Manch­ester Utd, Southamp­ton in League Cup semis

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

NOW THAT Us­ain Bolt’s in­com­pa­ra­ble ca­reer is ap­proach­ing its fi­nal chap­ter, the ques­tion Jamaican sports fans are ask­ing most fre­quently is who will re­place him?

The an­swer is most likely that no one will pre­cisely repli­cate the tall man’s com­bi­na­tion of ath­letic abil­ity and Brand Jamaican charm. There is, af­ter all, only one Us­ain Bolt.

From a global point of view, Canada’s An­dre De Grasse seems to be the next great sprinter. He has sped from ob­scu­rity to sparkle on the US col­lege cir­cuit with a big NCAA 2015 sprint dou­ble and 100me­tre bronze medals at the World Cham­pi­onships last year and the re­cently con­cluded Olympics. He was a re­spect­ful sec­ond to Bolt over 200 me­tres at the Olympics.

Three years ago, he lost to 2012 World Ju­nior 100 me­tre bronze medal­list Odean Skeen in the US Ju­nior Col­lege cham­pi­onship. Now the slim Cana­dian is the heir ap­par­ent.

BLAKE COULD BE NEXT

From a Jamaican per­spec­tive, a fully fit and sharp Yohan Blake would wear the man­tle com­fort­ably. Were he to re­gain top speed, his per­sonal bests of 9.75 and 19.26 sec­onds for 100 and 200 me­tres re­spec­tively would place the 26 year-old Blake in pole po­si­tion. He has al­ready made progress af­ter re­peated in­juries in 2013 and 2014.

Ke­mar Bai­ley-Cole, the 2014 Com­mon­wealth cham­pion, has had his share for in­juries. Good health and bet­ter starts are needed for him to take up the man­tle. Canada’s An­dre De Grasse (left) and Ja­maica’s Us­ain Bolt.

Skeen and Olympic 4x100 gold medal win­ner Je­vaughn Minzie could both be in the mix in the next few years.

Three-time World fi­nal­ist Nickel Ash­meade, Com­mon­wealth cham­pion Rasheed Dwyer, a fit-again Ja­son Young, 2012 Olympic bronze medal­list War­ren Weir, all 19.8 men; and the un­lucky Ju­lian Forte will keep Ja­maica in the thick of things at 200 me­tres. Forte is just 23. All of them could have more to give.

Senoj-Jay Gi­vans, who broke 10 sec­onds in the 100 in 2016, might be in the mix too.

Fur­ther down the line are new pro­fes­sional Nigel El­lis, Ra­heem Cham­bers, re­cently de­parted from St Jago to Auburn Uni­ver­sity, Jhe­vaughn Mather­son of Kingston Col­lege, and three Cal­abar High School speed mer­chants who have dom­i­nated at Boys and Girls’ Cham­pi­onships in the last few

years. El­lis did the dou­ble for St El­iz­a­beth Tech­ni­cal at Champs this year and sprinted to third in the 200 at the World Un­der-20 Cham­pi­onships. World Un­der-20 100 fi­nal­ist Cham­bers, and the gifted Mather­son were sec­ond and third to El­lis in the 100 at Champs.

The fast Cal­abar boys – De­jour Rus­sell, Tyreke Wil­son, who ran 21.72 sec­onds for 200 me­tres into a 2.7 me­tre per sec­ond head­wind at Champs in 2014, and Michael Stephens all have eye-pop­ping po­ten­tial.

The ques­tion – who will re­place Bolt? – comes be­cause the tall man from Trelawny has led Ja­maica through a golden era. The medal count in the last three Olympics has stood at 11 with six gold in 2008, 12 with four gold in 2012 and 11 with five gold this year. Ja­maica’s medal haul at the 2009 Worlds was 13 with seven gold, with Yohan Blake

last year’s team win­ning 12 over­all with seven gold.

Be­fore the golden era, the high­est Olympic medal take by Ja­maica was nine, at the 2000 Games.

Bolt has been im­mense with six con­sec­u­tive sprint dou­bles at the Olympics and seven in­di­vid­ual gold medals at the World Cham­pi­onship. Throw in world record sprint dou­bles at the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 Worlds and the ques­tion takes on an un­rea­son­able tone.

If what is re­ally re­quired is some­one to dom­i­nate the way Bolt has, then it may be too much to ask. As shown above, Ja­maica at present has sev­eral world-class male sprint­ers with more to come. There is, how­ever, no one quite like Bolt.

I Manch­ester United’s An­thony Mar­tial (right) cel­e­brates with team­mate Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic af­ter scor­ing his side’s sec­ond goal dur­ing the English League Cup quar­ter­fi­nal against West Ham at Old Traf­ford in Manch­ester, Eng­land yes­ter­day. MANCH­ESTER, Eng­land (AP): HEN­RIKH MKHI­TARYAN’S vi­sion and An­thony Mar­tial’s cool fin­ish­ing helped Manch­ester United into the English League Cup semi­fi­nals as two of the team’s outof-favour for­wards showed their worth yes­ter­day.

United’s 4-1 win over West Ham at Old Traf­ford was il­lu­mi­nated by Mkhi­taryan’s touch and eye for a pass in only his third start for the club since his high-pro­file move from Borus­sia Dort­mund in the off­sea­son.

The Ar­me­nia cap­tain set up goals scored early in each half – by Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic and Mar­tial – be­fore get­ting a stand­ing ova­tion from United fans when sub­sti­tuted in the fi­nal min­utes. By then, Ibrahi­movic and Mar­tial had each grabbed their sec­ond goals of a com­fort­able win that set up a semi-fi­nal match against Hull.

United man­ager Jose Mour­inho has been hold­ing back Mkhi­taryan while he adapts to the English game. On this ev­i­dence, it’s time for the last sea­son’s Bundesliga Player of the Year to be un­leashed on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

“We were wait­ing for his adap­ta­tion,” Mour­inho said, “and it looks like it’s com­ing.”

In the other quar­ter-fi­nal match on Wed­nes­day, Southamp­ton beat a largely sec­ond-string Ar­se­nal team 2-0 thanks to first-half goals by Jordy Clasie and Ryan Ber­trand at Emirates Sta­dium. Southamp­ton ad­vanced to the semi-fi­nals of Eng­land’s sec­ond-tier cup com­pe­ti­tion for the first time since the 1986-87 sea­son, and will now face Liver­pool.

AP

HART

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