Much has been discussed here and elsewhere about pending action at the XV IAAF (International Association of Athletic Federations) World Championships in Athletics. Track and field is, by far, Jamaica’s most successful sport. Its biennial showpiece happens in the Chinese city of Beijing, competition lasting from August 22 to 30. It marks a highly anticipated revisit to the Bird’s Nest Stadium, where Jamaica’s sprinters staged a major coup at the Olympics in 2008. In six events, including the sprint relays, five gold medals went to the land of Bob Marley and the Reggae Boyz. That a season-long, high-riding, twice-convicted drug cheat, Justin Gatlin, is part of the USA’s spoil-the-island party only enhances the hype. One expects, following a telling London Diamond League experience, the big man himself, Usain Bolt, will make it a spectacle that only dreams can envisage. That excitement aside, there will be boardroom decisions to ponder. From them will surface a separate brand of doubts, drama, and disappointments. Come August 18-20, the hosts, the IAAF, will be holding their 50th congress. Being an even-numbered staging, elections for official positions in the hierarchy will be held. It is a contradiction of sorts that Jamaica does not have a single post in the structure of the existing world governing body. Such a distinction could be considered almost automatic, given the nation’s international high profile in the sport. In a determined attempt to correct that, four individuals have been sent forward to ‘face the music’. Dr Warren Blake, not without negative murmurs behind the curtains, holds the top spot in the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA). A seasoned politician, he will contest for a place on the IAAF council. The association’s general secretary, Garth Gayle, rumoured to be looking at Blake’s chair in next year’s local polls, will vie for technical committee membership. The quartet of hopefuls is completed by JAAA’s third vice-president, 1996 Atlanta Olympics 400 metres hurdles gold medallist, Deon Hemmings-McCatty, and road racing organiser, Alan Beckford. Respectively, they will be hunting women’s and cross-country committee status. Beckford, who is not on the executive of the association, was co-opted for the exercise. Foster’s Fairplay quizzed the straight talker, who co-founded and is currently chief organiser for the Jamaica College-hosted Hugo Chambers 10K. There was anxiety as to his thoughts about being sent to the polls, while not an elected member of the JAAA executive. “Having been involved in road racing for more than 30 years, and cross country as well, I think the executive of the JAAA would have seen my qualities and, knowing that I was integrally involved in many a way, with the growth of distance running in Jamaica … hence, this is the reason they selected me,” he said. The die is cast, for better or for worse. The country awaits the outcome.
SOUTHAMPTON (3-4-1-2)STEKELENBURG, SOARES, FONTE, VAN DIJK, TARGETT,WANYAMA, S DAVIS,WARD-PROWSE, TADIC, RODRIGUEZ, PELLEMAN UNITED (4-2-3-1)ROONEY, MATA, HERRERA, MEMPHIS,CARRICK, SCHNEIDERLIN,ROJO, SMALLING, DARMIAN, DE GEAManchester United suffered on two counts on Tuesday night. Not only did they lose 2-1 against Dutch club PSV Eindhoven in their first Champions League group game, but England left back Luke Shaw suffered a double fracture of his leg and may miss the rest of the Barclays Premier League campaign.Wayne Rooney, still without a Premier League goal since April – and 14 hours and 34 minutes – missed the game in Holland with a hamstring injury and undergoes a test ahead of the trip to the south coast.The defeat against PSV came after an impressive 3-1 win over Liverpool in which Anthony Martial, the PS36 million teenager signed from French club Monaco, came on to score a hugely impressive goal on his debut.Martial got his first United start against PSV and, if Rooney’s is unavailable, he could continue in attack for United.Southampton arrive with an improved defensive record. After conceding five goals in their first two games, they have kept three straight clean sheets and gone a total of 276 minutes since they last conceded.The arrival of Celtic central defender Virgil van Dijk, for PS11.5 million, has helped the Saints’ rear-guard, but they are still without left-back Ryan Bertrand and centre half Florin Gardos.