Jamaican athletes poised to pounce in Beijing

first_img Fraser-Pryce has been reported to have said, “I’m not running the 200m.” With her omission, the title will be up for grabs. The door has been flung open for Elaine Thompson to lead Jamaica’s challenge in the event. Thompson should be joined by veterans Veronica Campbell-Brown and Sherone Simpson in the 200m pool of potential medallists. With a season best of 22.10 seconds and consistency which belies her limited experience, Thompson is best positioned to earn a medal for Jamaica on her first major international assignment; the workloads of the other women being militating factors working against favourable predictions for the Jamaican veterans. Thompson’s quest for gold took an encouraging turn when it was revealed that perennial race favourite and former champion, Allyson Felix of the United States, would not be competing in the event in Beijing and has opted to face the starter in the 400m instead of attempting the difficult 200-400m double. Felix, who has had her fair dose of injury woes in recent seasons, had thrown down the gauntlet as early as May in Doha, setting a season-leading time of 21.98. In her absence, the field will not have a clear favourite, though American Candyce McGrone (22.08, July 17) has the stats to wear the favourite hat. Thompson is well prepared by Stephen Francis of MVP and should mount the Beijing podium twice at these Championships, if she is made available to represent in the sprint relays. The sprint relay pool is not as deep as that of USA, and race accumulation may render Campbell-Brown and Simpson race flat when it matters most. Notwithstanding, the team will be good enough to earn a medal; silver is projected, with USA expected to win. PRIZE MONEY DISCUS Up for Grabs! CHAMBERS IN Viable Prospects Ricardo Chambers crossed the line third in the 400m, but violated lane rules at the Jamaican National trials in June. He finished third in the 400m at the NACAC Senior Championship and received a call-up to replace Edino Steele, who cited personal reasons for declining to represent Jamaica at the World Champs. With a season best of 44.93, Chambers is the fourth fastest Jamaican of 2015 behind Javon Francis, 44.50, and Rusheen McDonald, 44.60. Individually, Francis, McDonald and company will be working overtime to restore Jamaica’s quarter-mile heritage, which began Jamaica’s prowess in the sport in 1948 with the likes of Herb McKenley and Arthur Wint at the London Olympics. Chambers’ late inclusion should assist Jamaica’s quest to revive their 4x400m heritage. But, the status quo is unlikely to change this year as, at present, the 4×400 men’s team is predicted to be wide of a history-making mark, with the USA, The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago, and possibly Belgium, being esteemed among the leading male quartets heading for Beijing. The prospects for Jamaica’s women’s 4x400m relay team is much brighter though; the women should be in the big money, with a podium finish. Truth is, the USA is extremely blessed with quarter-mile talents and Jamaica will be chasing early on, racing with Bahamian women for Caribbean pride. Lane violation aside, MVP should add dough to its purse through Kaliese Spencer. The perfectly built 400m hurdler has a personal best of 52.79, done in 2011. Spencer is the most viable Jamaican prospect in the event, but will need to be at her best to stave off Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic, who has a personal best of 52.83, done in 2013. The season leader is USA’s Shamier Little, who has run sub-54 on two occasions this year. Her best performance of 53.74 was achieved in June. But Spencer and Hejnova have superior stats from 200m to 800m and should prove a little too much for the American. Projections are for Jamaica to earn gold in the 400m hurdles for women. The same is not expected in the sprint hurdles for females, where the US’ dominance is dizzying to all comers. But on the male side, the Jamaicans are expected to be technically ready for the Beijing outing. Here the US’ David Oliver is the class act in a fairly qualified field. He will do extremely well to win, or may run extremely poorly to finish out of the medals. Jamaica can eye two podium spots in the 110m hurdles. Although the national record holder, Hansle Parchment, was second best at the National Trials, the word is that he is conditioned methodically with the World Championships honours in mind. Projections are for Parchment to be ahead of Omar McLeod, though McLeod enters the event as the second fastest man of 2015, behind Olando Ortega of Cuba. Approximately 2,000 athletes from more than 200 nations are expected to compete in the Chinese capital over 10 days, starting August 21 and ending August 31 at the IAAF World Championships of Athletics. With US$100,000 on offer for record-breaking performances and another US$60,000 for individual podium-topping finishers, Jamaica now has the momentous distinction of having the most success per capita of all countries in the world in track and field. At this 15th staging of the Championships, which starts tomorrow, local time, Jamaica will be gunning to go better than their medal haul of nine, which