Antonio Watson apologises for 'gun' gesture at Champs 2021

Petersfield High’s Class 1 boys’ 200m gold medal winner Antonio Watson has apologised for his Saturday’s (15 May) actions.

Watson gestured in the shape of a gun and pretended to fire a shot at Edwin Allen High’s Bryan Levell as he crossed the line, which has come in for public criticism.

Director of Tourism, Donovan White, was among those who called on Petersfield to reprimand and insist Watson make a public apology.

“This student (Antonio Watson) need to be spoken to; our nation has tolerated too many questionable/offensive behaviour from our youths…no wonder such violence exist here,” White wrote on Twitter.

“I hope the Petersfield High Principal does reprimand him and insist that he apologises publicly to the other athlete from Edwin Allen, and the viewers of champs,” he said.

Watson issued a statement on Sunday, saying his gesture could jeopardise what he described as a successful Champs 2021.

“I, therefore, want to unreservedly apologise to all the stakeholders, my school, fans, and family for my actions,” he said.

He admitted the “gestures could have been misleading” but was quick to make it clear that he has “no desire to negatively influence others.”

Watson, who trailed Levell into the last 15 metres, got by to win the event in 20.74s. Levell finished second in 20.83.

Watson’s full statement below:

“Champs 2021 is over, and I must say it was a success, and I must thank ISSA, the sponsors, Ministry of Health and all other stakeholders that have worked together to make it possible.

“However, I am now aware that my actions and gesture at the end of the Class 1 boys’ 200m finals could jeopardise all that ….
“I, therefore, want to unreservedly apologise to all the stakeholders, my school, fans, and family for my actions,” he said.

“I have taken full responsibility for such actions as it is in no way a reflection of the ethos of my school, the principles of my coach or the position of ISSA or any of the sponsors.

“Upon reflection, I recognise that my gestures could have been misleading, and I have no desire to negatively influence others.

In fact, going forward, I aspire to demonstrate positive behaviours and attitudes that will inspire countless young Jamaicans to strive for excellence and make our country a true beacon of what is good in this world.”

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Anthony Foster is a renowned Jamaican sports journalist, honored twice as the Jamaica sports journalist of the year (in 2004 and 2005). His journalistic achievements are globally recognized. Notably, he authored an award-winning article on Usain Bolt, the iconic 6-time Olympic champion, 11-time World champion, and record holder for the sprint double. This significant piece was published in the Jamaica Gleaner in 2004. Anthony's extensive coverage includes prestigious events such as the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016. He has also provided coverage for seven (7) World Athletics Championships held between 2007 and 2022, alongside various other international sporting events. Noteworthy mentions comprise his coverage of the 2007 World Cup of cricket and his cherished experience reporting on the 2004 clash between his favorite football team, Argentina, and the USA.


  1. Did the Edwin boy find it offensive
    Did the principal find it offensive
    I guess not
    We all do it without even realizing
    Have you ever been to a football match when CC COLA BLUE a done a side. If you have then you will see it’s just a gesture and nothing to be highlighting.
    Get real.

  2. Though it’s cultural accepted; our athletes should be guided, a Nike or PUMA wouldn’t want to market their brand with an athlete making a gun gesture. Too much talent to waste because of a gesture that society frown upon.

  3. So many other athletes have done it in the past, is this left up to interpretation or what?? While not taking a stance, let’s educate and accept the responsibility as Jamaicans, that we need to guide our young people and correct in love and not be abusive!! His ego is still fragile and he did the grown up thing and apologized, which many cannot do in parliament 💯🙌🏿🙌🏿praying for Jamaica 🇯🇲

  4. Jamaican people in high positions or whatever it be try so hard to belittle their own culture. Dem nuh guh dance, dem nuh buss blank when dem a give something a forward??? Smh. We reach a stage weh wi pass being backwards.

  5. In my hubble opinion the powers that be didn’t want Champs to take place. Another platform to launch the career of another underprivileged Jamaican youth. Can’t stand another Bolt or others like him getting rich by running up and down the track a few times. Not saying that this young man was right. He should be corrected. If that was the intention it would take nothing for a man in his position contact him and offer some guidance. Instead he use it as opertunity to get some limelight and detract from a excellent Champs and the youth performance.

  6. Why was it so important for the director of tourism to speak with such strong voice about this particular student when this action as been done by other athletes of other schools,I did not hear or see anything from him in the 2019,2018 etc… boys and girls Champs. I am not see his writing or hearing his voice in the discussion around the entertainment industry recently.We can’t be selective.

