Elaine Thompson ended the 2016 season as the most dominant female sprinter in the world, earning her a nomination for the 56th RJR Sports Foundation National Sportswoman of the Year award.Thompson catapulted to the forefront of female sprinting last year as she embodied the motto of one of her alma maters and allowed her light to shine.She became the first Caribbean woman to win the sprint double at the Olympic Games.The 24-year-old Thompson also earned a silver medal as part of Jamaica’s Olympic 4x100m relay team, bronze in the 60m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, and the IAAF Diamond League trophy for the 100m as she ended the season undefeated in 12 finals in that particular event.She also registered the three fastest times in 2016 in the 100m (10.70, 10.71, and 10.72) and the two fastest times in the 200m (21.78 and 21.85).”It is a good feeling to be on top now, and I am also a role model to everyone looking up to me, and I just have to maintain that level that I am at right now and just push myself further in the future,” Thompson said.WINNING WOULD BE A PRIVILEGEBut despite the many accolades earned in 2016, including having being one of three females shortlisted for the 2016 IAAF Women’s World Athlete of the Year, Thompson said that winning her first National Sportswoman of the Year award would be a privilege.”Winning this year’s RJR [Sports Foundation National] Sportswoman of the Year award would be an honour and also a motivation to push me further, knowing that last season I did well and dominated both in the 100m and 200m, and I accomplished my dream by making the Olympics team for the first time,” Thompson said.To put Thompson’s spectacular rise into proper perspective, one has to examine where she is coming from and how quickly she has ascended to the top of female sprinting.Born in Banana Ground in Manchester, Thompson attended Christiana High School and later, Manchester High, which has as its motto ‘Let your light so shine’. But like many of her MVP club mates, Thompson was not a track star in high school. Representing Manchester High at the 2009 Boys and Girls’ Championships, she placed fifth in the Class Two 100m final with a modest 12.01 seconds clocking and did not even make the team in her final year.Just three years (2013) prior to her Olympics triumph, Thompson’s 100m personal best (PB) stood at an unremarkable 11.41 seconds, but she continued her improvement in 2014, dropping her 100m PB to 11.17. In 2015, however, she got the world to start taking notice after getting the better of a field including American Allyson Felix and Nigerian Blessing Okagbare inside Jamaica’s National Stadium and then improved her PB to 10.84 at the Eugene Classics.She also took on the 200m in 2015, running four races, registering times of 22.37, 22.31, 22.10, and then 21.66 to win silver behind Dafne Schippers in the final of the half-lap event at the World Championships.The bit of history was necessary to show how Thompson has progressed as the last two females to have achieved the feat of claiming the sprint double at the Olympics, one, Marion Jones, has since admitted to taking drugs and has been stripped of the titles. As for the other, Griffith-Joyner, there is a negative tension and a feeling of ‘too-good-to-be-true’ that accompanies any mention of her achievement, with both victories having come in yet-to-be challenged record times.Thompson, like many others before her, did not even come close to Florence Griffith-Joyner’s Olympic records of 10.54 in the 100m and 21.34 for the 200m, but she certainly evoked that same kind of excellence.Her winning time in the Olympic 100m final of 10.71 was the best at an Olympics since Griffith-Joyner in 1988 and was just 0.01 (10.70) shy of her lifetime best and the Jamaican national record, which she shares with club mate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and is the joint fourth-fastest time over the distance on the all-time list.NO FLUKEIn the 200m final, she was just as impressive, winning in 21.78, also a world lead, after handily fending off a late-race challenge by Schippers to reverse their finish from the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.Thompson proved that her Olympics 200m triumph was no fluke as in the first post-Olympics clash in the 200m, in Laussane, Thompson showed versatility in racing style, timing her surge perfectly to pip Schippers (21.86), winning in 21.85.The race also included two-time Olympic champion and three-time world champion Allyson Felix, who was third in 22.02 seconds.Thompson further reaffirmed her title as the fastest woman on the planet when she won the 100m at the final Diamond League meeting of the season to claim the overall Diamond League 100m title. She took the race at the Brussels meet in 10.72, again seeing off Schippers, as she equalled the meet record of her compatriot Fraser-Pryce.The RJR Sports Foundation is for the 56th year honouring outstanding achievements in sports by professional or amateur Jamaican athletes who have represented the country in an internationally recognised sporting competition between January 1 and December 31.The 2016 RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards will be handed out at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on January 13.