was gained in the last staging in Moscow, Russia, in the summer of 2013. In addition to Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaicans earning wildcard spots on the team of 53 athletes include 2014 Diamond Race winners Kaliese Spencer in the 400m hurdles and Novlene Williams-Mills in the 400m. Beijing has been a happy hunting ground for Jamaica, and the US$80,000 incentive for winning teams in the relays means the mining for gold in the one-lap relays and medal-winning purses in the four-lap races will be a priority for athletes and team managers. Jamaica’s 4x100m relay pools are bolstered by Nesta Carter, Nickel Ashmeade and Kerron Stewart, who all formed part of the triumphant 4x100m teams in the Russian capital, and have also been included in the relay squads this time around. Jamaica gained late wildcard inclusions, with Rasheed Dwyer added for the 200m and Ricardo Chambers for the 400m. Both athletes gained their ‘brawta’ spots as a result of efforts at the North and Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Senior Championships held in early August. Outside of Bolt, Jamaica’s best chance of earning another podium spot in the men’s 200m is a wildcard entrant in the person of Rasheed Dwyer. Dwyer is poised to pounce, but given our history of nepotistic decision-making practices, it is highly unlikely that Ashmeade, Weir, or Forte will give Dwyer the ‘bligh’. Jamaica cannot exceed four entrants under the rules of completion; I wonder if Bolt will oblige? Dwyer’s inclusion cannot be argued, as he is the Jamaican with the fastest 200m time of the year, 19.80, which was achieved as recent as July 23 in Toronto, Canada. The mark places him as the second fastest in the world year-to-date. He now holds the designation of prospective medallist behind Gatlin and Bolt. Dwyer, who finished fifth at the national trials in the absence of Bolt, will be a suitable alternate eyeing a sprint-relay spot. Jamaica’s contingent includes five throwers, shot-putters Danniel Thomas and O’Dayne Richards, while Federick Dacres, Jason Morgan and Chad Wright ensure all the male spots are filled in discus. Projections are for at least one of the male throwers to medal in 2015. With Jamaican men ranked at No. 2 in both the discus and shot putt, in the persons of Morgan and Richards, respectively, Richards is expected to transition on to the world stage with a medal-winning effort in Beijing, following-up on his Commonwealth Games gold medal of 2014. When the dust would have settled on the IAAF Championships of 2015 over Beijing, Jamaica can expect a double digit haul of medals – five gold, three silver and four bronze is a realistic prediction. The summary table is intended to temper the readers’ expectations.last_img read more

New Sanparks educational centre

first_imgSanparks officials open the GranthamEnvironmental Education Centre in theKaroo National Park.(Image: Sanparks) MEDIA CONTACTS • Reynold Thakhuli  Sanparks GM Media; Events and   Stakeholder Relations  +27 12 426 5203 or +27 73 373 4999 RELATED ARTICLES • Lions return to Great Karoo • SA scholar named a Charlotte Fellow • SA marks year of biodiversity • Leading the way in eco-tourism • SA safaris tops at 2011 awardsLyndon JafthaNestled in the Waterberg Mountains in Limpopo province, the 76 000ha Marakele National Park, near the mining town of Thabazimbi, is a haven for wildlife species such as the Cape vulture, reedbuck, elephant, Jackal buzzard, kudu and the critically endangered black rhino.The park, which is also home to threatened plants such as South Africa’s national tree, the yellowwood, and the Waterberg cycad, now boasts a new educational facility. The Thutong Environmental Educational Centre was officially opened on 20 June 2011.Thutong is a public-private initiative of the South African National Parks (Sanparks) authority, with the generous help – to the tune of R7.9-million (US$1.1-million) – of the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund and the Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust, which was established in 2006.Anglo America’s Kumba Iron Ore, which operates one of the world’s largest open-pit mines in the area, was also a partner in the project.Speaking at the opening ceremony, Sanparks CEO David Mabunda expressed his expectation that Thutong would play a role in mitigating climate change in the region.Established with the aim of getting young people together to discuss and share ideas on challenges facing the environment, the centre “… comes at a time when the global community grapples with the effects of climate change and global warming due to the greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere,” said Mabunda.He believes that poverty is a factor in the degradation of the environment, and deems it essential that pupils and teachers learn more about the environment. In this way they can effectively contribute to minimising the negative impact on nature caused by human activities.Environmental educationThe centre is one of nine Sanparks educational facilities in parks around the country. Others include the Grantham Environmental Education Centre in the Karoo National Park, the Predator Information Centre