Elite sport is gradually returning to our screens amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany's Bundesliga, the UFC and the NRL were among the first top-level events to forge a route back last month after pausing due to the global crisis.

A clutch of Europe's other top football leagues, cricket, motorsport and the United States' major competitions all have designs on behind-closed-doors resumptions in the near future, too, which could create a significant backlog of crucial fixtures.

One positive is that sports fans might now be treated to a number of colossal match-ups back-to-back on the same day at some point over the coming months.

That prospect gives us the opportunity to reflect on five similar occasions with the greatest sporting days since the turn of the century - including one exactly a year ago.

 

JULY 23, 2000

The US had a day to remember as two of their most prominent stars bolstered their still burgeoning reputations with big victories on foreign soil.

The paths of Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong have subsequently diverged a little, however.

Woods became the youngest player to complete golf's career grand slam with a record-breaking victory at The Open in 2000, while Armstrong wrapped up a second straight Tour de France title.

The American duo stood at the top of the world, yet history will recall Armstrong's achievements rather differently now he has been stripped of each of his seven successive yellow jerseys for doping.

Woods at least maintained his high standards and held all four major titles after the 2001 Masters, winning again at Augusta as recently as last year.

FEBRUARY 1, 2004

Two more sporting greats shared the same special page in the calendar early in 2004.

It was a long day for anyone who took in both Roger Federer's performance in Melbourne's Australian Open final and Tom Brady's Super Bowl display in Houston, but they were duly rewarded.

Twenty-time grand slam champion Federer had won just one major before facing down Marat Safin in Australia, also becoming the ATP Tour's top-ranked player for the first time. He stayed at number one for a record-shattering 237 weeks.

Brady similarly then doubled his tally of Super Bowl rings by delivering a second triumph in three years for the Patriots, in what was a classic encounter against the Carolina Panthers.

Brady threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, before Adam Vinatieri's field goal secured a 32-29 win with four seconds remaining.

AUGUST 4-5, 2012

One would struggle to find a greater array of star-studded athletes of various sports than those who congregated in London across the penultimate weekend of the 2012 Olympic Games.

On the Saturday evening, at the Aquatics Centre, swimming prepared to say goodbye to its greatest name. Michael Phelps and the United States won the 4x100m medley, clinching his 18th gold medal in what appeared set to be his final race.

Indeed, Phelps confirmed his retirement following the Games, only to return in predictably dominant fashion in 2016.

Across the city that same night, Team GB athletes were capping a stunning run of medals that would see the day dubbed "Super Saturday". There were six home golds in all, including big wins for Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah in quick succession.

The drama only continued the next day, too, as Andy Murray finally sealed a Wimbledon win over Federer in the tennis event, while Usain Bolt lit up London Stadium in the 100m.

JUNE 1, 2019

It is 12 months to the day since another epic sporting stretch, one that concluded in stunning fashion with one of boxing's great modern upsets.

Rugby union and football each had their respective turns in the spotlight earlier, with Saracens following up their European Champions Cup success - a third in four years - by retaining the Premiership title with victory over Exeter Chiefs.

In Madrid, two more English teams were in action as Liverpool edged past Tottenham in the Champions League final.

But as Sarries and the Reds celebrated, focus turned towards Madison Square Garden where Anthony Joshua was expected to make light work of Andy Ruiz Jr, a replacement for Jarrell Miller following a failed drugs test.

The heavyweight title match did not go to script, however, as Ruiz floored Joshua four times and forced a stoppage to claim his belts, albeit only until the rematch where the Briton saved face.

JULY 14, 2019

These crazy spectacles have largely seen sport spread throughout the day, but three sets of eyes were required to keep up with the action on an epic afternoon last July.

With England hosting and then reaching the Cricket World Cup final, the scene-stealing decider fell on the same day as the Wimbledon men's final and the British Grand Prix, ensuring the United Kingdom was the focus of the sporting world.

The cricket started off several hours before either the tennis or the F1 but still managed to outlast its rival events, with Ben Stokes determined to put on a show as England won via a dramatic Super Over at the end of a nine-hour saga against New Zealand.

