LONDON (AP):Alexis Sanchez’s superb first-half double helped give Arsenal a 3-0 win over Manchester United yesterday in a dominant display that propelled the London club into second place in the Premier League.Arsenal decided the game in the opening 20 minutes after a furious start at the Emirates. Sanchez’s sublime backheel-flick at the near post opened the scoring in the sixth minute, and Mesut Ozil doubled the lead a minute later when he coolly curled the ball home after being set up by Theo Walcott.Sanchez’s second was a fierce shot from the edge of the area in the 20th after a quick Arsenal passing move. It was Sanchez’s fifth goal in two league matches after his hat-trick against Leicester last week.”That 25-minute period, no one could have dealt with us,” said striker Theo Walcott, who set up Ozil’s goal and was a constant threat with his pace up front. “That sends a message to the Premier League that we’re here to be reckoned with.”GUNNERS IN SECONDPLACEThe Gunners leapfrogged United into second place with 16 points, two behind leading Manchester City. United are just behind Arsenal on goal difference.United entered the weekend as the league leaders but couldn’t cope with Arsenal’s quick passing and high tempo as the Gunners looked like a completely different team to the one that lost 3-2 to Olympiakos at home in the Champions League in midweek.”We were good because we decided to start strong, to press high,” Arsenal manager ArsÈne Wenger said. “When we do that, we can score goals. We know that.”All three goals came after well-worked passing moves. For the first one, Ozil received a pass near the byline and cut the ball back to Sanchez, who, with his back to goal, flicked it inside the near post. Less than a minute later, Ozil set Walcott free on a run down the left. Walcott drew the attention of four defenders in the box before passing back to the unmarked Ozil, who curled in with his left foot.The third came after Aaron Ramsey combined with Walcott to feed Sanchez, who ran across the edge of the area and cut on to his right foot before firing into the far-right corner.”When you start a game like that, you can never win a game,” United manager Louis van Gaal said. “We lost every duel, every second ball. … And they can play. They’re a fantastic team!”Ramsey missed a chance to net a fourth before Petr Cech had to make his first real save just before half-time. Anthony Martial spun around Per Mertesacker inside the area and fired low, forcing Cech into a first-class save with his left foot.Van Gaal made a double substitution at half-time, bringing on Marouane Fellaini and Antonio Valencia for the ineffective Matteo Darmian, who struggled at right back against Sanchez’s pace, and Memphis Depay.”When you give a team such as Arsenal so much space to play, you know you will lose,” Van Gaal said.Van Gaal said United lacked aggression at the start and that he was “amazed and disappointed” at his team’s approach to the match in the first half.
KOLKATA, India (CMC): Carlos Brathwaite belted four astonishing sixes off the first four deliveries of the final over to catapult West Indies to an extraordinary four-wicket victory over England as the Caribbean made history by sweeping both the men’s and women’s titles at the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup here yesterday. With West Indies requiring a difficult 19 from the final over in pursuit of 156 for victory at Eden Gardens, the right-handed Brathwaite cleared the ropes four times in succession from seamer Ben Stokes to hand West Indies a spectacular victory with two balls to spare. Bravo, dropped on 11 by substitute Sam Billings off Stokes in the 13th over, recovered to belt leg-spinner Adil Rashid over midwicket for six in the next over before top-edging the final ball to Root at point at 86 for four. Samuels, on 50 at the time, then blasted a four and two successive sixes off seamer Liam Plunkett in an over that gushed 18 runs, but England struck back to claim two wickets for just 21 runs in the space of nine balls and leave the Windies tottering on 107 for six in the 16th over. Andre Russell picked out Stokes on the wide midwicket boundary off the first ball of the 16th over from Willey, before Sammy lofted the third delivery to deep cover, where Alex Hales held the catch. Brathwaite joined Samuels and the pair sensibly navigating the final overs before taking eight runs from the penultimate one bowled by seamer Chris Jordan before launching the last-over