CARIFTA legacy is long and proud

When the CARIFTA Games are held at
the Truman Bodden Sports Complex over the Easter weekend, it will mark a long
history of Cayman’s involvement in the region’s premiere junior athletics
tournament.

The annual CARIFTA Games started in
1972 and Cayman’s first team competed seven years later in Kingston, Jamaica.

Cayman did well, producing four
finalists in David Hooker, Maxwell Wilson, Trevor Gillings and Teresa Bodden.

The following year in Bermuda none
of the five Caymanian competitors were able to reach finals but by the
following year there was more success in the Bahamas.

Gillings got to a final and so did
Sandra Wellington.

In 1982 back in Jamaica, Cayman got
their first medals. Wellington secured bronze in the Under-17 girls’ 800 metres
and Tabitha Parchment took silver in the U17 girls’ 1500m.

 In 1983 in Martinique Adam Llewellyn proudly
took gold for Cayman in the U17 boys’ discus. He also took bronze in the shot
put.

The next year in the Bahamas,
Edward Manderson won bronze for Cayman in the boys’ U17 long jump. In 1985 in
Barbados, Manderson got gold in the U20 long jump and Herfa Ebanks (women’s
3,000m Open) and Paul Hurlston (men’s U20 javelin) got silvers.

In Guadeloupe in 1986 Manderson
secured silver in the men’s U20 triple jump and Llewellyn also grabbed silver
in the U20 discus.

The best medal haul to date came in
Trinidad in 1987 when the young Kareem Streete-Thompson took gold in the boys’
U17 long jump and Edward Manderson also captured gold in the U20 long and
triple jumps. Ryan Haylock reached silver in the U17 javelin.

In Kingston, Jamaica in 1988
Streete-Thompson, in the U17s, got gold this time in the long jump.

Racquel Morrison also grabbed gold
in the girls’ U17 high jump.

CARIFTA silver medals came for
Vanda Powery in the girls’ U17 discus and Peterkin Berry competing in the U17
boys’ javelin.

Barbados was next with Streete-Thompson
taking gold in his final year in the U17 in the long jump and silver in the
100m.

Racquel Morrison got bronze in the
U17 long jump and Haylock got the same in the U20 discus.

Streete-Thompson leap was the
CARIFTA U17 record which still stands today. His overall performances won the
Austin Sealey award as the best athlete at the championships. All the Cayman athletes
in the team were finalists that year.

In Jamaica in 1990, Cayman had
their best medal haul up till then, with three golds. Streete-Thompson became
the first repeat winner of the Austin Sealey award by winning the U20 long
jump, again with a record that still stands.

Haylock was equally superb, winning
two golds in the discus and javelin.

Dominic Powell went to Trinidad in
1991 and captured gold in the boys’ U17 javelin and took silver in the discus.

Jeffrey Goddard mined bronze in the
boys’ U17 javelin.

In the Bahamas in 1992, Susan
Borden got bronze in the girls’ U17 javelin and Powell won bronzes in javelin
and discus at U17 level. Emerging track queen Cydonie Mothersill made the
finals of the girls’ U17 200m.

In Martinique in 1993, Cayman
failed to medal for the first time since 1981 but by the following year in
Barbados they were in full flow again. Mothersill won gold in the U17 100m and
silver in the 200m.

Cayman hosted the CARIFTA Games in
1995 and won four bronzes. Mothersill competing in the U20s got hers in the
sprints with Dominic Powell (U20 shot put) and Elroy Bryan (boys’ U17 shot put)
securing the others.

Back to Jamaica in 1996 and Cydonie
stole the show, winning the U20 sprints and getting the Austin Sealey award to
boot.

Mothersill took 200m gold again at
the 1997 Barbados CARIFTAs.

David Hamil, now a PE teacher and
track coach, was Cayman’s only medallist, with a bronze in the U17 boys’ 200m
at the 1998 Games in Trinidad. Hamil is 26 now and is making a comeback as a
sprinter hoping to get to the Commonwealth Games in India.

The following CARIFTAs, in
Martinique, Cayman got a bumper haul with five bronzes. They were won by
Schawanah McCarthy in the U17 girls’ 100m hurdles, Michael Letterlough (boys’
U17 discus) and Robert Ibeh getting three in the 100m, 100m hurdles and long
jump.

Letterlough took silver at the 2000
Games in Grenada, the only Cayman medallist. So too was Omar Wright in 2001 in
Barbados when he took silver in the boys’ U17 high jump.

Letterlough returned to the team in
2002 in Barbados, taking bronze in the U20 discus.

Trinidad hosted the 2003 Games but
Cayman did not medal.

At the next Games, Usain Bolt
established a junior world record in the U20 boys’ 200m in Bermuda.

Three silvers were earned by
Cayman; Ronald Forbes in the U20 400m hurdles, Omar Wright in the U20 high jump
and Carl Morgan in the men’s U20 javelin.

After an eight year drought, Cayman
got CARIFTA gold again through Carl’s twin brother Carlos who won the U20
javelin in Tobago in 2005.

Carl Morgan took bronze in the U20
long jump and Richard Ibeh, Robert’s brother, got silver in the U17 boys’
discus.

Alexandra Terry went to Martinique
in 2006 and threw discus silver in the girls’ U17 division, Cayman’s only
medal.

Three silvers were captured in 2007
in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Kemar Hyman got one in the U20 men’s 200m, Shane
Evans in the U20 men’s shot put and Terry again in the discus.

When CARIFTA went to St Kitts the
following year, Travis Webb was the sole Cayman hero, bringing home a bronze in
the boys’ U17 high jump.

Chantelle Morrison earned bronze
last year in St Lucia in the girls’ U17 100m behind two exceptionally swift
Jamaicans. Morrison is favourite for the title this year as the Jamaicans have
moved up an age group. It would be fitting for her to do it on home soil.

Cayman only had confirmation that
they would host these Games a few months ago when the US Virgin Islands
withdrew staging the 2010 tournament.

So between the athletics
association president, Rayle Roberts, himself a former CARIFTA competitor,
Delroy Murray, his predecessor and the likes of Evelyn Rockett, Wason Harcourt
and Elizabeth Ibeh, they are frantically preparing with main coaches Kenrick
Williams and Tyrone Yen for the event from 3-5 April.

Morrison, Terry, Webb and Ashleigh
Nalty are the most experienced, but plenty of other young hopefuls will be
vying to make a name for themselves too.

SPORTSkareemSTORY

Kareem’s records still stand.
Ron Shillingford