Journos loved it

The visiting sports journalists for
CARIFTA on the whole were impressed with the organisation and presentation of
the Games at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex last weekend.

One of them was Sherrylyn Toppin, a
photo-journalist with The Nation Publishing who specialises in swimming,
netball, athletics and tennis.

She has been covering track
CARIFTAs since Martinique in 1999 and has only missed one – 2006 when she returned
to education to complete her masters.

“I find that the competition has
been good,” Toppin said. “We had about six records in the first two days, but
the atmosphere is not as good as other places I’ve been to.

“I find here that people tend to
sit in the stands and you have to gee them up as opposed to them doing it from
their own excitement.

“Compared to our track at home this
is great. Our track is in an absolute mess and it’s amazing that our athletes
can qualify and even come here and perform the way they do given the facility
we have at home.

“Even though there isn’t a lot of
space when you host something this big, yes it is adequate for what happens
here in the Cayman Islands, so really it is a very good facility.

“This is my first trip and there
haven’t really been many places I’ve seen except the stadium and my hotel. I
did go along Seven Mile Beach a few times but in terms of seeing Grand Cayman
there really hasn’t been an opportunity for that.

“I find the people are very
helpful. It’s almost like being in Barbados. They see you and say ‘good
morning’ and have a ready smile.”

Lennox Devonish is also a
photo-journalist from Barbados who for the last 15 years has lived in New York
and is now freelancing in Barbados. He mainly freelances for the Barbados
Nation newspaper.  

This was his first CARIFTA since
the Nineties. He was a great example of the benefits of sports tourism as he
bought a camera lens from Cathy Church’s for around $1,700.

Devonish said: “I think some of the
Barbadian athletes are very disappointing in accordance to how we’re accustomed
to seeing them perform. I don’t know what it is, if it’s the Cayman Islands!

“I think there are certain things
here I would have changed, like photographers around the long jump.

“When a person is coming down the
stretch you have a whole wall of photographers. I think that limits the jumper
and they feel they are going to run right into the photographers.

“The organisers need to sit down
and work these things out with the photographers. They are just interested in
satisfying the sponsors but they need to plan it with photographers.

“If the public relations side is
not best worked out for photography so that the millions watching on TV and see
reports in newspapers you will not get the best shots.

“Around 10 countries are going to
go home without medals. That is very disappointing. Jamaica and the
Trinidadians are dominating the podium.

“But what people need to realise is
that when Jamaica has its schools championships, the number of people in the stadium
(30,000) is more than some of the smallest islands.

“So they have a bigger pool to draw
from. My point is don’t be too hard on the smaller countries that didn’t medal. 

“I’ve enjoyed Cayman. This is my
first time. Everything is like Barbados, the sun, the sea, the fish.

“There aren’t so many Jamaicans in
Barbados though. There are more Jamaicans here than anywhere else in the

So does he dislike Jamaicans? “I’m
married to a Jamaican, so what do you think!”


Toppin and Devonish enjoyed covering CARIFTA here.
Photo: Ron Shillingford