  7. Don’t forge et he is just a kid still learning we should all be helping this young man learn from his reckless mis tKes,he is gonna learn from this and be great

  8. Idk if it’s a case where they’re concerned about the marketing side of things? Hmmm BUT this been going on for yearsssss. Bolt n many others b4 him did it. “Gun fingah” is a gesture many Jamaicans use when celebrating. It’s not that serious. With all this sensitivity dem soon tell di supporters fi stop utter words like “DEM DEAD” publicly. Bcuz a dat me seh when JC WIN Satdeh. U soon hear d comments “oh people that don’t see a prob with it they r the problem ” which equates to contributing to crime/violence . Miss me wit d BS 😴

  9. Kmt smh so a MP was seen beating a woman no expulsion no apology no remarks from the party leader yet an athlete wins a race and celebrates with a gun sign and an apology is wanted ?we always cut our nose off to march our face

  10. This been going on for yearsssss. Bolt n many others b4 him did it. Right now dem soon tell di fans to stop utter words like “DEM DEAD”. Bcuz a dat me seh when KC lose satdeh. “Gun fingah” is a gesture many Jamaicans use when celebrating. It’s not that serious. U soon hear d comments “oh people that don’t see a prob with it they r the problem ” y this is happening. Miss me wit d BS 😴

  11. I dont think it’s the gesture alone, if you read the article it said that he pretended to shoot at his opponent from a competing school. I dont think that was proper if true

    • Carl March Brap Brap what U mean WAT I want to drink, gun culture , he shot away his opponent who were gunning for him, I think the whole culture should change

    • Exactly. This is not the first time it happened either. They are still young so let them enjoy their champs era and victory. When the go pro they will eventually grow out of it.

  12. Agreed he should apologise, but even more so should George Wright who has not even confirmed or denied that he was the one seen on a video beating a woman with a stool. Our leaders must set the example!

    • David Moyston What does George Wright story have to do with this story? U just need a platform to vent. Let’s talk about Antonio & the gun gesture as a high school student & leave politics out of this. In so saying, Antonio should be disqualified. No college will draft him for that gesture.

    • Wentworth Dennie leaders whether in business, politics, academia, etc MUST lead by example. George Wright as such needs to lead. If leaders fail to do so, no matter who they are you can’t blame the youth for being anti social.

    • Donovan Bernard do you think that leaders shouldn’t be held to a higher standard than the rest? Don’t you think that youth and followers look to leaders for examples?

      It’s time we demand proper examples from our leaders!

    • David Moyston I have no problem for person/s to be held responsible for their action, but we the outsiders have to be careful how we comment on matters when we only listen to one side.Sometimes we regret what we say or do when we get closer to the story

    • Donovan Bernard yes as an Attorney at Law I know this, but MP’s, senior public servants have other legal and or other obligations to the populace and must act accordingly. Therefore Mr. Wright needs to say whether or not he was caught in the video. He cannot hide.

    • Wentworth Dennie Why should he be disqualified? Others from KC and JC has done it before and they were not asked to make a public apology. I am by no means condoning the gesture he made. It was inappropriate. However, the first course of action should not be disqualification. How about someone sitting him down and counsel him. I am sure his coach or principal might have done that already. We need to guide our young in the right direction. Too many of them have fallen by the wayside because nobody cared enough to help guide them.

    • Jacqueline Bygrave We have to hold ppl accountable for their actions. Most students in his position at some point will represent Jamaica at a international level, those gestures are not acceptable & will automatically warrant a disqualification. If the KC, Cbar, JC or any other student did that, they should suffer the said consequences. For example the class one boys 400M final the KC athlete fault start & they gave him a warning, no where in the international circuit should that happen, that’s a automatically disqualification. We have to get our students ready to represent Jamaica & must abide by the international rules. Bolt does his celebration & pose after he wins a race & there was a big discussion with the world athletic association because the other athletes felt belittle & ashamed. Thank god they were overruled. Use these athletes as an example to better the younger athletes chances.

    • Wentworth Dennie Yes, I agree with holding people accountable. However, since it is a first offense, no need to blight the young man’s future by disqualifying him. We all make mistakes in life. I am sure he has learned from this unfortunate incident.

    • Jacqueline Bygrave Well I hope he did. With all the gun crimes, killing by the youths in Jamaica it wasn’t professional & wasn’t in the spirit of the sports. Let’s train our students to be professionals since they will be entering the work force, representing their countries, & most of all representing themselves. It doesn’t matter what school they attended, the world is looking at them & will cast them aside for any small gestures.

