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As The Track and Field World Turns…

US Athletes to IOC: We Will No Longer Be Silenced

United States athletes and 1968 Mexico Games sprinter John Carlos have called for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to discard rules barring athletes from protesting at the Olympic Games.

In a letter to the IOC, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s (USOPC) athlete council requested that Olympic chiefs abolish its antiprotest regulation.

The letter was sent in partnership with former US sprinter Carlos, who was kicked out of the Mexico City Games in 1968 for raising his fist on the medal podium of the 200m medal ceremony in a black power salute along with bronze medalist compatriot Tommie Smith.

Silver medalist Peter Norman, a white Australian, who did not salute but supported their cause on the podium, took considerable heat in Australia for wearing a button that said, ‘Olympic Project for Human Rights’ and for his comments comparing the problems of Aborigines to those of American Blacks.

“Athletes will no longer be silenced,” the US athlete council wrote in the letter.

“The IOC and International Paralympic Committee cannot continue on the path of punishing or removing athletes who speak up for what they believe in, especially when those beliefs exemplify the goals of Olympism,” the letter read.

“Instead, sports administrators must begin the responsible task of transparent collaboration with athletes and athlete groups to reshape the future of athlete expression at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

The issue of athlete protests at the Olympics came under renewed scrutiny following the wave of protests which erupted across the United States and around the world following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

The USOPC had been criticized after issuing reprimands to US hammer thrower Gwen Berry and fencer Race Imboden, who both protested on the podium during the 2019 Pan-American Games in Lima to draw attention to social injustice.

Berry, who raised a clenched fist on the podium, and Imboden, who knelt down, were given a year’s probation by the USOPC and warned they could face severe sanctions if they carried out similar protests again.

IOC rules bar any “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” at the games.

In the weeks since the protests over George Floyd’s death erupted, the USOPC has said it will review rules regarding athlete protests, saying officials had “failed to listen and tolerated racism and inequality”.

The IOC, which in January issued an updated set of guidelines regarding athlete activism, outlawing any kind of demonstration on the medal podium or field of play, has hinted it may be willing to soften its stance.

The IOC is backing discussions led by the Olympic Athletes Commission to consider ways of allowing “dignified” shows of support for anti-racism initiatives.

The USOPC athlete council and Carlos had requested abolishing the rule against protests during a conference call with the IOC’s Athletes Commission.

In its letter to the IOC released the past weekend, the US Olympians said freedom of expression was a “fundamental human right”.

“The Olympic and Paralympic movement simultaneously honors athletes like John Carlos and Tommie Smith, displaying them in museums and praising their Olympic values, while prohibiting current athletes from following in their footsteps,” the letter read.

“Carlos and Smith risked everything to stand for human rights and what they believed in, and they continue to inspire generation after generation to do the same. It is time for the Olympic and Paralympic movement to honour their bravery rather than denounce their actions.” –AFP

F1 World Champion: Former F1 Supremo’s Comments Ignorant, Uneducated

British Formula One World champion racing driver Lewis Hamilton labelled Bernie Ecclestone, the former Formula 1 (F1) supremo, as “ignorant and uneducated” after Ecclestone, claimed that “Black people are sometimes more racist than white”.

Formula One is the highest class of single-seater auto racing, and Ecclestone was F1 supremo for four decades. He was asked to comment on Hamilton’s recent anti-racism initiatives.

While praising the six-time World champion for his campaigning, the 89-year-old Ecclestone doubted that the creation of the driver’s Hamilton Commission, which hopes to steer more Black youngsters into motor racing, will have any great effect.

“I don’t think it’s going to do anything bad or good for Formula 1,” he told CNN.

“It’ll just make people think, which is more important. I think that’s the same for everybody. People ought to think a little bit and think: ‘Well, what the hell. Somebody’s not the same as white people, and Black people should think the same about white people.’

“In lots of cases, Black people are more racist than what white people are.”

When challenged to elaborate, Ecclestone admitted he was unable to provide any evidence for his opinion, saying simply that he had “noticed” it over the years.

“Bernie is out of the sport and of a different generation, but this is exactly what is wrong — ignorant and uneducated comments which show how far we as a society need to go before real equality can happen,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram.

“If someone who has run the sport for decades has such a lack of understanding of the deep-rooted issues, we as Black people deal with every day, how can we expect all the people who work under him to understand?

“It starts at the top.”

F1, which has come under fire from Hamilton for its lack of diversity, distanced itself from Ecclestone’s remarks.