assault. – CMC SCOREBOARD ENGLAND J Roy b Badree 0 A Hales c Badree b Russell 1 J Root c Benn b Brathwaite 54 *E Morgan c Gayle b Badree 5 +J Buttler c Bravo b Brathwaite 36 B Stokes c Simmons b Bravo 13 M Ali c wkp Ramdin b Bravo 0 C Jordan not out 12 D Willey c Charles b Brathwaite 21 L Plunkett c Badree b Bravo 4 A Rashid not out 4 Extras (lb4, w1) 5 TOTAL (9 wkts, 20 overs) 155 Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Roy, 0.2 overs), 2-8 (Hales, 1.5), 3-23 (Morgan, 4.4), 4-84 (Buttler, 11.2), 5-110 (Stokes, 13.4), 6-110 (Ali, 14), 7-111 (Root, 14.1), 8-136 (Willey, 17.3), 9-142 (Plunkett, 18.3) Bowling: Badree 4-1-16-2, Russell 4-0-21-1, Benn 3-0-40-0, DJ Bravo 4-0-37-3, Brathwaite 4-0-23-3 (w1), Sammy 1-0-14-0. WEST INDIES J Charles c Stokes b Root 1 C Gayle c Stokes b Root 4 M Samuels not out 85 L Simmons lbw b Willey 0 DJ Bravo c Root b Rashid 25 A Russell c Stokes b Willey 1 *D Sammy c Hales b Willey 2 C Brathwaite not out 34 Extras (lb3, w6) 9 TOTAL (6 wkts, 19.4 overs) 161 Did not bat: +D Ramdin, S Badree, S Benn Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Charles, 1.1 overs), 2-5 (Gayle, 1.3), 3-11 (Simmons, 2.3), 4-86 (Bravo, 14), 5-104 (Russell, 15.1), 6-107 (Sammy, 15.3) Bowling: Willey 4-0-20-3 (w2), Root 1-0-9-2, Jordan 4-0-36-0 (w1), Plunkett 4-0-29-0 (w1), Rashid 4-0-23-1, Stokes 2.4-0-41-0 (w2). Result: West Indies won by four wickets. Series: West Indies win Twenty20 World Cup. Man-of-the-Match: Marlon Samuels. Man-of-the-Series: Virat Kohli. Toss: West Indies. Umpires: K Dharmasena, R Tucker; TV M Erasmus “I want to thank the Almighty because without Him nothing is possible. We have a pastor in the team in Andre Fletcher. He keeps on praying. We are a praying team. I’m really happy for this win and it’s something we are going to cherish for a long time,” an emotional captain Darren Sammy said afterwards. “I’ve said before the tournament we have 15 match-winners. Nobody gave us a chance, but every game somebody stepped up and took responsibility. To see Carlos play like that in his debut World Cup, it’s just tremendous. “It shows the depth we have in the Caribbean in T20 cricket and, hopefully, with the right structure and development, our cricket will continue to improve in one-day and Test cricket.” No such success seemed on the cards when Charles holed out to Stokes, running in from deep mid-on with one run on the board, and Gayle picked out the same fielder at long-off two balls later to leave England on top. Simmons shuffled across to left-armer David Willey and was lbw off the first ball of the next over, as West Indies’ chances of victory seemed to dim. But Samuels and Bravo came together to steady the innings in a stand that was more pragmatic than flamboyant and which guided West Indies to 54 without further loss at the halfway point of the innings. Brathwaite finished on 34 not out from just 10 deliveries, but it was veteran right-hander Marlon Samuels who stroked an unbeaten 85 from 66 balls, who was the architect of the victory. The languid Jamaican, adjudged Man of the Match, smashed nine fours and two sixes, anchoring two crucial stands, first with Dwayne Bravo (24) and then with Brathwaite, to pull West Indies around from 11 for three in the third over. They lost both openers, Johnson Charles (1) and Chris Gayle (4), in the second over to off-spinner Joe Root, and when semi-final hero Lendl Simmons fell to a first ball ‘duck’ in the following over, the Windies were up against the ropes. But Samuels posted 75 for the fourth wicket with Bravo, who struck a four and a six off 27 deliveries and then 54 for the seventh wicket with the outstanding Brathwaite, who counted a four and four sixes. Earlier, Brathwaite and Bravo had also starred with the ball, taking three wickets apiece as England were restricted to 155 for nine off their 20 overs, after they were sent in. Joe Root top-scored with 54 and Jos Buttler got 36, but Brathwaite (3-23) and Bravo (3-37), along with leg-spinner Samuel Badree (2-16), grabbed wickets at key points to cripple the England innings. The victory ensured a sweep of both T20 World Cup titles after West Indies Women upset three-time defending champions Australia by eight wickets at the same venue earlier. With the triumph, the men’s side became the first nation to win the T20 World Cup twice, following on from their success in Sri Lanka four years ago. RECOVERED CHERISH FOR LONG TIME ARCHITECT OF THE VICTORY