  13. It’s youthful exuberance but with the climate of crime, it would not sit well . Let’s help our youngsters but not tear them down. I think that his apology is sincere.

  14. If no one expressed concern about the starter firing off over 300 rounds over four days I don’t see why this should be a problem. Maybe next year we’ll ban the starter from using a gun.

  15. Anything that’s not part of the Solution, is a part of the problem…Jamaicans,,, even when we are sinking in the Crap!! we are still coming up with excuses to defend the smell.

  16. Since they are concerned about the high crime rate caused by gun, they should used a whistle or other means for the starter and his assistant to start the various races at the stadium!

  17. I still can’t see the shape of a gun , no matter how hard I look!
    That gesture could mean anything to him and not a good gesture.
    what is his way of saying thanks to the creator for the victory!
    A bunch of followers!

    • Richard Birthwright the gesture where he pulled the gun from his right side, then fired it…using his both hands…then used his left hand to fire at his opponent to his left ….you have to watch the race to see it fully.

    • Suzette Nasanny Preces Pryce that’s how some people in society interpret that gesture, as for as I am concerned that gesture could mean anything in the beholder, what is factual though if said people have an issue with gun violence, then they should lobby against the use of a gun to start the various events at the stadium !

    • Richard Birthwright Brethren, don’t be willfully blind to this issue. Please there are those of us that read your comments from time to time and agree with sentiments you expressed. Don’t do this. Please.

    • Howard Blackwood am not entitle to my own opinion rather than the ones created by society?
      I have seen many other athletes with said gesture in previous champs and no issue was made out of it!

    • Richard Birthwright just imagine this young man on the international stage with such display. Consider how that will be reflected on Jamaica, not him. Not you or me, Jamaica.

    • Richard Birthwright oh bro. Think on these things. Much love. Stay safe. Beginning of a slippery slope. I’m not willing to ignore the genesis of the denigrate of youth sports in Jamaica. Let’s see who will try to upstage that gesture and where this leads to.

    • Richard Birthwright if it was just a gun salute…no problem….but he went further by pulling the ‘gun’ from his waist and fired …right..left…then in the air….

    • Oh. I didn’t see Shelly-Ann gestured to pull anything from her waist. If she did. I vehemently disagree with that as well. I will search on youtube to validate your assertion on that point.

    • Richard Birthwright in case I failed to find that Shelly-Ann gestured, would you mind post a link here. I recalled that a young Bolt was not gracious in victory at the stadium years ago. That behavior was reprimanded and he went on to become a global ambassador for brand Jamaica of which we are all ( I presumed) proud. Mr. Watson is young. He should be corrected, supported and guided, not condemned. In time, hope he becomes the athlete we can all celebrate.

    • Richard Birthwright c’mon man. Let’s not get into silliness. When another flips someone the “bird”, do you ask what kinda of bird, the color of the bird or that the hand gesture could mean “anything” to that person or that it is a favourable gesture directed from one to the other. Rich, my brethren, don’t do this please.

    • Richard Birthwright another point…..where I my commentary did I mention “gun”? For you to ask me such questions? I was talking about his gestures and how it can be interpreted and reflected on Jamaica and Jamaicans.

    • Howard Blackwood I agree with your point regarding the representation on Jamaica and the state of affairs in Jamaica. The sign however, is not something the young man came up with, it has been around for a lifetime. I saw it when I was in school in Jamaica and I am sure you did too. Him pulling it from his waist is probably the enhanced version that young people developed. Crime did not start with these young people, it is exacerbated by drug culture, lack of opportunity etc. The Minister of Tourism should not single out the young but use it as a teaching opportunity for ALL even some of the grown people who still use it when dancing.

    • G Marie Russell I don’t want to get into discussing crime or the causes, what is responsible or not. This young man should be encouraged, guided ( not condemned) and nurtured. He will need that and if successful sponsorship. I’d like him to be advise to keep those things in mind and image which corporate citizens will want their brand to be associated with images/gestures that can be perceived in a negative light. Years ago, if I was so inclined I could attempt to “check yuh” and be persistent at it when/if rebuffed. Nuh try? Lol. Today those same actions can be perceived as sexual harassment. So, not because we may have seen such gestures in our earlier days mean that it should be acceptable now. Children live what they learn. Teach him.

