Getting ready for World Juniors

first_imgIn 2002, there was no clue that Usain Bolt would become the best 100-metre, sprinter in history. Save for a forlorn Class Three effort at Boys and Girls’ Champions two years earlier, he had concentrated on the 200 and 400 metres with much success. The penny dropped at a training camp hosted by the G.C. Foster College. The nation’s finest junior athletes were assembled at the G.C. Foster College for an ongoing training camp. It was a key plank of Jamaica’s preparation for the World Junior Championships which were set for Kingston in July 2002. Bolt lined up against many of the best junior 100-metre sprinters of the day and cleaned their clocks. Those present were stunned by his speed. It was a glimpse into his famous future. In those days, training camps were a standard part of preparation for our junior teams. In the late 1990s, stalwarts like Ian Forbes, Juliet Parkes and Brian Smith manned these camps. They ensured that our juniors faced the world’s best at their best. There was even a time when support camps were held outside of the Corporate Area, with the late Constantine Haughton sharing his expertise with those who couldn’t reach Kingston. The conversion of Melaine Walker to the 400-metre hurdles was done at camp by World Junior head coach Stephen Francis with the blessing of Walker’s high school Raymond ‘KC’ Graham after an injury had threatened her 2000 season. Walker took a bronze in the World Juniors in her new event and the rest is history. In 2002, the juniors were housed each weekend at G.C. Foster and their school coaches freely attended and shared their knowledge. The out-turn was a brilliant performance by the team when the big show rolled around. Bolt famously won the 200m. Sherone Simpson, Kerron Stewart, Anniesha McLaughlin and Simone Facey clicked to gold in the 4×100 metres. Facey and McLaughlin took silver medals in the 100m and 200m respectively, with Jermaine Gonzales and Sherul Morgan third in their respective 400-metre finals. Walker moved up to second in the hurdles, behind a world junior record by Lashinda Demus of the United States. It’s a pity that the World Junior Championships won’t come to Jamaica in 2016 but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare for it well. The aforementioned training camps have largely dropped off the calender. Where team members come from schools with self-sufficient programmes, they can arrive ready for national duty. That isn’t often the case. In 2010, distance ace Kemoy Campbell was slowed when funding for track at his school ran out after Champs. A camp, like the one that heralded the sprint future of Bolt, would likely have seen to his welfare. Perhaps, a better prepared Campbell would have advanced past the first round on the 1500-metres in the World Juniors in Moncton, Canada. Our top seniors largely have camps of their own, but our juniors suffer if left alone. Our medal haul at the World Juniors tell the story. In 2002, the team’s 11-medal performance may have been boosted by brilliant home support. Since then, the take has settled at lower levels. Jamaica garnered nine medals in 2004, eight in 2006, six in 2008, three in 2010, five in 2012 and six in 2014 at successive stagings of the Under-20 championships. This year, a three-day camp helped to prepare Jamaica’s 2015 Pan-Am Junior team for a 13-medal haul. The 2002 World Junior Championships in Kingston were wonderful. The support by a capacity audience, night after night, and the performances by the likes of Carolina Kluft, Blanka Vlasic, Meseret Defar, Darrell Brown and Bolt make it worthwhile for the authorities to consider a return to Kingston at some point in the future. In the meantime, it makes sense to prepare well for the 2016 renewal, wherever it is staged. The revival of preparatory junior camps would be a good way to get out of the blocks. – Hubert Lawrence was present at the 2002 World Juniors.last_img read more