Novak Djokovic was battling Stokes for attention as he was taken all the way by that man Federer at the All England Club before finally prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in the tournament's longest singles final.

The respective classics made the British GP, completed earlier in the day, something of an afterthought - but not for Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a record sixth victory.

On Sunday, the world welcomed news of the birth of the first child of track and field icon Usain Bolt and his lovely other half Kasi Bennett. Congratulations to both who I am sure will make wonderful parents to their little girl.

NBA great turned noted basketball pundit Charles Barkley recently named basketball legend Michael Jordan and golfer Tiger Woods as the two greatest athletes he has seen in his lifetime.  Surely, he has never tuned in to track and field to witness the exploits of Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt.

Of course, at first glance, I chalked up Barkley’s comments to the long-extolled values of ‘America first’, commonplace for USA sporting analysts and popular in that arena long before President Donald Trump weaponized the ideology to disastrous effect. 

After all, it is routine for the US to refer to its national sporting champions as world champions, despite playing the competition only within the country’s borders and excluding other contenders around the globe.

Resisting the urge to completely dismiss the observance as humdrum, overly exuberant nationalist fervour, I decided I took a closer look.  It’s a lot closer than you would think.

There is often a tendency to try to forget the greatness of Tiger by looking at the player’s recent injury issues and scandal-hit career, forgetting that at his best Tiger was one of the most dominant players to ever play a sport.

For starters, at the age of 20, Woods became the first man to win three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles. He was the youngest to win the Masters, the fastest ever to ascend to No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings and, at 24, the youngest to win the career Grand Slam.

In addition, he held on to the No. 1 ranking for 281 consecutive weeks, which is to say five-plus years. His 82 PGA Tour wins has him tied with Sam Snead for the most ever and nine ahead another legendary golfer, Jack Nicklaus.  Tiger's 15 major titles leave him three behind Nicklaus but he is no longer a sure bet to break that record.  For some, this means he might never be the greatest golfer, but let's leave that argument for the time being. 

In addition to his remarkable achievements, Tiger’s propensity to always shine when the lights were brightest made the game of golf sexy.  From massive sponsorship deals to a major increase in prize money, he revolutionized the game.

But, without taking anything away anything from Tiger, he still doesn’t quite measure up to the legend of Bolt.

 In a sport like track and field where dominance often seems to barely last longer than the 10-second dash to the line, Bolt’s near-decade-long supremacy is unprecedented.

The sprinter’s haul of 14 World Championships (11 gold), 8 Olympic Games medals combined with three earth-shattering world records speaks volumes for themselves.  But, in a sport where the winner is defined by mere fractions of a second, Bolt’s four-year 45 race winning streak over 100m is a feat in and of itself.  His longest undefeated streak in the 200 m was in 17 finals, lasting from 12 June 2008 to 3 September 2011.  There is an endless number of statistics that could be added to the pile on this comparison but that isn’t really the point.   

The simple fact of the matter is that Bolt, like Jordan, had in the same vein a potently combined aura of invincibility and transcendental quality that Tiger does not.

 Outside of the US, little boys and girls around the globe took up their basketballs and dreamt of being like Mike.  On tracks around the world, no matter what the surface, after seeing or hearing of his surreal Olympic feats, kids took off running as they fantasized about being like Bolt.  Tiger would, of course, have influenced some to play golf but to imagine a level of influence anywhere close to the other two is surely a bridge too far.

Both the symbols of Bolt and Jordan, the 'Jumpman' and lighting Bolt, after all, became trademarks associated with triumph, conquest, excellence, and unquestionable status as the ultimate competitor.  I’m not sure the same could be said about Tiger's swingman. Oh wait, there is no swingman.

 

Retired Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt has listed the 2015 Beijing World Championships 100m struggle against American Justin Gatlin as one of his toughest ever races.  

Heading into the championships, Bolt, who was recovering from injury, was short on fitness with many doubting his capacity to hit top gear.  It would have taken a brave man to bet against the Jamaica sprint king but some were convinced an upset was on the cards as the American had looked imperious.  Heading into the event, Gatlin had dominated opponents all season to put together a 28-race win streak.