  18. Well I’m glad that he apologized to show humility but seriously guys, this is a natural reaction by most if not all true Jamaicans. When we winning any game or competition we make noise, some people mimic gunshot sound effects or that of a loud cannon. Even in our national Anthem at some point in our lives we said Jamaica “BOOM” and that’s not only mimicking the drum, it’s just who we are, and even at a well respected diplomat or Ambassador’s funeral they do a gun salute. Usain Bolt beat his chest this man Buss two shot, nutten wrong wid dat.

    • Marvin Burke Exactly, I still see folks at very elite functions when they hear Shabba song, everybody hand in the gun symbol singing buyaka, buyaka . This is not a burden for this young man to carry by himself but reprogramming the entire Jamaican society.

  19. I personally don’t have an issue with entertainment in sports other athletes could do the same thing and nothing said about it. However, in my opinion I think it’s a bad move and that’s why the apology came. Jamaica has a high crime rate caused by guns an athlete of his status should not display such a behavior because if God will he becomes famous and a role model what kind of message will he have for the youths about gun violence. What if a US coach sees that type of behavior how will that affect his scholarship, say for example he wants to stay In Jamaica and train how many corporate sponsors will he get. A lot of companies will not attach their brand to an athlete that may bring negative attention. Just my strong opinion, it was entertaining but bad idea. Still a fan.

  20. I guess we all have to act cold and English now. Foot ballers cant dance either. Lots of spirit in youth also lots to learn, seeing how anything nowadays is an offense .

  21. Bolt pull out gun Ina Olympics to but it’s showmanship for him and bad influence for the youth. Swear yuh own ppl always do the most fi get yuh dung when yah try mek it. Dunce mi see it as still coupled with the influence of the politicians 🤷🏾‍♂️

    • Raheem Moncrieffe bro, bolt did it at the camera, he didn’t point it in a athletes face during a race. Huge difference. People do anything infront of the camera before the race starts

    • Jevon Valentino and bro there is nothing wrong and the reason why mi include dunce in my previous comment because people forget simple metaphors. Yes him make a gun signal towards the athlete. Does that mean it was with violent intentions? All mi get from that is that the man come back cone chop him but a blank oon him seh him him dead. Not literally but Ina the race. All entertainment. People tek things too literally and blame badness and crime pon everything but how fucked up the country and its leaders are.

    • Bro it’s bad sportsmanship. Do you know what psychological trauma that could’ve inflict on the other athlete. Train for 8-10 months vigorously and trying to get his head right for a tournament only to get beaten and ridiculed. You guys fail to see the bigger picture

    • Jevon Valentino bro from yuh seh psychological trauma mi nearly diss yuh a while a guh and mi nuh do tht g. Daag yuh sound like a sissy g it as ntn bout being ridiculed. You call it that others call it showmanship. And yuh talk bout psychological drama, did you see afta the race what Watson did? Man shake every competitor hand the one we lh si dung pon the ground the man rub him head symbolizing a good try youth. Daag stop contribute to how thin skin society a get g because nobody really aguh get psychological trauma from that kmt

  22. I really see the big deal. Have to educate him on his responsibilities as a popular athlete but I still see responsiible, older Jamaicans making the gun sign when dancing to popular reggae songs, Buyaka, Buyaka comes to mind. Also in my days that was the first thing athletes did when they won as a bullet symbolizes speed. However, given current environment, they should educated.

    • G Marie Russell So sad that u see nothing wrong with his gesture & I been running tracks & follow the sports for years & never seen such gesture. The sponsors, colleges, fans, & coaches see something wrong with his gesture & might be the end of his careers.

    • Wentworth Dennie I went to high school in Jamaica many years ago and that was very, very common amongst the elite athletes. They likened themselves to a bullet because of the speed. It is also NOT based on the athlete’s background, all different types of athletes did it. Now I understand the heightened sensitivity but it must be a training and rules thing, not shaming of one person, unless they know something else we don’t. So, no in the spurit of what I know it symbolizes, I don’t but understand we need to de-gun the society. The way to do it is not through shaming so folks pick sides but simply through education.


  24. Jamaica a real fuckery place, the man win a race n a buss a blank and dem a investigate ?
    Guh investigate and try find out what can make the country a better place.

  25. Really sorry..but it’s work of the devil..
    This young man has superb talent..lets nurture him and guide him this is what they see as acceptable in this society…

    • Ruth Sharpe young is where they all start.. It’s good some people condemn the situation because it can have implications for his future. Keep in mind Tyrese Cooper, recruiters seeing his gesture might think twice about him.

  26. Maybe we should also be focusing on the sportsmanship of Watson going over and congratulating his opponents after his victory instead of this.


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