Champions! 10 BRILLIANT images as Barcelona celebrate treble triumph in Berlin

first_img 10 Luis Enrique runs over to celebrate with the Barcelona fans – continue to see the next great image from the Champions League final’s aftermath – The Spanish manager banished questions over his future in January by steering the Catalans to a stunning European and domestic treble. 10 Gerard Pique collects one of the goal nets – continue to see the next great image from the Champions League final’s aftermath – A souvenir perhaps? The Spanish defender strolls off with the net over his head. Neymar gets a moment alone with the trophy – click right to see the next great image from the Champions League final’s aftermath – The Brazilian sealed victory in injury time after a brilliant individual performance. 10 Gianluigi Buffon is left despondent after another final defeat – click right to see the next great image from the Champions League final’s aftermath – The Italian goalkeeper is still missing the Champions League trophy from his resume after his first final for 12 years. Suarez, Messi and Neymar pose for the cameras – The Barcelona front three amassed 122 goals in all competitions this campaign – will that ever be beaten? Paul Pogba consoles Andrea Pirlo – click right to see the next great image from the Champions League final’s aftermath – The Italian maestro is expected to leave Juventus this summer and, unlike Xavi, couldn’t mark his swansong with the perfect ending. 10 10 10 Xavi lifts the trophy aloft – click right to see the next great image from the Champions League final’s aftermath – The Barcelona captain – the most decorated player in the club’s history – couldn’t have asked for a better way to mark his farewell appearance. 10 Lionel Messi is mobbed by the paparazzi – click right to see the next great image from the Champions League final’s aftermath – The mercurial Argentine had a comparatively quiet night by his standard, but he was still instrumental in Berlin. 10 The Barcelona players celebrate with their manager Luis Enrique – continue to see the next great image from the Champions League final’s aftermath – The Catalans appeared to know where credit was due, throwing their boss up in the air repeatedly as the celebrations continued. 10 Goalscorers Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez celebrate – continue to see the next great image from the Champions League final’s aftermath – Suarez swapped Merseyside for Catalonia last summer and has reaped the rewards in a stunning debut season. 10 Barcelona showcased why their current crop are widely regarded as one of the greatest club sides in history with Champions League glory in Berlin.Their 3-1 victory over Juventus, provided by goals from Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar, earned a hard-fought but deserved win to complete a European and domestic trouble.The result handed Xavi Hernandez, on as a substitute in his 900th appearance for the club, the fairytale ending before he leaves for Qatar after 17 sensational years of service.After securing their first European crown since 2011, the Catalans celebrated long after the final whistle – and talkSPORT collated some of the best images from their post-match antics.last_img read more

France reach World Cup final with tense victory over Belgium

first_img 4 Kylian Mbappe’s skill A close call between Hazard and Mbappe, but the Belgium skipper edged it. France couldn’t get near him all night and when his country were 1-0 down, he carried their entire threat. Deserved better.Moment of the match France edged Belgium to a place in the World Cup final after a nail-biting encounter.Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti proved the difference with a 51st-minute header to separate the two evenly-matched sides. Umtiti celebrates 4 Eden Hazard 4 One goal was enough for France 4 But with so many superstars on the pitch, it was the big centre-back who broke the deadlock from a corner. Umtiti got to the ball before Marouane Fellaini to glance his team in-front.And that’s how it stayed, despite plenty of probing from the irresistible Hazard. Belgium couldn’t match his high standards and clear-cut chances failed to present themselves.In truth, France putting the game to bed was more likely than a Belgian equaliser, with Mbappe devastatingly brilliant on the break.The only question that remains between now and Sunday: can the Three Lions join them in the final?Star man It was a semi-final devoid of goalmouth action but filled with tension and Les Bleus held their nerve in the face of relentless Belgian possession.They now have the chance to lift the World Cup for the first time in 20 years on Sunday, with England or Croatia standing in their way.The two nations were inseparable in the first-half. Eden Hazard provided most of the highlights, twice coming close to scoring and dazzling with some sensational moments of skill.France had their chances through Benjamin Pavard, who forced an excellent save from Thibaut Courtois, and Olivier Giroud. Mbappe’s marvellous flick to Giroud was characteristic of the 19-year-old’s performance: audacious, daring and brilliant. It should’ve resulted in a goal but Giroud fluffed his lines.last_img read more