2017 economic outlookBy Jarryl BryanOn the heels of a report by Guyana Times, the Government has admitted that Guyana’s macro-economic outlook for 2017 turned out to be worse than projected, with a 2.1 growth rate being recorded.Finance Minister Winston Jordan holds up a copy of the report which, confirmed low economic growthFinance Minister Winston Jordan made this admission during his first press conference for the year on Friday at his Ministry. Revealing that the 2017 end of year economic report has been completed, he linked the dismal figures to sectors including sugar.Guyana’s last best growth rate was 5.2 per cent in 2013. World Bank records show Guyana’s growth rates in 2014 was 3.8 per cent, 2015 3.2 per cent, and 2016 3.3 per cent.“The economy did not perform as robust as we expected during last year,” the Minister admitted. “Even at the half year we were predicting that the economy would not, given what we knew about sugar. At the end of the day, it was even worse than we predicted. So even though there was positive growth last year, the growth rate ended up being 2.1 per cent.”“Sugar, we had budgeted at 208,000 tonnes, came in at only 137,307 tonnes. Bauxite again did not do quite well. We had budgeted 1.7 million tonnes. Bauxite came in at 1.4 million. Gold (was a) major disappointment. We budgeted at 694,000 ounces. It came in at 653,674 ounces.”Rice did produce positive figures, with the Minister reporting that from a target of 600,000 tonnes, rice was recorded at 630,104 tonnes. Having budgeted for 318,000 cubic metres, forestry recorded 349,900 cubic metres. Jordan noted that this is better than previous years. And in terms of fiscal performance itself, the deficit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has actually decreased; a positive indicator. According to Jordan, the overall state of the economy is nothing new.“I think I’ve been quite open with you about this economy, in the sense that this economy has not changed much in over 50 years, depending on one or two products, which depends on what prices are. One day you’re up when gold is up, one day you’re down when bauxite is down.”“Our critical sectors have always depended on some grandfather, that grandfather being some protectionist market. In the case of sugar, that grandfather being the [African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States] ACP markets. In the case of rice, rice has always had some kind of grandfather market,” Jordan explained.Previously, Jordan had said the economy was expected to grow by 2.9 per cent, failing to meet the revised growth projection of 3.1 per cent for 2017. The initial projected growth of the economy was 3.8 per cent. This was, however, revised by midyear to 3.1 per cent after the economy only grew by 2.2 per cent by July.State of the economyThe Finance Ministry’s half year report was released in July of last year. It had showed contractions in certain sectors, when compared to the corresponding period in 2016. The declining sectors had included sugar, livestock, forestry, mining and quarrying and even the bauxite industry.It showed that sugar production was recorded at 49,606 tonnes at the half year and when compared to 56,645 tonnes during the first half of 2016, represented a decline of 12.4 per cent. The livestock industry also contracted by 10.9 per cent in the first half of 2017, due to heavy rainfall severely affecting production, especially in the second quarter.The forestry industry also showed an 18.2 per cent contraction in the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. Declining production within the forestry industry was due to structural changes in the industry.The mining and quarrying sector contracted by 4.0 per cent, during the first half of 2017. Gold production fell by 1.7 per cent to 317,096 ounces, in the first half of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. Also, it showed the bauxite industry declined by 11.5 per cent, as a result of reduced production of higher valued grades.This was due to poor weather combined with mechanical issues at one of the mines. However, production of metal grade bauxite (MAZ) increased by 97,016 tonnes or 21.3 per cent, the report had stated.