Two hard-hitting Jamaican boxers, Ramel ‘Sub Zero’ Lewis and Michael Gardener, will clash tonight in the first quarter-final bout of the Wray and Nephew 2016 Contender series at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium. The tournament that started on March 10 with 16 boxers, has now been whittled down to eight and the winners in this segment will all be guaranteed one of the top financial prizes. These are $2 million to the champion, $500,000 to the runner-up, $250,000 for third place and $200,000 for fourth. Lewis is a veteran of the Contender series and reached the finals as a welterweight in 2012, where he lost to Donovan ‘Police’ Campbell. In his first appearance this year against Fard Muhammad, he showed touches of brilliance, but also the ill effects of a nearly two-year absence from the ring. He won that fight by technical knockout, when Muhammad, a veteran in Mixed Martial Arts, made his debut as a professional boxer. He caught Muhammad with some good punches, but took some himself and was wild at times. He has to improve a lot tonight if he is to win. He acknowledged his weaknesses after that fight and vowed to do better next time around. That next time is tonight and he will be going up against a formidable opponent. In his first fight in the competition, Gardener, who was making his professional debut, was composed going up against American Jose Guzman and his punishing body attacks allowed him to win by knockout in the second round. He is very confident for tonight’s fight and has promised more of what he produced against Guzman. Punching power and stamina will undoubtedly be the two main ingredients tonight and it is obvious that both men are coming into the fight in an attacking mode. It will only be over five rounds, but that will be plenty of time for both men to put their boxing skills and punching power on display. Spectators should therefore have a lot to cheer about, for as long as the fight lasts. The programme starts at 8:30 p.m. and the main bout, which will be broadcast live on TVJ, is scheduled for 9:30.
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil It had been 16 long years since Jamaica won an Olympic medal in the men’s 4×400 metres; way too long for a country that announced its prowess to the world with gold at the 1948 Games. That wait came to a sweet end inside the Olympic stadium last night as the team of Peter Matthews, Nathon Allen, Fitzroy Dunkley and Javon Francis clocked 2:58.16 to win silver behind the USA, 2:57.30, and ahead of The Bahamas, 2:58.49, for the country’s fifth overall medal in the event. For Francis, who got some stick last year after he was overtaken on the anchor leg at the World Championships in Beijing as the country missed out on the podium, this was a shot at redemption and an opportunity to achieve a dream of his – a space in Jamaica’s 4x400m history. FOURTH POSITION Francis received the baton in fourth position, but split 43.78 seconds – the third-fastest on anchor, to overtake The Bahamas’ Chris Brown and Botswana’s Leaname Maotoanong to lift the Jamaicans to their third Olympic silver medal in the event. “I feel very excited! It’s my first Olympics and I am going home with a medal,” said Francis, who also noted that he was inspired by Usain Bolt to ensure he helped the team to a podium spot. “I saw Usain Bolt with his medal tonight and I said I wanted a medal to go back home with as well.” It wasn’t his only motivation. “A lot of persons doubted me and said I could not do it after the World Championships last year. That was a downfall for me, but I rebounded from that struggle. I learned from that, changed up my race strategy,” said Francis. “This is very important. I always said I wanted to be a part of history with Herb McKenley and those guys, so this was really important for me.” Another youngster, Nathon Allen, who finished third at trials, but only ran the qualifying time after the cut-off point, said he always knew God had bigger plans for him. “God has big plans for me, so sometimes in life when you don’t get the initial goal, you have to lift yourself up and move forward,” said Allen. “For me to get an Olympic medal at the first attempt shows me that I can achieve greatness. I will take this, but I won’t settle. I will strive for greater things to come,” added Allen, who ran 44.00 on his leg. Lead-off man Peter Matthews, who was clocked at 45.5, was elated with the win and also pointed to the country’s rich quarter-mile history, which he hopes this crop can continue to honour.