“At a time when unity is needed to tackle racism and inequality, we completely disagree with Bernie Ecclestone’s comments that have no place in Formula 1 or society,” it said in a statement.

“Mr. Ecclestone has played no role in Formula 1 since he left our organization in 2017, his title Chairman Emeritus, being honorific, expired in January 2020.”

Coe: No Deal to Allow Banned Athletes to Compete in Tokyo

Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics, says there will be no deals done to allow banned track and field stars to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.

This is in reference to World champions Christian Coleman and Salwa Eid Naser who are provisionally suspended for each missing three drugs tests in a 12-month period—an offence which carries a two-year ban.

Coleman, who won 100 metres gold in Doha last September, says if the charge against him is upheld he will push for a one-year “deal” to enable him to compete in Japan.

But Coe dismissed the notion of any athlete getting preferential treatment, no matter their status.

“We have to be unflinching on this,” said Coe, who has trebled the governing body’s anti-doping budget for its independent Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) to £6.44 million.

“It is irrelevant the status of the athlete. The most important thing in modern testing now is that it is intelligence led.

“I would be very surprised if there was any thought that a deal is going to be struck here or, in any of these cases. It’s just not the system. That is not what the AIU does.”

Coe defended the time taken to reach a verdict after other athletes cried foul at Naser being able to compete in Doha despite her three whereabouts failures having come prior to the championships.

“We must always understand that there is a real onus on being able to investigate properly, and without cutting corners,” he said.

“Once you’ve established it, there can be no excuses, and that’s important. We need to get through the kind of ‘dog-ate-my-homework’ excuses that are thrown out, but we have to be sure we are on absolutely solid ground.”

Coe added that there is no reason anyone should fail to understand the ‘whereabouts’ rule, which requires athletes to say where they will be for one hour a day.

Attorney Calls for Caribbean Sports Court

Internationally known sports lawyer, Emir Crowne, is calling for the creation of a regional sports court to settle disputes involving Caribbean athletes, as he feels that costs associated with taking cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is not possible for most athletes from the region.

Crowne will be defending Naser for a filing violation and is criticizing the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) regarding their doping protocols,

Crowne does not believe that the CAS, which is based in Switzerland, is capable of addressing regional sporting issues such as doping, because of the high cost involved for athletes’ cases to be heard. It can cost from $1.4 million to over $4.4 million to have cases heard at CAS.

“The Court of Arbitration for Sport is hailed as the gold standard for sport. If that is people’s idea of gold, then it is fool’s gold. To just register your appeal cost 1,000 Swiss francs, which is US$1,000. To have the arbitration heard by just one panelist is between 8,000 and 10,000 Swiss francs. Doping cases 90 per cent of the time are heard by a panel of three. So, a panel of three, you triple that, and it is at least 25,000 to 40,000 Swiss francs,” Crowne said. “You give me one athlete in the developing world that has 40,000 Swiss francs lying around to fund a doping appeal. I think CAS is inadequate to deal with doping disputes from smaller counties.”

TJ World Record for Yulimar Rojas

It was her final attempt of the evening, and Venezuela’s triple jump queen, Yulimar Rojas, leaped to a world indoor record of 15.43m at the Meeting Villa de Madrid, the final World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting of the season, on Friday, February 21.

The two-time World champion opened with a foul but then registered a valid 14.65m in round two to immediately take the lead. After another foul in round three, she sailed out to 15.29m in round four, breaking her own South American indoor record and moving to second on the world indoor all-time list.

Following a third foul in round five, Rojas nailed every stage and landed at 15.43m, adding seven centimeters to the world indoor record that had stood since 2004.

It was also two centimeters farther than her outdoor PB and is the absolute second-best triple jump performance, indoors or outdoors.

The writing was on the wall since Rojas produced the farthest triple jump in the last ten years at the International Indoor meet in Metz, France on Sunday, February 9. The defending World Champion produced a massive 15.04m jump on her final attempt, breaking her own South American record. Her 15.04m was the first time indoor over the 15m mark since Olga Rypakova’s 15.14m jump to win the World Indoor Championships in Doha in 2010.

Swede Vaults to World Record

One week after breaking the pole vault world record, Sweden’s Armand Duplantis moved the mark again Saturday, February 15, to 6.18m at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Glasgow, Scotland, a stop of the World Athletics Indoor Tour.

The 20-yr-old vaulter was in superior form as he opened at 5.50m and cleared over 5.75m on his second try. Two-time World champion Sam Kendricks led at that point, but his lead was short-lived as the American exited the competition at the next height, 5.84m.

