LONDON (AP):From Serena Williams’ near Grand Slam in tennis to Japan’s shock defeat of South Africa in the Rugby World Cup and Barcelona’s dominance on the football pitch, there was much to admire in international sports this year.But much of it was spent dwelling on scandal – from widespread allegations of bribery and corruption at FIFA to systemic doping and cover-up in athletics.Football officialdom endured a shameful year.Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president since 1998, and Michel Platini, European football’s top official, were banned from all football-related activity for eight years for a FIFA payment of about $2 million to Platini in 2011. The payment was judged by FIFA’s ethics commission to be a conflict of interest and disloyal to the world body. Both deny wrongdoing and will appeal the decision.And in athletics, Russia’s federation was suspended after it was accused of operating a state-sponsored doping program. The suspension could keep Russia out of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.Athletics had its more inspiring moments, Usain Bolt in many of them. A lunge to the line saw him see off Justin Gatlin in the 100 metres at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing – the scene of perhaps his greatest achievements in the 2008 Olympics.Golf got its own new superstar this year, too. Jordan Spieth won the first two majors, and just fell short in the other two.It was also a big year for Australia and New Zealand. The neighbours contested the finals of both the cricket and rugby World Cups. Australia won the former to claim their fifth Cricket World Cup while New Zealand got revenge when they became the first team to successfully defend the Rugby World Cup.Here are some notable moments in sports this year, as captured by photographers from The Associated Press.
Edwin Allen and St Jago High ruled supreme at the Digicel-sponsored Central Championships, which came to an end yesterday at G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sports.Both teams had overwhelming victories to top the girls and boys sections and are both $250,000 richer thanks to sponsors Digicel.With five of the major teams among the girls on show, the Michael Dyke-coached team from Frankfield, Clarendon showed no mercy as their depth proved too strong for their opponents. Edwin Allen amassed 480 points, 162 more than their nearest rival, Holmwood Technical (318). St Jago (264), Vere (222) and Hydel (200) closed off the top five.”We were the defending champions and based on the team we put out there over the two days, we came to win back our title and I had no doubt about our winning chances,” said Dyke, who singled out Class 3 double winner Cemore Donald for her impressive wins in the 800m and 1500m.It was quinella for Edwin Allen in the 800m for Class 1 girls as Janiel Moore clocked 2:15.52 for the win ahead of Ashanni Robb 2:16.29 and Holmwood Technical’s Melissa Tyme (2:17.04).Holmwood’s Class 1 athlete, Ashley Williams copped a brilliant double. Earlier in the day, she raced to an impressive personal best of 52.72 seconds to take the 400m ahead of St Jago’s Andrenette Knight (54.18) and Edwin Allen’s Shannon Kallawan (54.33).She returned later to win the 200m in 23.83. Patrice Moodie of Edwin Allen was second in 24 with third going to St Jago’s Shanice Reid in 24.70.There were some outstanding results in the timed finals sprint hurdles with St Jago’s Andrenette Knight leading the way in Class 1 100m hurdles. After her disappointment in the 400m hurdles, Knight returned in fine style to win in 13.66 ahead of Holmwood’s Gabrielle McDonald who won her heat in 13.73.Holmwood’s Shanette Allison scored a major upset in Class 2 100m hurdles after a quick 13.59 to surprise Manchester’s, Sidney Marshall, who was second in 13.64.WELCOME RETURNIt was a welcome return to the championships for St Jago’s boys as the Danny Hawthorne-coached team which missed out last year, returned to steamroll the opposition, scoring a whopping 421 points.Edwin Allen (132), Holmwood (128), Manchester (65) and Garvey Maceo (62) closed out the top five.St Jago’s Keenan Lawrence had an impressive run in the Class 2 800m, stopping the clock at 1:54.96 as his nearest rival, teammate Keneil Samms was way behind in second with a time of 2:00.60 with Dwayne Moore of Spalding taking third in 2:00.70.Tiki Butler captured the Boys Class 2 100m hurdles in 14.39 seconds, ahead of teammate, Jahvel Granville second in 14.67 as Tijon Taylor of Hydel was third in 15.19.Gary Gordon (10.97), won the 100m Class 2 event for the Monk Street team, ahead of teammate, Taiwane Crooks (10.98).St Jago ended the meet in fine style as Sean Bailey, Colin Sewell, Leon Clarke and Timor Barrett posted 3:11.69 in winning the 4×400 metres Open, the fastest time so far this season by a schoolboy team.
