It’s a significant year for track and field with the London Olympics approaching in July but for those hoping to compete in the Caribbean youth championships, aka CARIFTA, which runs over the Easter weekend, this is a crucial time too.
For one youngster, making the leap from one to the other in that short time is totally achievable. That’s because javelin specialist Alex Pascal, backed by his dad Richard, are pooling all their energy and resources to doing so.
“This summer I’m going to be training really, really hard because I’m trying to make the summer Olympic Games,” says Alex. “I’ve learnt a new schedule after training in Cuba so I’m just going to follow it and see what happens then.”
Pascal thinks he has a 70 per cent chance of making the London trip because two months ago he threw 73 metres at a practice meet. “Since then I’ve got stronger and my technique has improved. Now I just need the competition and I’m really sure I can do it.”
The Olympic qualifying ‘B’ mark is 79.5 metres and 82m for the ‘A’ standard but in local competition Pascal has only thrown in the mid to high 60s. He is still convinced that with the right training and competition, London is within his grasp.
First there is the CARIFTA challenge, in Bermuda from 6-9 April. Pascal is ranked No.2 in the Caribbean behind Trinidadian Keshom Walcott, the 19-year-old reigning CARIFTA champ. It shows Pascal’s potential that he has two more years at CARIFTA in the Under-20s after this one. His nearest other rival is Adrian Williams from St Kitts who won the Under-17s last year.
Next week Pascal will compete in a meet in North Carolina against adults. “There will be a lot of throwers who are throwing high 70s so it will give me good competition.
“Since returning from Cuba I now train twice a day instead of once and six days instead of five. I’m also studying engineering at UCCI.”
Pascal hopes to get a college place later this year. He hopes that CUC will sponsor him because his firefighter dad is his main sponsor at the moment.
After next week’s meet at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Pascal intends to compete at the Raleigh Relay in North Carolina from 29-31 March. Also lined up are the Penn Relays in Philadelphia at the end of April, the Georgia Tech Invite in May and then a throwers’ meet in Florida in June. Richard Pascal says: “Our goal is to try to go to Cuba for javelin camp every other week, say Friday to Sunday with two training session per day. These track meets and camps will help improve Alex’s skills.
“He will also gain more exposure to international competition and the experience that he needs to prepare mentally and physically.”
After CARIFTA Alex will compete at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships, in El Salvador, the National Association of College Athletes Under-23 Championships in Mexico and then the World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain in mid-July.
With the right funding and if all goes according to plan, Pascal could make that magic Olympic mark in good time to prepare thoroughly for London.
Pascal easily won his event at the track meet at the CUC two day meet at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Saturday.
Chantelle Morrison is coming out of an injury-plagued couple of years since winning the 100 metres here in 2010. She won the 200m in 26.20 seconds ahead of Ameilia Gillispie (26.60secs) and Shayla Torres (27.74secs). Morrison was second in the 400m in 64.80secs, won by Dee-An Foster in 62.57secs.
Gillispie of the Brac Athletic Club won the 100m on Friday night in 12.78 with Torres second (12.86secs) and Hannah Tatum third (13.47secs).
Tiffany Cole is only 15 but she won the adult 800m and 1500m and if she runs the Irish Jog on Friday could be amongst the first female finishers, as she was last year. Ashleigh Nalty boosted her medal expectations at CARIFTA with a 1.70m high jump.
Sprinter Ryhmiech Adolphus has hopes of getting to the London Games too. He easily won the 100m in 10.78secs, ahead of CARIFTA-bound athlete Demetri Chambers (11.23secs) and Ashton Ebanks (11.43secs).
Chambers won the 200m in 22.92secs, ahead of Dwayne Anglin-Folkes (23.32secs) and Damion Rose (23.36secs).
Watched by sprint queen Cydonie Mothersill on Saturday, other notable performances came from Mikayla McLaughlin, Pearl Morgan. Kyel West, Brendon Buchanan, Tahj Lewis, David Shibli, Kiara McLaughlin, Jeavhon Jackson and Louie Gordon.
Top achievement at the meet was seeing Jorel Bellefonte cruise to victory in the 800m, 1500m and 3,000m. Bellafonte effectively used the races as training runs in preparation for CARIFTA. Triathlete champion Marius Acker ran in all three and was soundly beaten by the teenager but having surfed for two hours on Saturday morning, it’s a surprise his legs had anything left for the 800m and 3,000m after. The 1500m was run the previous night.