With the CARIFTA Games returning to The Bahamas, it’s imperative that the host nation has a strong showing. Nothing lower than a second place showing would suffice.
The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) is anticipating a strong team to represent the nation at home, but so far, just 11 athletes have qualified.
Last year, a total of 65 athletes represented The Bahamas at the 46th CARIFTA Games in Willemstad, Curaçao, and the year before, The Bahamas sent 55 to St. George’s, Grenada – all CARIFTA qualifiers.
BAAA Assistant Secretary Mabelene Miller is convinced that many more athletes will qualify in the coming weeks.
The Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) Track and Field Championships, the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) Track and Field Championships, the National High School Track and Field Championships, and the CARIFTA Trials are all on the agenda prior to the staging of the CARIFTA Games.
The 47th Flow CARIFTA Games is set for the Easter Holiday weekend, March 30 to April 2, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
“When you look at it, it may appear to be coming in very slow, but leading up to the time, we will have a number of qualifiers,” said Miller. “A lot of persons are coming close. What is happening is because of there being no wind-reading at some of the meets, we can’t accept some of the times, but a number of times are exceptionally low. We’re certain that when certain athletes compete again, we will be able to qualify and field a full team. You will see most of our athletes qualifying at the BAISS, the GSSSA and the Nationals.”
According to reports, both of the wind gauges that are utilized at the original Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium were destroyed. Miller said that once that issue is rectified, much more athletes would qualify for CARIFTA. The Bahamas is hoping to build on its 31-medal tally and six-gold medal performance from last year’s CARIFTA Games. The year before, The Bahamas won 33 medals, inclusive of five gold, in Grenada. Both times, The Bahamas finished third.
“We’re hoping for at least a 50-member team. Once it gets closer to the time, we will have more athletes qualified, and we will go out there and represent The Bahamas to the best to our ability. The wind looks like it has calmed down a bit, so I don’t think that will be a factor going forward. We are very confident that we will have a good showing. We are at home, and the kids have been working very hard. They are at the track every day working extremely hard, trying their best to achieve the standards leading up to CARIFTA.”
Qualifying in the under17-girls 100 meters (m) are Star Trackers teammates Jaida Knowles and Anthaya Charlton – both at the McKenley-Wint Track and Field Classic in Kingston, Jamaica. Knowles and Charlton ran wind-legal times of 11.89 and 12.03 seconds respectively.
At the Star Trackers Star Performers Track and Field Classic, Megan Moss went under the qualifying standard in the under-17 girls 400m. The CARIFTA under-18 champion from a year ago ran 55.96 seconds to go under the standard of 57 seconds flat for this year’s CARIFTA. In the under-17 girls 800m, Jasmine Knowles ran 2:19.59 to go under the qualifying standard of 2:20. She did that at the Roadrunners Track and Field Classic.
Making a name for herself is Shaunae Miller’s youngest sister Shaunece. The 14-year-old qualified for CARIFTA in the under-17 girls high jump at the Roadrunners Classic. She had a best jump of 1.64m (5’ 4-1/2”) to go over the qualifying standard of 1.60m (5’ 3”).
In the under-17 boys division, Raymond Oriakhi went under the CARIFTA qualifying standard in the 110m hurdles. He ran 14.21 seconds at the Roadrunners Classic to go under the standard of 14.37 seconds. Also making a statement in the under-17 boys division is Tarajh Hudson. He hurled the discus 47.81m (156’ 10”) at the Roadrunners Classic to go far beyond the qualifying mark of 41.50m (136’ 2”). If that wasn’t enough, he set a new personal best of 48.85m (160’ 3”) at the 15th Annual Club Monica Athletics Track and Field Classic.
Gabrielle Gibson went under the qualifying mark in the under-20 girls 100m hurdles. She ran 13.96 seconds at the Roadrunners Track and Field Classic to go under the qualifying time of 14 seconds flat.
Competing at the 3rd RC Athletics Throwers Meet, CARIFTA bronze medalist Acacia Astwood had a throw of 43.40m (142’ 4”) in the under-20 girls discus to qualify for this year’s CARIFTA. The qualifying mark is 41m flat (134’ 6”). She came back at the Club Monica Classic and recorded a new personal best, throwing the device 45.27m (148’ 6”).
Not to be outdone, Wagner College freshman Tiffany Hanna had a personal best throw of 13.33m (43’ 8-3/4”) at the Penn 8-Team Select, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania, on Staten Island, New York. She surpassed the under-20 girls shot put CARIFTA qualifying distance of 13m flat (42’ 7-3/4”).
CARIFTA gold medalist in the under-18 boys long jump from a year ago, Denvaughn Whymns, is moving up to the under-20 boys division this year. Whymns leapt 7.22m (23’ 8-1/4”) at the T-Bird Flyers Track and Field Classic to qualify for this year’s CARIFTA in the under-20 boys long jump event. The qualifying standard is 7.15m (23’ 5-1/2”) and Whymns has a personal best leap of 7.31m (23’ 11-3/4”).
There are still a number of top junior track and field athletes in the country who are yet to qualify, but BAAA Assistant Secretary Miller is confident that they will be able to do so in the coming weeks.
If times continued to be nullified by wind, the BAAA will have to make a decision as to whether or not to allow wind-aided performances to be validated as CARIFTA qualifying standards.
The 47th CARIFTA Games is a little over a month away – March 30 to April 2, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium right here in The Bahamas.