noxpum, Black Bombs Thermogenic Detonator, Dexaprine, Maximise, Endoburn, HydroxyStim, Neurocore, Mesomorph and OxyElite.
(Photo source: Shane Sterling/http://www.nutraingredients.com)

The Court stated, “A substance does not need to be expressly listed in the WADA Prohibited List to be considered a prohibited substance in sport. Substances specifically listed are prohibited, but so are all related substances with a similar chemical structure or similar biological effect(s).

“The List is an open list. It would be impractical to cite all stimulants because of the large numbers of compounds available on the market. Further, an open list allows the inclusion of those designer drugs created only for doping purposes.

“Methylhexaneamine not only has a very similar chemical structure to tuaminoheptane, one of the stimulants listed under Section 6 of the WADA Prohibited List, but it has also has similar biological effects to it.” 

Methylhexanamine is reported to have similar biological effects to the banned stimulant amphetamine and its analogues.
(Photo source: Wikipedia)

Of interest to me was another statement found in the 2009 decision in relation to the fact that the Lausanne lab was only first able to identify and confirm the presence of methylhexaneamine in an athlete’s sample, a month after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The court stated, “It is immaterial that the laboratory had not found this particular substance on any previous occasion.”

It makes you wonder if it is also immaterial that the Beijing lab could not find the same substance in Carter’s sample in 2008 but the Lausanne lab was able to find it in 2016.

Urine samples from Chinese athletes are recorded upon arriving at China Anti-Doping Agency in Beijing.
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

To quote another part of the 2009 ruling, “By IAAF Rule 33.4 WADA-accredited Laboratories are presumed to have conducted sample analyses and custodial procedures in accordance with the International Standards for Laboratories. The athlete may rebut this presumption by establishing that a departure from the International Standard for Laboratories has occurred.”

In cases like this, strict liability lies on the shoulders of the athlete for all substances found in their bodies. According to the learned Mr Patterson, similarly, from the time their sample is taken to the time the sample is finally tested, a similar burden lies on the testing authorities to ensure that strict adherence to the stipulated process is followed.

Nesta Carter may have a single shot to overturn the IOC’s decision to ban his performances at the 2008 Olympics.
(Photo credit: Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

For me, that is the get-out-of-jail-card if Carter is going to win the appeal process. He must rebut and establish that there was a significant departure from the International Standard for Laboratories with regard to either the handling or analysis of his sample and/or in the discipline meted to him by the IOC. If he cannot, a successful appeal seems bleak.

We must remember that in the court of law, at times, the burden of proof perches not on whether you committed a crime. However, whether in the attempt to bring you to justice, the prosecution has followed all the processes to the T.

Until next time…

© Zaheer Clarke

Zaheer E. Clarke is a multi-award-winning freelance sportswriter and a former research chemist. At this point, he’d tell you a chemistry joke, but all the good one’s argon … What is the most important chemistry rule he learned in the lab? Whatever you do, never lick the spoon!

He can be reached at zaheer.clarke@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook at Zaheer Facts, Lies & Statistics, or on Twitter at @zaheerclarke.

This blog article was published in the Western Mirror on February 13, 2017.