NEW YORK (AP): The blockbuster US Open final between No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Roger Federer today is tantalising for so many reasons. They have built a long and riveting rivalry, with a combined 26 major trophies – a record 17 for Federer, nine for Djokovic. It will be the fourth Federer vs Djokovic meeting in a Grand Slam final, with Federer winning at the 2007 US Open and Djokovic winning at Wimbledon each of the past two years. And it is their 42nd head-to-head match overall, with Federer barely ahead, 21-20. “It’s just a straight shootout,” Federer said, “and I think that’s the cool thing about our rivalry. It’s very athletic.” He explained that he doesn’t feel as if either of them needs to adjust style or tactics too much for their matches, and that, in many ways, they know how to deal with the other’s strengths and styles. “We can both handle … whatever we present to one another,” Federer said. “It’s very even.” At the moment, Djokovic is the best baseliner around, contorting his body this way and that, going from defence to offence in a blink, and maybe the best returner around, too. While so much attention was paid to Serena Williams’ oh-so-close bid to complete the Grand Slam, Djokovic has gone 26-1 at majors in 2015, with titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon and a runners-up finish at the French Open in between. Brilliant, attacking tennis Federer, 34, is playing a brilliant brand of attacking tennis and serving as well as ever, broken twice in 82 games this tournament. Both should be well rested for today, because both are coming off remarkably easy semi-final victories on Friday that each lasted only about 1 1/2 hours. Djokovic beat defending champion Marin Cilic 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 in the most lopsided semi-final in New York in the Open era. Federer eliminated two-time major champion Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. Djokovic will be playing in his sixth final at the U.S. Open, but the only one he won came in 2011. Federer, a five-time U.S. Open champion, is into his first final at Flushing Meadows since 2009. Each of the following two years, he lost in the semi-finals to Djokovic, each time 7-5 in the fifth set, each time after Federer held two match points. Lately, it’s been Djokovic’s coach, Boris Becker, who has been quoted as criticising Federer, including voicing a distaste for the Swiss star’s latest manoeuvre. The “SABR” – it stands for “Sneak Attack by Roger” – is when Federer races forward on an opponent’s second serve and essentially half-volleys a return while heading to the net. “It’s an exciting shot for him. For the player (on the) opposite side of the net, not so much,” Djokovic said, noting he hasn’t considered trying it. “So I have nothing else to say about that.”
NORWICH (4-2-3-1)RUDDY, WISDOM, BENNETT, BASSONG, OLSSON, O’NEIL, MULUMBU, HOWSON, REDMOND, BRADY,MBOKANIARSENAL (4-2-3-1)GIROUD, GIBBS, OZIL, SANCHEZ, CAZORLA, ARTETA, MONREAL, MERTESACKER, KOSCIELNY, BELLERIN,CECHOn Tuesday Arsenal beat Dinamo Zagreb, of Croatia, 3-0 in the Champions League, meaning they go into their final group game, against Olympiakos in Greece, a fortnight later still with a chance to qualify for the knock-out stages.They return to the Barclays Premier League at Norwich City having squandered the chance last weekend to take top spot. Had they won at West Bromwich Albion the Gunners would have been first; instead they lost and other results saw them drop to fourth place, though just two points off the top.Having drawn with Spurs in their previous game, Arsenal face Norwich hoping to avoid a third league game without a win since May.Norwich have lost five of their last six games, that poor sequence interrupted by the 1-0 win over Swansea in their last home game. In six home games in the league the Canaries have won two and lost three while scoring just seven goals but conceding only eight.Arsenal have lost just two of 14 games against Norwich. Their first ever game in the Premier League, in August 1992, was against Norwich, at the old Highbury – and the Canaries won 4-2.But the Gunners have won the last three while Norwich last beat the Gunners at Carrow Road in October 2012.
