The year 2019 was especially notable for the achievements of Jamaica’s women athletes, with the notable and historic Reggae Girlz qualification for an appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time in history. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce winning her historic 4th 100m title at the 2019 Track & Field World Championships. Several female athletes were nominated for prestigious awards, and “Bunny” Shaw was listed among the top 100 women athletes in the world. Records and personal bests were also notable, and the Reggae Boyz finished the year among the top-ranked teams in the world.
BRIANA WILLIAMS NOMINATED FOR LAUREUS WORLD SPORTS AWARD
Jamaican sprint star Briana Williams was nominated to receive the prestigious Laureus World Sports Award. The award ceremony was held in February 2019. Williams, 16, had an exceptional break-out performance year in 2018 and consequently was nominated for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year. Williams said she was “extremely excited” about the nomination. She won the sprint double at the IAAF U20 Championships in 2018 in Finland, achieving a new personal best and championship record time of 22:50 seconds in the 200 meter competition.
USAIN BOLT GAVE UP DREAM OF PLAYING PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL
Jamaica’s Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt decided to forego his goal of playing professional football to concentrate on his business ventures. In a press conference on January 21, 2019, Bolt committed $1 million to support Special Olympics Jamaica in advance of the group’s participation at the World Games in the United Arab Emirates in March 2019. Bolt, 32, said, “Sports life is over so I’m moving into different businesses.” Since his retirement in 2017, Bolt pursued playing with professional soccer teams.
JAMAICA’S REGGAE GIRLZ MADE HISTORY AT WORLD CUP
Jamaica’s national women’s football team, the Reggae Girlz, was considered an underdog in the prestigious Women’s World Cup competition for 2019, but made history just qualifying for the competition. Their appearance at the World Cup was fraught with challenges. They faced obstacles in funding, sponsorship, and practice facilities, but they persevered and, with the help of Cedella Marley, daughter of reggae legend Bob Marley, the team made history by becoming the first Caribbean team to qualify for the World Cup.
SHELLY-ANN FRASER-PRYCE WINS HISTORIC FOURTH 100M TITLE AT THE 2019 TRACK & FIELD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the gold medal in the 100m World Champion In Doha. She becomes a four-time 100m world champion. Fraser-Pryce made history on two fronts when she became the oldest woman to win a World or Olympic Championship in the 100m at the age of 32. She’s only the second mother to achieve the title. The last was 22 years ago. She won the World Championship in Doha, Qatar, in a time of 10.71 seconds.
SPRINT HURDLES RECORD BROKEN BY BRITANY ANDERSON
Jamaica’s Britany Anderson broke the sprint hurdles record at a European Athletics Permit Meet in Motonet, Finland. A World Under-20 silver medalist, Anderson ran the fastest time in history achieved by a junior athlete by winning the 100-meter hurdles with a personal best of 12.71 seconds. The previous record in the event was set by Dior Hall of the United States in 2015 at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. The previous record was 12.74 seconds.
JAMAICANS DACRES, THOMPSON WON GOLD AT PAN AMERICAN GAMES
Jamaica’s athletes participating at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, collected a good share of gold medals. On August 6, 2019, Jamaica’s Independence Day, Fedrick Dacres won gold in the discus throw event by breaking the Pan American Games meet record with a throw of 67.68 meters. The next day, Elaine Thompson, Jamaica’s Olympic and World Athletic champion, won gold in the women’s 100-meter event with a time of 11.18 seconds.
JAMAICA’S SHANIEKA RICKETTS WON TRIPLE-JUMP TROPHY AT DIAMOND LEAGUE
The women’s triple jump at the IAAF Diamond League competition in Zurich, Switzerland, was won by Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts. Rickets led her rivals after five jumps and ultimately achieved a personal best of 14.92 meters to win the Diamond Trophy. Her last jump in the event was the winner as it broke her previous best distance of 14.77 meters.
JAMAICAN WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM WOULD NOT PLAY UNTIL PAID WHAT WAS OWED
The members of Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz women’s national team informed the Jamaica Federation that they would not play until the Federation paid them what they were owed. The players include Khadija [Bunny] Shaw, Toriana Patterson, Allyson Swaby, and Lauren Silver. The players made their position known via social media, posting a “No Pay No Play” banner that stated, “Pay Our Reggae Girlz.” The issue was ultimately resolved as the general secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation Dalton Wint said all the outstanding funds owed to the national senior team have been settled.
CONNIE FRANCIS NAMED HEAD COACH OF SUNSHINE GIRLS AGAIN
Connie Francis was happy about being reappointed as the head coach of the Sunshine Girls and looked forward to moving the team past its recent disappointing performance. Francis, who has considerable experience and who brought Jamaica to the FAST5 Netball World Series in 2017, returned for her second time as head coach. The team, which is ranked fourth in the world, has not medaled in the World Championships since 2007 and performed poorly at the 2019 Netball World Cup. Now, its sights are set on facing England, the world champion New Zealand team, and South Africa in the Quad Series in January 2020.
JAMAICA’S “BUNNY” SHAW LISTED AS ONE OF WORLD’S TOP 100 WOMEN FOOTBALLERS
Jamaican Kadisha “Bunny” Shaw, 22, who was a member of the first Jamaican team to play in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, was included on the list of the top 100 female footballers of 2019 by The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom. Coach Hue Menzies, who guided the team to its historic feat, said he was proud of Shaw. Shaw received a ranking at Number 80 on the list. In an interview with The Star, Menzies stated that Shaw was “very deserving” of the ranking as she had broken “all barriers in football,” being the top scorer in Jamaica, man or woman, She is also the second-leading goal scorer in the French League. He added that it was “very gratifying” to see Shaw honored for her achievements.
YEAR ENDED WITH REGGAE BOYZ RANKED AMONG WORLD’S 50 TOP TEAMS
The Reggae Boyz men’s national football team finished 2019 among the top 50 teams in the world. According to the December 2019 edition of the FIFA world rankings, the Reggae Boyz are ranked Number 48. The team is also ranked Number 4 in CONCACAF. In order to get a place in the hexagonal round of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, the Reggae Boyz must maintain a position among the top six teams in the region.