CARIFTA glory in sight

The Cayman Islands Athletic Association’s eight athletes for the CARIFTA Games 2011 in Jamaica this weekend is full of optimism.

The Games run from Saturday to Monday in Montego Bay and although Chantelle Morrison is missing because she failed to reach the qualifying time in the girls Under-20 100 metres, Cayman coaches and officials still see a potential three athletes bringing home four medals.

The squad consists of Ashleigh Nalty (girls U20 high jump), Travis Webb (boys U20 high jump), Alex Pascal (boys U20 javelin), Tiffany Cole (girls U17 800m and 1500m), Amelia Gillespie (girls U17 long jump), Gerome Bodden (boys U17 100m and 200m), Jonathan Frederick (boys U17 shot put and discus) and Jorel Bellafonte (boys 800m and 1500m). The coaches are Kenrick Williams and Yen. Team manager is Ventisha Conolly.

The main sponsor is again Caribbean Utilities Company and at a media reception last week CUC’s Pat Bynoe-Clarke represented her company and an encouraging speech was given by director of sports Collin Anglin who used the example set by Derek Redmond at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 to epitomise giving 100 per cent.

Redmond was competing in the 400m, pulled a hamstring half way round, but continued to the end, hobbling over the line with his father’s assistance to the roar of approval from the crowd.

Coach Yen is optimistic that Cayman can come back with some medals. “Two of our team won medals at the CUT Championships last year. They were Tiffany Cole who got a bronze in the 800m and Jonathan Frederick who got a silver in the shot.

“Ashleigh Nalty won a bronze in the high jump at the CAC Games and Jorel Bellafonte recently beat all the Jamaicans at their championships so we’re confident that he can be a contender in the 800m and 1500m.” Yen also anticipates Webb getting a high jump medal.

Rayle Roberts, president of the athletic association, said: “We hope to do to the Jamaicans what we they did to us last year when we hosted CARIFTA and create the excitement for them.

“I must say that the athletes this year seem to be a lot more focused and that is a direct correlation to last year’s CARIFTA and many of them, especially Ashleigh not doing what she wanted to do is looking at this as a second chance.

“All the athletes are competition ready. We didn’t set low standards this time which is why the team is so small. So if they do their best or above expectations they should be close to getting medals.”