Duplantis, however, sailed over on his first attempt at that height. With no one else in the competition, he then flew over 6.00m, a UK indoor all-comers’ record. His clearance over the bar suggested he was capable of going much higher.

Duplantis then had the bar moved to 6.18m. A minor technical glitch with the starting equipment for the women’s 400m allowed a window for him to take his first attempt at the world record height. One attempt was all it took him to vault well clear of the bar, setting his second world record in as many weeks.

Fraser-Pryce, Coleman Superb over 60m

Jamaica’s sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won her only 60m indoor competition of the season at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix.

Fraser-Pryce, the two-time Olympic and nine-time sprint champion, was the clear winner in the 60m final with 7.16secs. In second place was Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure in 7.22, and Jamaica’s Natasha Morrison took the third spot in 7.30.

Finally healthy, American Ronnie kept his comeback going by winning the men’s equivalent in 6.50secs over his countryman Mike Rodgers in 6.67. Third went to Slovak Jan Volk in 6.68.

Last week in New York, Baker chased down Demek Kemp to claim the Millrose 60m title in 6.54. It has been nearly two years since he ran indoor.

While Baker was winning in Glasgow, Christian Coleman of the USA was doing the same in Albuquerque, New Mexico clocking an impressive World lead and his second-best mark in his career of 6.37secs. Last year at the U.S. indoor track and field championships, Coleman set the current 60m indoor World record at 6.34.

Coleman’s countryman, Marvin Bracy, took second place with 6.49, while another American, Brandon Carnes, came third with 6.53.

Jamaica’s Bloomfield Victorious

Jamaica’s Akeem Bloomfield won the 400m in Glasgow, clocking 46.20secs to get the better of the USA’s Obi Igbokwe, 46.41, and Kuwait’s Yousef Karam, 46.49. It was Bloomfield’s first and only indoor race for the season.

His compatriot, Nathan Allen, who is returning from an injury that stopped him from finding his way to last year’s Doha World Championships, found the going tough and rounded out the eight-man field in 47.89.

Czech Republic’s Pavel Maslák, 46.51, and Great Britain’s James Williams, 47.26, were the other athletes to finish ahead of Allen.

Jamaica’s two entrants in the female equivalent, Stephanie-Ann McPherson and Janieve Russel got boxed in and fell to the track.

US Indoor Triple Jump Record Broken Twice 

Tori Franklin produced the highlight of the first day of the US Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, Friday, February 14, leaping to a U.S. indoor triple jump record of 14.64m.

Her winning mark came in response to Keturah Orji, who had broken the record just moments earlier with 14.60m.

Shelby Houlihan won the highly anticipated 3000m against national indoor mile record-holder Elle Purrier. Houlihan dictated the race early and stepped up the pace in the second half, gradually speeding up with each lap. A final circuit of 29.89 was enough to see off the last of her challengers as she won in 8:52.03.

Long Jump World Lead

World long jump champion Malaika Mihambo delighted spectators at the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin on Friday (Feb. 14) with a world-leading leap of 7.07m.

The 26-year-old German led only on countback after three rounds with 6.68m. She then improved to 6.84m and produced her winning jump in the final round, breaking her own meeting record and moving up to tenth place on the world indoor all-time list.

World bronze medalist Ese Brume of Nigeria finished second with 6.79m, four centimeters ahead of Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova of Belarus.

Since the turn of the millennium, only two other women have jumped farther than Mihambo indoors: USA’s Brittney Reese and Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic.

Hot Action at Tiger Paw Invitational

World 110m hurdles champion Grant Holloway of the USA opened his 2020 campaign in stunning fashion at the Tiger Paw Invitational in Clemson on Friday (Feb. 14).

The 22-year-old breezed through the rounds, winning his first race in 7.52 to equal the world lead before reducing it to 7.48 in round two. He saved the best for the final and sped to a 7.38 victory, just 0.03 shy of the lifetime best he set last year.

World U-20 indoor record-holder Trey Cunningham finished second in a personal best (PB) of 7.51.

The women’s 60m hurdles was similarly exciting as World indoor champion Kendra Harrison took on 2015 World champion Danielle Williams. Like Holloway, Harrison came out on top in every round and got quicker each time, clocking 7.97, 7.88 and then a world-leading 7.80. Williams contested just two of the rounds, recording a season’s best of 7.99.

