He may be a few months away from his 30th birthday and is still bothered by a serious case of scoliosis, but six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt has no doubt that he still has a lot left in the tank – a point he hopes to prove this season.With the Rio Olympics just around the corner, Bolt will be looking to qualify for his fourth Olympic Games and successfully defend the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay gold medals he won almost four years ago in London.The double world record holder has been very clear about his objectives this season; protect his gold medals and lower his 19.19 world record in the 200m.But is that too much to ask?Bolt doesn’t seem to think so as he points to his poor run of injury-affected seasons and underlined that an uninterrupted 2016 campaign could truly bring out the best in him.”I personally think that I can get better. I haven’t had a good season since 2009, a season that I haven’t gone without injuries or problems, so if I can get through on a clear note, then anything is possible,” Bolt said.It’s perhaps no coincidence that 2009 was the year that the triple gold medal winner – from last year’s World Championships in Beijing – set new marks in the 100m (9.58) and 200m (19.19).He, says, however, that he is approaching the coming season with a positive outlook and noted that he had seen several areas in his technique with room for improvements.”It’s all about staying positive,” said Bolt.”I think I am more focused because over the years I have seen ways where I can improve, and that’s why I have always said that I am more likely to run faster over the 200m because I see where I can improve and I have talked to my coach, so it’s possible,” Bolt added.”It’s all about staying injury-free and staying on top of things and trying to get through the season and push myself towards my targets.”Since running 19.19 seconds over the 200m in 2009, Bolt’s fastest time in the event has been 19.32 seconds, which he did at the 2012 Olympic Games. He has since ended seasons with 19.66 (2013) and 19.55 (2015). He did not run any 200m races in 2014.
TITLE ROBBED The Shell Shield, the Red Stripe Cup, or the President’s Cup, whatever it was called, it served West Indies well, despite its many changes in scoring, which led to the result of the match between the Combined Islands and Trinidad and Tobago in 1975, according to the rules of the completion, ending as a draw instead of a tie, and robbed the Combined Islands of the title. There is also its latest change to a franchise system, with, for example, Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago, now known as the Jamaica Scorpions, the Barbados Pride, and the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force. The late Allan Rae, a former president of the West Indies Board, said on the 21st birthday of the regional competition, “One only has to compare the performances of the West Indies team before Shell’s involvement with the performances since that involvement to appreciate the force for good that the Shell Shield has been on our cricket.” The regional competition started as the Shell Shield, it lasted until 1987 before it changed several times to include the Red Stripe Cup, the President’s Cup, the Busta Cup, and the Carib Beer Series to the present Professional Cricket League of the West Indies. It started with Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and the Combined Islands before teams from faraway places like England and Kenya were invited to participate. The regional competition, which was won by Barbados on 12 occasions in its time as the Shell Shield, was rated by many as the best first-class cricket competition in the world because of the quality of its players and the level of its competition, especially in its early years. The first regional match, known as the Shell Shield, was played between the Combined Islands and Jamaica on January 27, 28, 29, and 31 at the Antigua Recreation Ground in St Johns, Antigua, and it was a draw. It was a match in which opening batsman Teddy Griffith, playing for Jamaica, made 150 runs, the first century in the competition, opening batsman Easton McMorris scored 134 in the second innings, the first of three successive centuries, including 127 not out, out of 236 all out against Trinidad and Tobago, and 190 versus Lance Gibbs and Edwin Mohammed of Guyana. Over the years, there have been huge scores, such as the Leeward Islands 718 for seven against Kenya in Antigua in 2004, Guyana’s 641 for five declared versus Barbados in 1967, and the Leeward Islands 613 for five declared against Trinidad and Tobago at the ARG n 1984, and low scores, such as Guyana’s 41 versus Jamaica at Sabina Park in 1986, the Combined Islands 53 against Barbados at Warner Park in 1974, and 54 by the Windward Islands at Arnos Vale in 1968. Fifty years ago, January 27, 