“I was totally not the favourite this time,  I could tell that,” Bolt said in an interview with India media outlet Power Sportz.

“This was the first time Justin Gatlin was going to have me chasing after him (wearing favourite tag).  But, when I knew he was nervous was when I went into the warm-up area and he was talking to me.  That was strange, he never speaks to me.  So, it clicked to me that he was nervous as well because this was the first time we were ever going to compete and he was favourite.”

In the end, Bolt only just came past a faltering Gatlin at the death to snatch victory by one-hundredth of a second.  Well short of his best, but good enough for gold.

“I happy but you couldn’t see it on my face because it was so much pressure that came off me.  I just thought, thank you.  For me, that was one of the hardest races I’ve run in my life.”

 

Usain Bolt shocked the world in 2009 when he raced to a world-record 9.58s to win the 100m at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany.

Last week I looked at the trends linking timespans between the great eras of Jamaican male sprinting.

Meanwhile, the island’s women were more consistent but, alas, to the Jamaican public, sprinting success only seems to matter when the men do well.

When Jamaica’s men have struggled to win medals, their women – Merlene Ottey, Juliet Cuthbert, Sandie Richards, Merlene Fraser, Juliet Campbell, Beverley McDonald, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson, Kerron Stewart, Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, kept the country’s flag flying by winning medals.

However, these days I worry about what I believe is happening with a lot of Jamaica’s emerging male and female sprinters who seem unable to navigate the gap between their amateur status and the professional ranks.

There are several reasons why I believe this is happening, injury being one of the major factors, but today I will focus on what I believe to be another.

It was the 18thcentury American political activist Thomas Paine who said:

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble that can gather strength from distress and grow.”

It is a lesson many Jamaican youngsters would do well to learn.

After Usain Bolt blew up in 2008 with three gold medals and three world records in Beijing, many aspiring young athletes were inspired to be like him. They were coming out of the woodwork by the dozens. High-school track and field coaches experienced a boon in talent as they had never experienced before.

Along with the emergence of new talent came global sponsors seeking to snap up the next star early and cheaply.

After all, Bolt was signed early and cheaply by his sponsors who benefitted greatly as he rocketed to stardom. This came on the heels of a period of uncertainty when it seemed as if he was going to be yet another casualty of a system that many argue asks too much too soon of our high-school athletes.

However, when Bolt and company stunned the Commonwealth in 2006 in Melbourne and then the world two years later, there seemed to be a mad rush on to sign any child in the Jamaican high school system that displayed a modicum of talent.

Kids were signing contracts left, right and centre and 12 years later, it is almost embarrassing to see how few have successfully transitioned to the senior ranks.

Mind you, there are good and bad sides to what was happening.

On the good side, a few Jamaican kids from humble backgrounds were able to secure small contracts that allowed them to ‘eat’ and maintain a fairly decent lifestyle as they prepared to launch into professional track and field.

When you have nothing and someone offers you something more, it is easy to lose perspective. A few kids and their families were able to secure homes, a nice car, and a little money in the bank.

However, in too many instances all this seemed to do was take away the hunger that is oftentimes necessary to keep athletes focused on what the real goal is. Yes, a few thousand US dollars can make life better but imagine what could be, if you actually won something or became the best in the world.

Alas, for too many kids, the morsel seemed to be enough.

I remember attending the signing ceremony of a particular youngster who had promised so much during his years in high school. I believe the value of the contract was somewhere in the six figures, a life-changing amount of money for someone who before had relatively very little.

I was truly happy for the youngster. However, months later all I saw from the athlete was the purchase of a shiny new car and a frequency on the club circuit in New Kingston. Meanwhile, performances on the track progressively got worse.

Unfortunately, this has become the norm for too many.

Putting the carrot before the horse can be a good thing. However, giving the horse the carrot before the journey has even begun can have disastrous consequences.

As Paine suggests, working hard and making sacrifices tend to make any reward a lot more meaningful. You are less likely to take that reward for granted. However, when fortune literally falls into your lap when you have accomplished nothing, it can make you feel a bit entitled.