in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the Wilgenhof Environmental Education Centre in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, and the Kruger National Park’s Goldfields Centre.These facilities host youngsters and their teachers from local communities and visiting school groups, including those participating in Sanparks’ Kids in Parks educational initiative. Here they learn about the natural and cultural heritage associated with the area, and the importance of conserving these treasures.Thutong consists of 22 rooms, six of them en-suite, and an auditorium which accommodates up to 140 people for workshops and functions.Because the county’s ever-popular national parks and their centres provide outstanding opportunities to educate visitors about environment-related issues, Sanparks plans to build more such facilities.The organisation is also currently involved in the environmental and conservation education of children in poor communities surrounding the Marakele National Park. The project has started in the communities around Thabazimbi and is to expand to neighbouring districts.Sanparks welcomes any assistance to transport these children into the park, where the young visitors will sit through an introductory lecture, enjoy refreshments, and experience a game drive. A sum of R20 ($2.9) per child is needed and the goal is to raise the funds to give 50 children this opportunity every week. This project is expected to run for one year. Those willing to help can email vhr.kidsinpark@gmail.com.Protecting natural heritageSanParks came into existence in 1926, when the National Parks Bill was passed in Parliament. The bill, which was originally rejected in 1923, allowed game reserves to become national parks, promoting conversation and contributing to social and economic development. Since 1994, the total size of the parks has increased by 385 404ha.Activities within the parks include research on wildlife diseases, reintroduction of populations into protected areas, inventories of biodiversity, the identification of threats to the biodiversity, and the creation and implantation of conservation plans for endangered species, to name a few.Parks management are also kept busy ensuring that alien plants do not invade and kill off indigenous flora.In addition, these parks and centres, as well as camping sites and conference venues, create employment opportunities for local residents. During its construction, the Thutong centre provided employment for about 50 people from surrounding communities.There are overnight facilities in most parks, and each park has its own highlights, such as game drives, hikes and visits to local heritage sites or places of interest.With the parks located in different regions, tourists can enjoy coastal, bushveld, mountain and arid surroundings. The parks and their activities allow tourists to view nature at its most unspoilt, and to appreciate the expansive beauty that is found in South Africa.  Reynold Thakhuli: General Manager Media; Events and Stakeholder Relations, South African National Parks, Tel: (012) 426-5203 or 073-373 4999, E-mail: Reynold.thakuli@sanparks.orglast_img read more

Cyber Monday Scorecard: Web Users Win, Mobile Users Wait

first_imgRole of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Mobile performance issues could also impact showrooming. Accessing mobile sites and apps can take a relatively long time even on the best of days, and during the extraordinarily busy holiday period few sites managed to offer anything close to a speedy mobile shopping experience. Compuware said the five fastest mobile sites were Office Depot,  Barnes and Noble, Williams-Sonoma, Buy.com and HSN, and that mobile traffic grew more than 250% for Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Cyber Monday saw mobile traffic volumes that were slightly lower than Black Friday, the company said, but the volume of mobile visitors was substantially higher than these same retailer sites saw during the previous week. That makes sense, as the whole point of Cyber Monday is that shoppers are back at their work computers. Overall, of the sites Compuware tracked, only 10% of site visits were accessed via a smartphone.Keynote provided more granular numbers, but tracked just six sites that it claimed delivered the full mobile page in less than 7 seconds: Toolfetch (which loaded in a sparkling 2.96 seconds), Office Depot (3.15 seconds), Barnes & Noble (4.95 seconds), Buy.com (6.40 seconds), Amazon.com (6.56 seconds), Best Buy (6.63 seconds), Grainger (4.66 seconds), HSN (6.74 seconds) and Sears (6.95 seconds). For its part, online payment service PayPal reported 196% more mobile payment volume on Cyber Monday 2012 than Cyber Monday 2011. That indicates that many shoppers were buying using their smartphones even while at work. So what were all those people actually buying? Well, Microsoft claimed it sold more than 750,000 Xbox 360 consoles in the U.S. alone. Image source: Flickr/Wesley Fryer “Cyber Monday was not only the pinnacle of the Thanksgiving shopping weekend but when the cash register closed it officially became the biggest online shopping day ever,” said Jay Henderson, strategy director of IBM Smarter Commerce, in a statement. “Retailers