1966, West Indies cricket came of age, fully of age. It was the first day of a regional competition, a competition that provided regular, though limited, competition of four matches per team on an annual basis, and a competition that undoubtedly lifted West Indies cricket into the company of cricket in England, Australia, South Africa, and India. Half a century ago, the Shell Shield was founded, and it signalled the start of the rise of West Indies cricket to the top. The West Indies started playing Test cricket in 1928, they made their presence felt for the first time in 1950 by beating England in England, in 1966, they had their first official and regular tournament, and by the 1980s, the West Indies were the undisputed champions of the world. Today, they are nowhere to be found, not anywhere near the top. In fact, near to the bottom of the ladder. Fifty years ago, following the illustrious careers of players like Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes, Clyde Walcott, Sonny Ramadhin, and Alfred Valentine, the Shell Shield arrived in time to complement those of great players like Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Seymour Nurse, Basil Butcher, Conrad Hunte, Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith, Lance Gibbs, Jackie Hendriks, and Deryck Murray. And it stayed around to herald the coming of champions such as Lawrence Rowe, Alvin Kallicharran, Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Bernard Julien, Keith Boyce, Richie Richardson, Malcolm Marshall, and Jeffrey Dujon, to name a few. SHELL SHIELD
Nicholas ‘The Axeman’ Walters, the Jamaican boxing star, is learning the hard way that although he can knock out opponents on a regular basis, (he has done so 21 times in 27 fights), it is much more difficult to win a negotiating battle with 84-year-old, Bob Arum.Arum is the head of Top Rank, one of the most successful boxing promoting companies in the world.For the past year, a fight between Walters, who until recently held the World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight super title and Vasyl Lomachenko, the World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight champion, has been one of the talking points in boxing circles.The plot one heard from time to time was for Walters and Lomachenko to meet different boxers on the same fight card, and presuming that both fighters won, they would then move into a mega clash with each other.Things took an unlikely turn, however, when Walters lost his title on the scales at the Madison Square Garden weigh-in on June 12, 2015, for a fight scheduled for the next day against Miguel Marriaga.He won that fight convincingly, but the all-important title was no longer his, and this weakened his bargaining power in the negotiations.December 19 drawOn December 19 last year in his next fight, this time as a super featherweight (130 pounds) against Jason Sosa, he ended up with a draw decision. The consensus was that he did win that fight, but the records speak loudly, and his bargaining power again dropped a notch.Promoter Arum decided to fast-forward the proposed Walters versus Lomachenko fight and negotiations started. There was, however, a difference with those negotiations. Instead of being carried out by his long-time manager, Jacques Deschamps, Walters himself took over.There has been some unease in his camp, because Walters was of the view that his purse for the Nonito Donaire title fight was not enough.Deschamps told The Gleaner that it was in fact lower than he would normally have gone for, but he took the strategic decision to accept what was offered, confident that Walters would win the title and boost his future bargaining and earning power.The mission was accomplished when Walters stopped Donaire in six rounds and became a super champion, but Walters was still unhappy and decided that he wanted to do his own negotiations.Information is that Walters did not do a good job with those subsequent negotiations. When the offer to fight Lomachenko came about, however, Walters decided to go for broke.Arum has stated publicly that the Walters demand to fight Lomachenko is for US$1million, a price he is not willing to pay. The Gleaner understands that Arum offered him US$550,000 instead, but Walters has refused that offer. They have been unable to come to any agreement, and last word is that Arum has moved on and is negotiating with WBO Super featherweight champion Roman Martinez to fight Lomachenko instead on June 11.The Gleaner has been unable to contact Walters for a comment as his telephone goes to voice mail and he has not responded to requests for a return call.His father, Job, told The Gleaner yesterday that he knows of the negotiations and he, too, believes that Walters is worth more than is being offered by Arum.He is, however, hopeful that regardless of what happens now, the fight will eventually take place.