BREACH OF PROTOCOL On the face of it, Simmons did breach protocol when he revealed details of sensitive and confidential selection protocol, and it is reasonable to assume that those actions would compromise the trust between the coach and the board. All things considered, however, Simmons’ biggest sin for which he paid the ultimate professional price was basically to demand that his best players be made available for selection. That is, indeed, a noble and professional cause and a battle worth fighting. Simmons had no agenda or self-serving motives, but to get what he deemed the best players representing the West Indies. This current meltdown had its genesis in that now infamous ill-fated tour of India, and the subsequent showdown between the West Indies board and some of the “rogue players” entangled in that saga. There has been what seems a covert yet systematic weeding out of these ‘rogue players’ and Simmons with all his good intentions got caught in the crossfire when he began questioning the absence of who he thought were players, who were key to the team’s success. The board’s agenda of getting even obviously supersedes any noble or professional intent that Simmons might have had to rebuild West Indies cricket, in this scenario there could only be only one winner and that is the WICB. The sacrifice made by Simmons should not be ignored. It is up to the various stakeholders of the regional game to call a spade a spade, and do what is within our powers to salvage this great institution of West Indies cricket. The sacking of Phil Simmons as head coach of the regional cricket team is the dramatic climax of the latest episode of the now comedic drama once known as West Indies cricket. The disingenuous cliche posited as the reasons for Simmons dismissal points to differences in ‘culture and strategic approach’. Typical and predictable ‘hogwash’ meant to disguise the real reasons for Simmons’ departure. It is the best known secret that Phil Simmons was sacked because he spoke out of turn, and was not a willing ‘YES-MAN’ to the whims and fancies of the egotistical leadership of the West Indies Cricket Board. The team’s poor returns in Test cricket, having lost seven, drawn four, and boasting just one win in the 12 Test matches played since the burly Trinidadian took charge a year and half ago is also seen by some, as an indictment on the effectiveness of Simmons’ tenure. More disingenuous desperation, as the complexity of the myriad of problems crippling Test cricket in the region has rendered significant improvement impossible no matter, who the coach is, was, and will be in the future. UNFAIR CRITICISMS WICB president Dave Cameron and this current board have come under some unfair and overblown criticisms but the heat they are getting for the sacking of Simmons is fully justified. The intentions and actions of Simmons were targeting the betterment of West Indies cricket, his sacking was more about the preservation of status and the enhancement of individual egos. As the search begins for another “YES-MAN” to guide the West Indies team, we might be yet to see the full benefits of the short stint of Simmons. History might well capture his tenure as a short, but very important fight for a just cause. In the words of the American war General George S. Patton Jr. “It is better to fight for something than live for nothing.”
LONDON (AP):The English Premier League has sold its television rights in China for US$700 million in its biggest-ever overseas sale, a person familiar with the deal said on Thursday.Online video streaming service PPTV sealed a three-year deal to broadcast all 380 matches each season across China from 2019-20, the person told The Associated Press.The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the negotiations are confidential with PPTV, a media division of China’s Suning retail group which also owns Italian club Inter Milan.PPTV’s 2019-2022 deal is worth more than 10 times the current contract with Super Sports Media Group, which is paying around $20 million a season. PPTV also has the live rights for games from Spain’s La Liga in China.The bumper Premier League agreement is a sign of the anticipated enduring attraction of the world’s richest football competition just as there has been discussion in England about declining domestic ratings for games.The Premier League has just started a new TV rights cycle, generating around 8.3 billion pounds (US$10 billion) from broadcasters through 2019, with more than 5.1 billion pounds coming from English pay-tv networks.The rights through 2022 have already been sold in the United States to NBC, which signed a $1 billion, six-year deal. The windfall from PPTV eclipses NBC’s contract in the latest hefty investment in football by China.President Xi Jinping has made improving Chinese football a priority, from the grassroots to the international team. Chinese businessmen have responded to the president’s call by elevating the country’s influence in global football.Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa, and Wolverhampton Wanderers have received investment from China over the last year.In Italy, Inter’s rival, AC Milan, is also set to fall under Chinese ownership next month when Sino-Europe Sports completes its takeover from three-time former premier and billionaire businessman Silvio Berlusconi.China is also looking to host the World Cup for the first time after Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group signed up as a FIFA sponsor until 2030.