National left back Lance Laing has joined Major League Soccer (MLS)-designate club, Minnesota United FC, the club announced on Tuesday on its website through the link http://www.nasl.com/news/2015/12/15/jamaican-international-lance-laing-j….Laing is one of six NASL All-Star selections this year to be snapped up by Minnesota, who are hoping the Jamaican can add to their record-setting offence as they look to make the step up from the North American Soccer League (NASL) to the more prestigious and lucrative MLS by the 2017 or 2018 season.Minnesota’s sporting director, Manny Lagos, told NASL.com news they played against Laing for many years in the NASL and are excited to get the player.”Seeing his growth from Fort Lauderdale to last season in Edmonton gives us the belief he will continue to grow and excel. As a player, he always presented us with challenges to play against and we’re just really excited to have a player like that on the roster,” he stated.The 27-year-old has played every NASL season since the modern-era league began in 2011 and is the only player to be named in the NASL Best 11 three times. He has been a NASL All-Star for the last two years.The Trelawny native first represented his country at the Under-17 level. He made his national senior team debut in 2008 against El Salvador and most recently played in the 2015 Copa America, where he starred against Lionel Messi and Argentina and the 2015 Gold Cup, helping Jamaica to a historic second-place finish behind Mexico.He began his professional career in 2007 at Harbour View FC and moved after three seasons to his native parish club Village United, then playing the local top-flight. The defender then moved to Fort Lauderdale Strikers, where he played for two years.”I’m very happy to be cheered on by Dark Clouds and their fans. I have always felt (from) playing here that Minnesota fans are the best in the League and I can’t wait to be on the right side of their cheers. It’s an honour to be joining a team that has so many great players and great coaches. It’s going to be a great team to be a part of,” Laing told NASL.com.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Trinidad and Tobago Red Force captain Jason Mohammed says the hosts are bracing for a strong challenge from a strengthened Barbados Pride unit but will be going all out to keep their unbeaten record intact, when the two teams meet in the sixth and final round of the Regional Super50 here today. Red Force have been virtually flawless in the tournament, winning four of their five matches – the other was a no-result – to sit comfortably on top of Group A with 22 points. Pride started weakly but with the return of their international players, stormed back into contention for a semi-final sport with two successive wins, and now lie second on 14 points. However, with Jamaica Scorpions only four points behind and clashing with minnows ICC Americas in their final game at the National Cricket Centre, Pride face a must-win scenario. “I think they have strengthened a lot in all the departments,” Mohammed said ahead of the day/night contest at Queen’s Park Oval. “I think they have a very good bowling attack and also they are very strong in their batting. I think we’re going to have to play a good all-round game to get the better of the Bajans and hopefully we can do it.” In their first meeting in the second round, Red Force disposed of Pride by nine wickets at Queen’s Park Oval, after bundling out the visitors for 161. Since then, West Indies Test captain Jason Holder has returned to lead the side, with fellow international players Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope, Carlos Brathwaite, Shane Dowrich and Jomel Warrican, also picked for the final XI. “It is important for us to keep winning and keep our momentum up and we really want to go through at 100 per cent, and hopefully we can go through the tournament [with a] 100 per cent [record]. If we do that, we will come out with the trophy at the end.”
