The Cayman Islands Athletics Association team for the 2014 Carifta Games includes 14 athletes set to compete in Martinique this weekend.
It is largely an experienced team but also includes javelin specialist Daneliz Thomas who last year went to her first CARIFTA aged 14 just for the experience yet won bronze.
Middle distance runner Jorel Bellafonte who is based in Jamaica, is also expected to do well as he has been beating the finest Jamaicans for years in their championships.
The best medal haul Cayman has achieved was five in Guadeloupe in 1999.
CUC is the team’s main sponsor. At the announcement of the team at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Monday was Letitia Lawrence, a CUC vice-president who wished the athletes well. Also there was Director of Sports Collin Anglin.
Track technical director Kenrick Williams is upbeat about their medal chances, especially for Thomas. “Daneliz was third last year and the group remains the same and been training very hard and what we expect is probably a silver medal or gold.”
Williams also talked up the chances of Lacee Barnes who competes in the discus and shot, Denniston Thompson who competes in the high jump and long jump, high jumper Jacob Scott and sprinters Jamal Walton, Rashaun Conolly and Dominic Dyer.
Williams also mentioned that middle-distance runner Tahj Lewis, the team captain, was fifth last year and is in the same age group this time and is a definite medal prospect.
Kiara McLaughlin is in her first CARIFTA but has qualified in the girls Under-18 800 meters and 1500m. She too could make a podium place, Williams feels.
Since Cayman has hosted CARIFTA in 2010 and staged two Cayman Invitational meets that included Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Carmela Jetter twice, Williams said that there has been increased interest in the sport.
“The times these kids are posting now is an indirect result of trying to emulate some of these stars,” he said.
Williams mentioned that seasoned sprinter Tyrell Cuffy’s times are improving and he has even made the Commonwealth Games team for this summer’s tournament in Glasgow, Scotland.
Anglin commended the coaches as well as the athletes for achieving so much, considering the Truman Bodden track was being relaid at the start of the year and not available for training on for weeks.
Track President Dr. Dalton Watler said, “We have increased our standards as this year we are looking for quality and not quantity. Therefore, these athletes have worked very hard and committed themselves to reach the standards that were set.
“We are very pleased with this team, and watching all of them compete at the recent inter-secondary schools track meet and the CUC meet, I am very pleased with their performances and know that they are ready for the Games.”
He added he is looking for some good performances from these athletes and know that they will represent their country well and give 100 percent. “I am sure we will return with a few medals,” he said.
The team arrives in Martinique on Thursday, attends the opening ceremony on Friday and competes Saturday to Monday before returning on Tuesday.
It is largely an experienced team but does include javelin specialist Daneliz Thomas who last year went to her first CARIFTA aged 14 just for the experience yet won bronze.