Still, his legal problems are far from over. Blatter faces a separate FIFA ethics investigation into suspected bribery linked to multi-million-dollar bonuses in top executives’ contracts. Swiss prosecutors also opened criminal proceedings against Blatter for the Platini payment, and a sale of World Cup television rights. He is also a stated target of American federal prosecutors in their sprawling investigation of corruption linked to international football officials, and an expected witness in a separate Swiss probe of German organisers of the 2006 World Cup. Blatter denies any wrongdoing. The three-member CAS panel was judging whether Blatter was guilty of unethically offering a cash gift and conflict of interest with Platini, who was a FIFA vice president in 2011. Blatter and Platini both said the US$2 million was uncontracted salary based on a verbal agreement more than a decade earlier. From 1999 to 2002, the former France great was the newly elected Blatter’s presidential adviser. “The payment amounted to an undue gift, as it had no contractual basis,” CAS said in a statement. Blatter said yesterday’s ruling was “incomprehensible” that his version was not accepted “in spite of my testimony to the contrary and the testimony given by other witnesses”. However, that explanation of a salary deal has now been doubted by three sets of judges at FIFA and CAS. The FIFA ethics committee investigated after the payment emerged in September 2015 during the wider Swiss federal probe of FIFA. GENEVA (AP): Sepp Blatter lost his appeal against a six-year ban by FIFA yesterday, and now has more serious legal cases lined up against him. Blatter said in a statement it was “difficult” to accept the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) verdict, but that “the way the case progressed, no other verdict could be expected”. The former FIFA president, who was banned for approving a US$2 million payment to Michel Platini in 2011, said he will accept the decision. He could have pursued a further appeal at Switzerland’s supreme court. “I have experienced much in my 41 years in FIFA. I mostly learned that you can win in sport, but you can also lose,” Blatter said. “Nevertheless I look back with gratitude to all the years, in which I was able to realise my ideals for football and serve FIFA.” The verdict ends Blatter’s hopes of becoming honorary president of the football body he left in disgrace in February. He must also pay FIFA a fine of 50,000 Swiss francs (US$49,500). SEPARATE PROBE
Table tennis will have a very busy first six months in 2017, which includes the World Championships, and Hyatt wants to ensure they build on the foundation that Lothian’s administration has established. “I look at where my experience could play the biggest factor on or off the table, and my opinion was to step aside now and put more emphasis on helping to get the teams to championships. “We have some compelling events coming up in the next four months, including the world championships and the association even though they are trying very hard and have very good plans the financial climate for all sports is very difficult.. “We qualify the team for division three, and we can’t go because we didn’t have funding. We will be back in division four, so everything we did in Malaysia would count for nothing, so I felt the best of my time was to be as a facilitator for the teams and help the association with funding, not just for this year, but ongoing,” he said. Hyatt has won all national youth titles. He contested eight national finals and won four. He was Caribbean champion in 1996, the same year he and Stephen Hylton took Jamaica to their highest ever world ranking at number 35 playing in division two in 1995 in China. He was also national US collegiate champion in 1991 and played in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics Games. – L.S. Outstanding Jamaican table tennis player, Michael Hyatt, announced his retirement yesterday at a press conference at the Jamaica Table Tennis Association after 31 years in the sport. The former national and regional champion, however, swore to continue his allegiance with the Jamaica Table Tennis Association to assist with the development of the sport as a marketing agent for the Godfrey Lothian administration. Hyatt, who has won all available national youth titles and was four-time senior national champion, told the gathering that being the number-one player for the country at the age of 46 is a burden and he believes his experience will be more useful elsewhere. “It is unusual in any sport for any athlete to play well into their forties. I was very fortunate to play until I was 45, at a high level. But I didn’t stop playing because I wasn’t good enough, but I felt I had other things in the corporate world I wanted to focus on more, and family. “Life changes, and you have different motivations, and if I don’t feel like I can be in my tip-top game in terms of my motivation to give the results Jamaica deserve, then I am not going to do it,” he told The Gleaner. “I felt the time was right. There are some players behind me that just need experience and exposure, and they are definitely capable; they just need help … and the exposure and the opportunity.” BUSY YEAR