After an approximate 10-year hiatus from the ISSA/Grace Headley Cup schoolboy cricket competitions, young cricketers at Ferncourt High School in Claremont, St Ann, are on the comeback trail, seeking to mark their place in history.Ferncourt’s coach, Demar Sylvester, said that the ISSA/ Grace Headley Cup had provided his students with the opportunity to engage in and gain valuable knowledge about the sport of cricket in spite of dropping out of the competition. Some of the boys, he said, were first-time cricketers who benefited from the experience.”This has provided us with the opportunity to embark on intense training for the next season. I will also personally seek to solicit the assistance and skills from males in the community who are knowledgeable about the game to assist in training the boys,” Sylvester stated.Avid cricketerSylvester, who describes himself as an avid cricketer, wants as many students as possible to benefit from his coaching and knowledge.”There are many of them who are already demonstrating good work and training ethics, overall discipline, and dedication to the sport,” Sylvester said.The school’s captain, Gary Allen, and his teammates, Dwayne Rose and Raheem Whyte, are among those who are always first to show up for training and the last to leave. Seventh-grader Rikone Harris was also singled out as a bright student with much promise for the future.”The passion that these boys exhibit during training helps to personally give me the energy and zeal to continue working with the team. Their skills are improving, and this is noticeable,” said Sylvester.He is hopeful that through their dedication, they will be among the better players in the parish and, by extension, Jamaica, making cricket their profession.”I believe that if they are given the opportunity to play more practice matches, it could develop their conditional reflex to play the appropriate shots for a given delivery,” he reasoned.Coach at Marcus Garvey Technical High Damani Sewell said that his team entered this season’s competition for exposure to prepare themselves for next year.”I took a tactical decision for them to gain first-hand experience, so we expect to see better performances next season as we are on the verge of developing a good programme,” said Sewell.
Boys and Girls’ Champs 2016 is now done and dusted. Once again, it showcased brilliance as Jamaica continues to lead the world in the systemic production of young track-and-field talent. With two early individual records in the 200 and the 400 metres, along with an overall four gold medals, Christopher Taylor of Calabar High was undoubtedly the most dominant athlete on show. The precocious 16-year-old talent must be looked at beyond the scope of setting Champs records and lifting the Mortimer Geddes Trophy for Calabar. Taylor’s supreme talent is a rare gift to be nurtured and showcased by Jamaica for the wider world. Many observers, myself included, are seriously concerned for the future of Taylor in term of realising his potential as a genuine world beater. The World Youth champion over 400 metres is in his fourth year at Calabar High, where he has been nothing but a fearless and aggressive competitor and a champion. He competed in 10 races at Champs 2016 and was flat out in at least eight of those runs. Outside of the physical rigours of doing so much work at such a young age with such a frail physical structure, the possibility of physical, mental, and psychological burnout of this young gem is a clear and present danger. In terms of making the successful transition to the senior level, it is a potentially lethal combination to be as talented as Taylor at such and early age and to attend a Champs-chasing school like Calabar. Rising to the pinnacle of personal performances and team achievements, 14- and 15-year-old provides for a lofty emotional ride for any young athlete. The satisfaction of excelling repeatedly at Champs from such a very early age could be debilitating for the development and transition process of a special young athlete like Taylor. The story has been told of a former Champs star who instructively also attended Calabar and was competing at a World Junior Championships. When he was approached by his national coach with words of motivation and encouragement before the start of his event, the youngster’s response was: “Coach, it’s not Champs, but I will try my best.” The scary history is there for all to see. None of our current senior international male world beaters were outstanding Champs stars at Class Three and represented Champs-winning teams. The athletes who make the transition are generally not from the top Champs schools and generally were not Class Three standouts. Usain Bolt never won at Class Three and competed for William Knibb; Asafa Powell never won at Champs, he went to Charlemont High; Yohan Blake was a big star at Champs for St Jago, but not at Class Three. As great as Taylor is as an athlete, and as a ruthless as he is as a competitor, he is still human and it would a be a tragedy of immense proportion if this youngster – who is already the best in the entire world at his age group – does not make the successful transition to the senior ranks. He is the most special athlete to emerge from the Jamaican production line since Bolt and while the dynamics are different, we must remember that there were moments along the way when we almost lost Bolt. Just as was done for Bolt, Taylor should be protected from ‘burn out”. One more year in school maximum to facilitate the completion of his physical development, then the deliberate and meticulous process should begin of moulding Taylor into the international star he is destined to be.