that adopted a smarter marketing approach to commerce were able to adjust to the shifting shopping habits of their customers, whether in-store, online or via their mobile device of choice, and fully benefit from this day and the entire holiday weekend.” Most Web Retailers Were PreparedWhile most sites planned for a surge of traffic via PCs, some notable retailers apparently did not, with mobile sites being even worse. According to Panopta, Kmart, Sears and CDW fared the worst, with outages that topped a total of ten hours in Kmart and Sears’ case. Although those outages were spread out going back to November 10, a total of 41 sites failed to meet the goal of 99.9% uptime, the lowester threshold for an acceptable online presence. The top five worst-performing sites also included TigerDirect and Victoria’s Secret; other notables that failed to meet the 99.9% threshold included Gamefly, Gamestop, Office Depot, Blockbuster and Shutterfly.Other e-tailers excelled. Compuware’s Application Performance Management (APM) system named Apple, Costco, JCPenney, Dell and Overstock (O.co) the fastest Web sites. Panopta credited a number of major online retailers, including Amazon, Apple, Buy.com, Costco, eBay, Kohls, Lowes, REI, Staples and Target, among others, with suffering no downtime whatsoever. That’s a significant change from past years, when even the largest retailers sometimes staggered under the load.Traffic to retail Web sites for North America, via Akamai.“Even with record numbers of visitors coming to online retailers, it is clear that most of them were prepared for the traffic this year,” Compuware said in a statement. “Throughout the holiday weekend and into Cyber Monday, no major retailer suffered a significant online outage. And when issues were detected with sites, in most cases it resulted from third-party content having performance issues, not the host site. This is a problem retailers need to attend to.”What About Mobile?The problem, if there was one, was that most e-tailers still prioritize shoppers coming from desktop and laptop PCs. They either forgot about or didn’t have the resources to properly service mobile consumers trying buy something on the go or compare online prices to what they saw in brick-and-mortar stores. This last practice, dubbed “showrooming,” has been exploited by Amazon with apps that allowed mobile shoppers to take pictures of items and scan barcodes, then find the same product online. But retailers like Macy’s have begun to fight back, with apps that offer “unpublished” deals to shoppers who are physically within their stores. Shopkick, another third-party app, published a “black book” of deals for retailers like Old Navy, offering in-store deals as well. Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces A Big Online Shopping Win“I think the only way to describe the Thanksgiving openings was a huge win,” the president and chief executive of the National Retail Federation (NRF), Matthew Shay told reporters in a Sunday briefing. “And in that regard lots of people won this weekend, and it wasn’t just Notre Dame and Ohio State.”According to the NRF, which includes both brick-and-mortar as well as online retailers, shoppers are beginning to treat Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday as a five-day holiday, with both brick-and-mortar and online shoppers benefiting. “It’s becoming more and more of a tradition,” Shay said.Thanksgiving was a “blow-out traffic day,” wrote Akamai’s Manz, with an early peak of 4,910,674 page views per minute at Noon Eastern Time, then an even bigger peak of 7,411,734 page views per minute at 10pm. Just as in 2011, Thanksgiving drove higher shopping spikes, but Black Friday produced consistently more page views overall – 25% more, according to Akamai. Unexpectedly, though, Cyber Monday topped them both, generating a 13% higher spike than Thanksgiving, and 16% more traffic volume than Black Friday. Cyber Monday online sales were up more than 36% compared to Black Friday, IBM reported. The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologycenter_img Related Posts What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … markhachman Shoppers flocked to the Web’s e-commerce sites over the long Holiday weekend, and Web retailers welcomed them with open arms and fast response times while ringing up record sales. But customers hoping to shop via their smartphones met the equivalent of long lines.According to Akamai Technologies, traffic to online retail sites topped 8.5 million page views per minute on what has become known as “Cyber Monday,” just before 9pm Eastern Time. That peak was the largest retail traffic spike in history, Lelah Manz, the chief strategist of commerce at Akamai, wrote in a blog post.All the traffic seems to have paid off in dollar sales, too: According to IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark, online sales jumped 30.3% over 2011, which would break comScore’s forecast of a 20% increase in online sales, or $1.5 billion on that one day alone. Online, Amazon was the big winner on Cyber Monday, enjoying a 36% increase to almost 35 million visits, as measured by Experian; Walmart and Best Buy were close behind.last_img read more