SET TO IMPROVE The well-supported 11-race programme offers no carryovers from last Saturday as provision was made by outgoing promoters, Caymanas Track Limited (CTL), to make mandatory payouts on all exotic bets. The Pick-9, which offers a guaranteed minimum of $1 million, will embrace races three to 11, the first Super-6 from race one to six, the late Super-6 from six to 11, both having guaranteed minimums of $750,000. We look at the first Super-6, which commences with a $450,000-$400,000 claiming race over a mile to be contested by eight starters, including the likely favourite, UNBREAKABLE, who steps down in class after finishing 91/4 lengths fifth to ANOTHER FURY over 1300 metres on February 25. That wasn’t a bad run on a $550,000 claiming tag, and reporting under new management for this race (claimed) and the trip more suitable, UNBREAKABLE will not be easily denied. Champion jockey Omar Walker is slated to ride the consistent six-year-old gelding who now takes orders from trainer Johnny Wilmot for high-profile owner Carlton Watson. Incidentally, UNBREAKABLE was the winningest horse of 2016, winning eight races and $3.4 million in stakes. BULLET RAJ, who is also down in class, gets a glorious opportunity to win the second race over 1100 metres confined to conditional $180,000 claimers. The four-year-old son of Blue Pepsi Lodge – Dancing Gold – showed little behind ARGUMENT DONE over the straight when stepping up on a $250,000 tag on February 4, but prior to that, failed by only half a length to catch RUNJOHNNY RUN over the straight. Now dropping down to conditional $180,000 claiming, BULLET RAJ, with Rayan Wilson riding for trainer Tyrone Prince, should win from VALLEY OF QUEENS, with female apprentice Natalie Berger again in the saddle and ALDEBARAN in a nine-horse field. Horse racing at Caymanas Park moves into a new phase tomorrow with Supreme Ventures Limited taking control of the near 200-acre racing complex from the Government through the divestment process. Already, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVERL), the new promoting company, which moved in office on Tuesday, has revealed plans for major infrastructure development of Caymanas Park, a 20 per cent purse increase estimated at $100 million effective in April, upgrading the racing product by writing more suitable conditions for races in line with the horse population, and finding innovative ways to increase revenues in the short term, among other things. FIRST SUPER-6 FANCIES (1) UNBREAKABLE (2) BULLET RAJ/VALLEY OF QUEENS (3) BUBBLING KITTEN/LIKE A LADY (4) LEEKOUT/KUNAMA (5) TWILIGHT DREAMS/ CAPTUREMYSHIP (6) CRAFTY STAR/PROFILE NO CARRYOVERS BUBBLING KITTEN, who chased home the talented three-year-old colt FEARLESS SAMURAI in a fast-run 1100-metre race (1:06.2) recently, is tipped to go one better in the third race over 1200 metres to be contested by nine very fit horses, including the recent winners LORD EQUUS, LOTTERY TICKET, and hat-trick seeker LIKE A LADY, who is coming to run from her convenient mark, with former champion Wesley Henry again in the saddle. All in all, BUBBLING KITTEN, with back-to-form Robert Halledeen riding for trainer Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes, has kept better company, finishing five lengths fourth to CAMPESINO over this trip in the grade one Caribbean Sprint Championship on November 12 last year. LEEKOUT, who has been a model of consistency, now has the services of three-time champion jockey Dane Nelson, and with his rivals nothing much, should win the fourth race over 1400 metres for maiden four-year-olds and up, giving second-generation trainer Michael Marlowe the second win of his career. KUNAMA, who finished a length third to NINELIFECAT over the straight last Saturday, looks the obvious danger in a field of 11. The last two races in the first Super-6 should be won by the well-forward first-time runner TWILIGHT DREAMS (working very well – 59.1 by 46.3 out of the straight) with Halledeen up, and CRAFTY STAR (Walker up), who lost narrowly to NINELIFECAT last Saturday, to rebound in the sixth over 1200 metres.
NASSAU, Bahamas: The 2011 100m world champion, Yohan Blake, is confident that Jamaica can win the men’s 4x100m at this year’s IAAF World Relays despite the absence of star sprinters Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell. The two-day championship is set to run off this evening at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in Nassau. Blake, who has been plagued by injuries over the past two seasons, said he is fit and ready to help Jamaica take back the gold medal from the Americans, having last won the event in 2014. “You know that when (Usain) Bolt puts down the mantle, I have to take it up, and he has been instilling that in me and so I am ready for this,” Blake said. “Too bad (about) Asafa (Powell) because we wanted him to run and to make the team a lot stronger, but we can still pull it off,” he said. Blake added: “I am going to talk to the team and ensure that we get the baton around and as long we get it around, then I know we will pull it off.” Blake will lead a largely inexperienced Jamaican quartet into battle, with Kemar Bailey-Cole, Jevaughn Minzie, Everton Clarke and Nickel Ashmeade completing the line-up. They will face a stiff challenge from the Americans, whose team includes the vastly experienced Justin Gatlin and Mike Rodgers, along with Ronnie Baker and Leshon Collins. However, despite the strength of their rivals, Blake, fully confident in his preparation for the championships, believes that once he gets the baton within striking distance of the Americans, the Jamaicans will come out on top in the highly anticipated clash. “I am fit and I am ready because my coach makes sure that I am in tip-top shape for this championships and so I just want to get the baton in a good position, then it will be all over,” said Blake, who has a personal best of 9.69 seconds in the 100m. “We are not worried about anybody because on the day, we will be ready because as long as I get the baton in touching distance then we are good to go,” he stated. – R.B. VICTORY EXPECTED