I think Michael Frater, the 2005 World 100m silver medallist, a man who has run the 100m dash in 9.88 seconds, was onto something when he spoke to the media recently about why some of Jamaica’s youngsters are failing to make the grade.

“They feel like it's a sense of entitlement where they feel they are just going out there and other athletes are going to roll over and let them win, and that's not the case,” Frater said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

“They weren't hungry enough to go out there and get it. You have to go out and fight for what you want.”

It is hard to fight for what you want when things come too easy. Too many of these kids now believe all they have to do is run fast in high school and things will come easy after. That only happens for a few.

People see Bolt and his success, the flashy cars and the lavish lifestyle and forget how he got there. It took four years of blood, sweat and tears, disappointment and getting his butt handed to him on the track before he finally realised what was required to be the best in the world.

The lesson seems to have fallen onto deaf ears.

Many would do well to learn that lesson… or to borrow a Jamaican phrase, “If yuh waah good, yuh nose haffi run.”

 

 

Between 1948 and 1952, Jamaica had, at its disposal, four world-class athletes, who between them had two Olympic gold and three silver medals.

Back then, Jamaica’s population was just about 1.4 million and most of its athletes were trained overseas in the US collegiate system. In fact, all Jamaica’s medallists honed their talents in the US collegiate system, Canada and the United Kingdom.

After Wint, McKenley, Rhoden and Laing had moved on, it would be 22 years before Jamaica won another Olympic medal when Lennox Miller claimed silver in the 100m in Mexico in 1968.

Eight years later, Donald Quarrie won Jamaica’s first gold medal since 1952, 24 years since the country’s incredible 4x400m relay win in Helsinki.

It would be another 20 years before Jamaica won another gold medal.

This time, however, it came from a woman; Deon Hemmings broke the drought with an Olympic record win in the 400m hurdles in Atlanta in 1996.

In between, Merlene Ottey, Juliet Cuthbert and Grace Jackson won individual medals for Jamaica and were the redeeming features at the Olympics for Jamaica’s track and field programme.

During this bygone era, Jamaica produced an abundance of other talented male sprinters like Raymond Stewart (the first Jamaican to break the 10-second barrier), Leroy Reid, Michael Green, Gregory Meghoo, Colin Bradford and Percival Spencer, just to name a few, who for one reason or another, did not live up to national expectation.

It would be 32 years after Quarrie sprinted to 200m glory in Montreal that a youngster called Usain Bolt would drag Jamaica’s men to the forefront with gold medals in the 100m and 200m. He then capped it off with another gold medal in the 4x100m relay. The IOC stripped Jamaica of that medal because of a test failed retroactively by Nesta Carter.

Bolt would dominate with six more gold medals over the next two Olympiads – London and Rio – before retiring in 2017.

During that time, only one other Jamaican male – the supremely talented Omar McLeod - has won an individual Olympic gold medal. During that time, Yohan Blake (two silver medals) and Warren Weir (a bronze medal) were the only other individual Olympic medallists.

That is four men, one more than the number that won individual medals between 1948 and 1952, despite the fact that the population has doubled since then.

One other fact, one that I find quite incredible is that between 2004 and 2016, Jamaica produced five of the fastest men in history – Usain Bolt (9.58/19.19), Yohan Blake (9.69/19.26), Nesta Carter (9.78), Steve Mullings (9.80) and Michael Frater (9.88). That is unprecedented in a country that now has a population of about 2.8 million.

Since 2016, Jamaica’s men have struggled in the sprints. Bolt, Frater and Mullings have moved on and Blake, Carter and Powell are nearing the end of their respective careers.

Based on the trends it could be some time before we see that kind of talent on display again because what people are failing to embrace and accept is that what happened in Jamaica since 2004 was extraordinary.

The emergence of talent was incredible, especially when one considers what also happened on the female side with the likes of Veronica Campbell Brown, Sherone Simpson, Kerron Stewart, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Melaine Walker, Brigette Foster-Hylton and Deloreen Ennis-London.