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Real Madrid head to Manchester City for tomorrow’s first leg of their Champions League semi-final with dark clouds over Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. Both star strikers, who have scored 74 goals between them this season, are nursing right-leg injuries. Ronaldo strained a muscle in a win over Villarreal on Wednesday, ruling him out of Saturday’s match at Rayo Vallecano — that Benzema exited before halftime with a leg injury of his own. Coach Zinedine Zidane said that Ronaldo, who trained on Sunday, will travel with the squad to England. Benzema is a bigger worry for the former France great. “We’re going to assess Benzema,” Zidane said after Saturday’s match. “All I can say is that it’s not a knock. I hope that it’s nothing serious and that he’ll be available for Tuesday.” The 10-time champions have already found their saviour in case Ronaldo and Benzema have not fully recovered to face City. Gareth Bale rose to the occasion when both his strike partners were out on Saturday, scoring two goals to lead a 3-2 comeback victory at Rayo that kept Madrid in the fight for the Spanish league title. For Bale, Madrid have the “psychological” advantage of playing the second leg back in Spain. “If we get a good result in the Etihad Stadium, back at the Bernabeu our fans are always going to help us,” Bale said. “As long as we don’t lose there, we’ll be very confident at the Bernabeu.” Under former Madrid manager Manuel Pellegrini, City are in fine form domestically in April. Besides a draw against lowly Newcastle, high-scoring wins — 3-0 over Chelsea and a 4-0 rout of Stoke on Saturday — are a reminder of City at their best. Kevin de Bruyne has been the inspiration behind the revival, as a dynamo in midfielder since returning after two months out. The Belgian was rested against Stoke in preparation for Madrid. “Now almost everybody is back and it gives us a different feeling,” De Bruyne said.
VIJAYAWADA, India (CMC):West Indies Women were left sweating on automatic qualification for next year’s ICC 50-overs World Cup in England, after crashing to a 15-run defeat to India Women in their must-win final one-day international of the three-match series here Thursday.Set 200 for victory at the Mulapadu Cricket Stadium, the Caribbean girls were dismissed for 184 at the start of the final over, to concede the series 3-0 and further endanger their chances of an automatic berth at the ODI showpiece.They appeared on course at 166 for four in the 45th over, but shockingly lost their last six wickets for just 18 runs to fall apart down the stretch.Kycia Knight struck form with a top score of 55 and teenaged opener Hayley Matthews stroked a breezy 44 from 53 deliveries. But of the remaining specialist batsmen, only former captain Merissa Aguilleira with 22 managed to pass 20, as the Windies Women’s batting let them down yet again.Left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad was the main bowler for the hosts with four for 34, and was especially instrumental at the death, taking three of the six wickets to tumble.The defeat was the Windies Women’s last chance to secure the two ICC Championship points required to seal a top-four position in the standings and gain automatic World Cup qualification.They lie fourth on 22 points but can be overtaken by either India Women who are fifth with 19 points with three games left to play, or by South Africa Women, who are sixth on 17 points, also with three games remaining.GAME TURNAROUNDThey were definitely in the hunt early on when they reduced India Women to 52 for three in the 21st over, but Veda Krishnamurthy turned it around for the hosts with a brilliant 71 off 79 balls.She stroked 10 fours and anchored two half-century stands, which all but deflated the Windies women. First, Krishnamurthy put on 51 for the fourth wicket with Harmanpreet Kaur, who made 19, and then added a further 57 for the fifth wicket with Devika Vaidya, who hit an unbeaten 32 from 45 balls.Even when she perished in the 45th over, becoming the second of Chedean Nation’s two wickets, Vaida and Jhulan Goswami (18 not out) dished out more torment in a 39-run, sixth-wicket partnership off just 24 balls.West Indies Women then got a great start from Matthews, who inspired a 49-run opening partnership with Shaquana Quintyne, who made 18.The right-hander, who faced 53 balls and counted nine fours, put on another 20 for the second wicket with Knight before she was second out, lbw to Gayakwad in the 19th over.