Bahamas Gives Jamaica Run For Its Money at CARIFTA
Montego Bay, Jamaica – The alarms were going off. Literally. Beneath overcast skies at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex in Montego Bay, Jamaica, someone was setting off the fire alarm in the middle of the third and final day (25) of the 40th CARIFTA Games.
One of the interesting things about the weekend meet was the degree of competitiveness. There is no question who the number one nation is in Caribbean athletics. The Jamaica brand is a powerful one at all levels of the sport, and no less so at the CARIFTA Games, the region’s festival of junior track and field. But this iteration featured a spirited battle for second place, with Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago and, in a pleasant reversal from recent fortunes, Barbados battling it out and taking turns occupying the penultimate spot in the medal table.
After watching Bahamas win three of the four individual 100m races, Jamaica would have been eager for revenge in the 200m series. But Carmiesha Cox of The Bahamas fulfilled her billing by winning the under-17 girls 200m dash in 23.96, over Jamaica’s Jonielle Smith.
Anthonique Strachan came into the final day of the meet with an under-20 women’s 100m gold medal and a share of the 200m Games record, 22.93 with Jamaican legend Veronica Campbell-Brown. The young Bahamian was also facing the very tough test of talented 17-year-old Jamaican Shericka Jackson. In the final, Strachan could manage “only” 23.06, but it was enough to beat Jackson ((23.85). Her double sprint wins and meet record were enough to earn the petite Bahamian, coached by Dianne Woodside, the Austin Sealy Award as the meet’s most outstanding athlete.
Little Yannis David turned in a remarkable performance to win under-17 girls Triple Jump. She will not turn 14 until later this year, but the girl from Guadeloupe handles one of the most technical events in athletics with aplomb, hopping, stepping and jumping her way to 11.78m and a gold medal. Jamaica’s Shardia Lawrence recorded the same best distance, but David recorded that mark twice in her series. Trinidad & Tobago’s Elton Walcott completed the under-20 men’s Triple Jump trifecta, 15.98m good enough to see him past World Youth qualifier Lathone Minns of Bahamas.
Petergaye Reid of Jamaica won the under-20 women’s High Jump with a height of 1.78m, whilst Thea Lafond from the Commonwealth of Dominica went over on her second attempt at 1.75m, and St Lucia’s Jeannelle Scheper cleared 1.70m for bronze. Trae Carey won the under-17 boys Long Jump with a mark of 7.01m for Bahamas, with Bermuda’s Degrilla Jr not far off the pace at 6.94m for silver.
The Jamaicans had expressed their concern about Trinidad & Tobago in the men’s 4x400m, and the foursome of Jareem Richards, Hendrix Foncette, Deon Lendore and Darvin Sandy did indeed best their Jamaican counterparts. Unfortunately, the Bahamas team, which carried the baton across the line first, was disqualified for lane infractions. With notification of the infraction having been conveyed to the Bahamas camp just before the intended start of the medal ceremony, it was a disappointing way to end three days of excellent competition.
Same winner, but changes in top teams
Jamaica ended up 66 medals, six fewer than they captured last year in the Cayman Islands, with four fewer titles. Trinidad & Tobago finally ended up in second with 33 medals, down 40 in 2010, though with the same 12 gold. Barbados got 10 more medals than they did in George Town, their total of 28 including nine gold, eight silver and 11 bronze. The Bahamas improved from last year as well, with one more title and two more medals overall for a total of 31. A total of 18 territories came away from these Games with at least one medal; 17 did so last year.
With Bermuda committed to staging the 2012 CARIFTA Games, the Bahamas are being considered as a host for 2013, with the British Virgin Islands also preparing a bid for 2014. After having waited months to find a host for the 40th edition of these Games, it would be a welcome change to see advance planning going into the meet, to give athletes, organizing committees, sponsors and travelling fans enough lead time to make the Games a glorious spectacle. As Neville “Teddy” McCook remarked in the closing ceremony, “the future of Caribbean athletics looks bright, especially if our leaders follow these athletes and show the kind of leadership they exhibited this weekend.”
Source: Terry Finisterre for the IAAFcaribbean, jamaica, sports