It was truly a golden era that gave the country much to be proud of. However, the other side of that same coin is that those coming up are under so much pressure to live up to this extraordinary era.

Suddenly, nothing short of gold is good enough and that dynamic is not helped by the fact that Bolt himself has put the next wave under much pressure.

“When I was around I think the motivation was there and we worked hard and the level was high, but now that I have left the sport, I feel like it has dropped,” Bolt told Reuters in 2019.

Frater, who surprised all when he won silver in the 100m at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, recently expressed similar thoughts.

“Most of the athletes, they feel like it's a sense of entitlement where they feel they are just going out there and other athletes are going to roll over and let them win, and that's not the case,” Frater said in a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer.

“They weren't hungry enough to go out there and get it. You have to go out and fight for what you want.”

However, while there might be some merit to what Bolt and Frater believe, there could be another reason why many of Jamaica’s athletes are not stepping up in a timely manner to fill the gaping hole left behind by Bolt and company.

I will explore this particular issue in more detail next week.

 

Usain Bolt donated J$500,000 (approximately USD$3500) to the Jamaica-Together-We-Stand telethon that raised funds to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

Oops, Britney Spears has done it again.

Sport may have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, but a new 100 metres standard has been set - according to a popstar with knowledge of records.

With the United States observing social distancing due to COVID-19, Britney has seemingly been using her loneliness to improve her 100m time and now has an outrageous claim.

The world record has stood at 9.58 seconds since Usain Bolt's Berlin dash in 2009, while Florence Griffith-Joyner still boasts the women's benchmark, her 10.49-second run unsurpassed since 1988.

But Britney, who says her times have steadily been getting stronger, believes she has beaten both - and by a considerable margin, too.

She posted a screenshot of a timer stopped on 5.97 seconds to her Instagram page, explaining her feat.

"Ran my first 5!!!! Getting over your fear of pushing it in the beginning is key," she wrote. "Once I did that, I hit 5!!!!!

"Usually I run 6 or 7. My first try was 9. And now I did it, whoop!!!!! 100-metre dash!!!!!"

Perhaps her supposed achievement will tempt Jamaican great Bolt out of retirement to post just one more time.

Glen Mills, former coach of retired sprint king Usain Bolt, would advise the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to push the Tokyo Olympic Games to next year.

So far, the IOC has resisted calls from several high-profile athletes, coaches, and even athletics associations, to postpone the games in light of the current coronavirus pandemic.  In the latest twist, the IOC has flatly rejected the idea of cancellation but is expected to take a decision on whether to postpone the Games, set to start on July 24.

Mills, however, admits that he cannot see the event being staged before next year, following the already massive disruptions to the schedule.

"I can’t see the Olympics going ahead; taking persons from all over the world and bringing them to one central point,” Mills said in a recent interview with Reuters.

"My recommendation would be to postpone the Olympics until next year,” he said.

“This would be unprecedented, but we are in unprecedented time. Move everything up one year and then everything will eventually fall back in place,” he added.

"But I don’t think that the Olympics will take place at the time that is specified (July and August) because the outbreak is worldwide and, in some countries,, it is just starting to accelerate.”

The Olympics has only been canceled on three occasions 1916, 1940 and 1944 in all those cases the scrapping of the Games was due to World wars I and II.

Jamaica sprint queen, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, believes compatriot Usain Bolt may have stepped away from the sport of track and field too early.

Bolt and Fraser-Pryce were the biggest stars in a decade of sprint dominance for Jamaica.  Between them, the duo racked up 20 World Championship gold medals and 10 Olympic gold medals.  However, while the evergreen Fraser-Pryce continues to dazzle the world with her prowess on the track, Bolt hung up his spikes in 2017.

At the age of 33, Fraser-Pryce created history by becoming the first athlete to claim four 100m World Championship titles, in an event not known for its longevity and consistency.  Bolt has three and Fraser-Pryce who took two years off after having her first child before returning to the top of sprinting, believes it could have been more.

“I don’t think it was ok for him to quit just yet.  I think he had more time in him, but I think he was a little tired and doesn’t like the training that much,” Fraser-Pryce said in a recent interview.