Jonathan Jones of Barbados won a close 400m contest with Bryce Deadmon, 45.78 to 45.86. 400m hurdles specialist Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands won his heat in a national indoor record of 45.84.

Jamaica’s Carey McLeod made a huge breakthrough to win the long jump. The 21-year-old, whose previous best was 7.79m, leaped out to 8.16m to win by 21 centimeters.

The women’s 60m was the closest event of the first day of action in Clemson as Celera Barnes and World U-20 silver medalist Twanisha Terry were declared joint winners, both stopping the clock at 7.18.

Trinidad Looks to Appeal Ahye’s Ban

Dave Williams, legal advisor to the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee Brian Lewis, believes they have a good chance of having the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturn the two-year ban imposed on Michelle Lee Ahye  for whereabouts violations. 

World Athletics banned Ahye, the 2018 Commonwealth Games 100m champion on January 25, 2020, after she missed three doping tests between June 23, 2018 and April 19, 2019.

Olympics Will Take Place as Planned

Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshirō Mutō has labelled as “irresponsible rumors” suggestions that this year’s Olympics and Paralympics could be cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak. He reiterated his insistence that the Games will go ahead as planned.

Speaking during the latest International Olympic Committee (IOC) project review of Tokyo 2020, Mutō said organizers “would like to make it clear again that we are not considering postponing or cancelling the Games”.

World Indoor Championships Postponed

Major concerns over the outbreak and spread of the deadly coronavirus in China has forced World Athletics (formerly IAAF or International Association of Athletics Federations),

the world governing body for track and field, to postpone this year’s World Indoor Athletics Championships that was slated for March 13-15 in Nanjing, China. March 2021 is being considered for the event. 

World Athletics also considered the possibility of relocating the event to another country but decided against doing so as that option could lead to further postponement at a later date. “We believe we will be able to find a suitable date in 2021 to host this event. We would like Nanjing to be the host given the extensive planning and preparation they have put into this event,” World Athletics said on its website.

The governing body has said it is also monitoring the situation to consider their options for the Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for April 19 in Shanghai. Although the virus originated in Wuhan, the Shanghai Health Commission has acknowledged that dozens of new cases were identified in Shanghai.

Star versus Stars at Millrose Games 

Jamaica’s World Under-20 defending sprint double champion Briana Williams takes on a strong field at the 113th NYRR Millrose Games, Saturday, February 8. The 17-yr-old will face American Olympians Allyson Felix and English Gardner, and 2019 U.S. 100m champion and World 100m finalist Teahna Daniels, 

After giving birth to her daughter in November 2018, Felix, a 200m-400m specialist, returned to competition this past season, winning a gold medal on the mixed 4x400m relay at the Doha World Championships. She is sharpening up for her fifth and final Olympic Games appearance this summer.

Gardner, like Felix, was a member of the victorious sprint relay team in Rio. She became the seventh-fastest woman in history that year, running 10.74 in the 100m before a series of injuries almost derailed her career. She returned to the track in style at the Millrose Games last year, winning the 60m in a personal best of 7.10.

Also in the Millrose 60m lineup are Queens, New York, native and Armory regular competitor Deajah Stevens, a former NCAA champion who competed in the 200m at the Rio Olympics, and Germany’s Tatjana Pinto.

Fraser-Pryce, Compatriots for Glasgow

World 100m champion Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and World Indoor 60m champion Murielle Ahoure of the Ivory Coast will lead the women’s 60m field at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix Glasgow at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday, February 15.

Two other Jamaicans will also face the starter: Natalliah Whyte, a world 4x100m gold medalist for leading off the Jamaican team in Doha, and Olympic and World Relays medalist Christania Williams, who recently moved from MVP Track Club in Jamaica to Tumbleweed Club in Florida.

Sherone Simpson Is Out

Jamaica’s Beijing 2008 Olympic Games 100m silver medalist and world’s fastest woman in 2006 Sherone Simpson recently announced her retirement from track and said she intends to serve in the area of sports psychology.

The Melbourne, Australia 2006 Commonwealth Games 200m champion noted that Jamaica has many talents, but the focus is always on the physical training while the mental aspect of it is being ignored.

She used Jamaican schoolboy football as an example, explaining that teams generally perform well in the early stage of competition but struggle in the latter part.

This, she says, happens not because some players are not physically prepared but because they are not mentally ready as the competition gets tougher.

Simpson believes not enough sports psychologists are in Jamaica and said that she will use her experience in the sport to help young athletes see their way.

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