“I definitely think he misses it because he can see what I’m doing.  He messages me all the time and says it’s amazing to see what you are doing and I tell him you could still have been doing what I have been doing.”

Retired Jamaica sprint legend Usain Bolt admits to missing the sport of athletics and once mulled the idea of coming out of retirement but was convinced he had made the right decision by his former coach Glen Mills.

Bolt, considered in many arenas as the greatest sprinter of all time, amassed stellar achievements in a career that lasted well over a decade.  In addition to holding the world record over both the 100m and 200m sprints, the Jamaican claimed 8 Olympic gold and 11 World Championship medals.

His soaring career might, however, be said to have ended on somewhat of a low after finishing third at the 2017 World Championships and failing to finish in the 4x100m relay. 

 "I talked to my track coach," Bolt told CNN Sport's Coy Wire. "And he was like, 'No, you're not doing it. People that retire and come back -- it doesn't always work out.'

The sprinter, who suffers from scoliosis of the spine, was quick to admit that he also did not miss the grueling training needed to compete at the highest level.

"For me, at the end I knew it was time because the drive wasn't there. But every time I watch track and field I miss it. And every time I go to the track to see my coach and I watch him training I go, 'Did I make the right decision?' ... But every time I train with them I think, 'Ah yeah I made the right decision. I don't miss this.'"

Former sprinter and Jamaica’s most decorated male sprinter of all time, Usain Bolt, has added his take on whether Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl-winning wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, can make the U.S. Olympic team as a sprinter.

 Reigning world record holder and soon to be dad Usain Bolt insists he would not encourage his children to follow in his footsteps.

The Jamaican sprint king, who retired from the sport in 2016, is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time.  News of the track star about to father a child perhaps for many conjured images of someday having the next generation of the Bolt family continuing his rich legacy.  Not, however, if the sprinter can help it.

“I’m going to say no, initially.  If they do, I will support it,” Bolt said in an interview with The Times.

“I think the pressure is going to be too much, especially at the level I left it. It’s going to be tough to follow,” he added.

Matching the feats of Bolt would indeed take some doing.  The athlete dominated the sport of track and field for over a decade, winning 8 Olympic gold medals and 11 World Championships.

“You have to wait until they get to a certain age to explain to them that people are going to expect a lot from you, because of what I’ve done in the past.  I’ll wait until the time is right to explain.”

Sporting stars from across the globe, including Tom Brady and Neymar, have paid tribute to Kobe Bryant after the Los Angeles Lakers icon was killed in a helicopter crash.

Bryant, 41, died on Sunday in a crash close to the city of Calabasas in Los Angeles County, California.

Eight others on board, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, also lost their lives.

Following the initial reports of Bryant's passing, athletes and teams from across the world of sport posted their tributes to the Lakers great on social media.

New England Patriots great Brady wrote on his Twitter page: "We miss you already, Kobe."

Patrick Mahomes, another superstar NFL quarterback, said: "Man, not Kobe. Prayers to his family and friends!"

Bryant was an Olympic champion like Usain Bolt, the great sprinter, who posted a picture of the former NBA star on his page.

"Still can't believe ⁦[it] @kobebryant," he said.

World number one golfer Brooks Koepka posted a lengthy message in memory of his "hero".

"Kobe Bryant was my HERO growing up. Even to this day he was an inspiration to the way I approached things," he wrote, adding: "His mentality motivated me not only in hard times but throughout my whole life. RIP, Kobe."

Footballer Raheem Sterling said: "Rest easy, legend."

Meanwhile, Neymar, who scored twice in Paris Saint-Germain's win over Lille on Sunday, dedicated his second goal to the Lakers legend.

Drew Brees spoke to ESPN from the Pro Bowl, saying of Bryant: "I had the chance to meet him one time. He was a guy I hoped to have the chance to be around more.

"I had so much respect for him as a competitor. I know he inspired so many people in so many different ways.

"He was one of the great competitors of any generation - not just with sports but the way he approached a lot of things with what he was doing now after basketball.

"I pray for him, I pray for his family. It's a tragic loss."

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.