Fourteen of Cayman’s best track and field athletes competed against the region’s elite at the 2016 Carifta Games hosted in St. George’s, Grenada at the end of March.
The Cayman Islands track and field team pocketed two gold, three silver and two bronze medals in total.
Rasheem Brown, Lacee Barnes, Daneliz Thomas, Dominic Dyer and Jamal Walton garnered personal records and seven medals for team Cayman.
Securing bronze on the third day of the Under-18 Boys 110m hurdles was 16-year Rasheem Brown of Clifton Hunter High School. Brown, who has been running for nine years, started his Carifta training after Kenrick Williams, a Cayman track and field national coach, recognized the potential of the young athlete who, at the time, had been competing in inter-primary sports.
Brown, now a member of the Trinity Track Club, has represented Cayman at the Carifta games twice.
“My experience was very exciting, and [I was] nervous competing against regional athletes,” said Brown, who went on to set a personal record in the 110m hurdles, with a time of 14.05 seconds.
Last year, Brown finished seventh in the same event in Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis.
“I had faith and confidence in myself to qualify again,” he said. “I wanted a medal so bad, so I began training very hard to win a medal [and] yes it is my first Carifta medal.”
The year 11 student is most proud of representing Cayman at Carifta for the second time and believes that “having faith, confidence, and being motivated by last year’s performance” – in addition to training extensively – earned him his first medal.
His least favorite experience at Carifta was watching a teammate get fouled in the long jump event.
“My favorite moment was when I won bronze and knowing that I made the seventh medal for the team on the last day was an
exciting moment for me,” said Brown.
Brown has been on a roll, having set a first personal best of the season in the qualifying trials.
“During my time to prepare for Carifta, I was working very hard and kept motivating myself to set a personal record,” he said.
At the trials, Brown ran a time of 14.15 seconds.
“I went to Carifta with a mind to run even faster,” said Brown.
He did just that.
“Track and field is a very competitive sport, and I’m a very strong competitor, and I see myself progressing in track and field,” he added.
Also winning Carifta medals was 16-year-old Lacee Barnes. On the first day of competition, Barnes earned the Cayman team its first medal by securing gold in the Under 18 Girls shot put with her record throw of 14.90m. The St. Ignatius Catholic student qualified in the trials with a throw of 13.89m.
Despite Barnes’s seed – or qualifying throw – being significantly lower than competitors such as Trinidad and Tobago’s Ianna Roach, whose qualifying throw was a 14.31m, or Aiko Jones of Jamaica with a 14.23m, Barnes managed to out-throw her competition when it mattered, while setting a personal and national junior record.
On day two, Barnes netted silver in the Under 18 Girls discus throw with a distance of 43.67m. With this throw, Barnes set another personal and national junior record.
Despite her gold in shot put, the discus event was Barnes’s favorite Carifta event.
Barnes got her start in field events when she competed in her first international meet, the 2012 Caribbean Union of Teachers games in Jamaica. “I’ve found a steady love for track and field,” said Barnes. “I love that it’s an individual sport where I can shine on my own, and it displays all my strengths.”
Training six days a week under coach Kenrick Williams, the HyTech Tigers Track Club member said she is proud to have won medals in both discus and shot put. “I am even happier that I got gold in my weaker event which is shot put,” she said.
After competing in Carifta for four years, Barnes had confidence coming into this year’s event. “I set two personal records in my two events, and it was not a shock,” she said. “I came ready to throw the best I could ever do out there and I did as such.”
Sixteen-year-old Daneliz Thomas won Cayman its second gold. The University College of the Cayman Islands student participated only in the Under-18 Girls Javelin Throw, and with her golden throw of 45.97m, she set both a personal and national junior record.
At 45.00m, Thomas went into the competition with the best qualifying throw among her competitors.
Thomas’s 2016 gold is her third Carifta medal. She picked up her first two for javelin in 2013 and 2014, winning bronze both times.
“This year, I went to Grenada to medal, and set a personal best, which I did,” said Thomas. “It was a great experience like it is every year, but this year I felt more confidence in myself. Every year the competition gets more competitive but this year I felt a lot stronger, and my mental state was prepared much better.”
Thomas is coached by Tyrone Yen, another Cayman track and field national coach, and Kenrick Williams, and she is a member of the Mustang Track Club.
“I find track and field is where I can come off on top in the future, and I feel I can get further with track and field,” Thomas said.
Seventeen-year-old Middle Distance Runners member Dominic Dyer of Cayman Prep secured two medals at the regional games. Coached by Derek Larner, the Year 11 student took bronze in the Under-18 Boys 1,500m run, with a finishing time of 4:01.74 in day one. Dyer, who is usually seen running in South Sound, qualified for Carifta with a time of 4:06.00.
Being involved in track and field for three-and-a-half years and participating in the games since 2014, Dyer said he felt most proud of his bronze in the 1,500m. He won bronze in the 3,000m at Carifta 2015 and silver in the same event this year. With a seed time of 9:10.00 in the Under-18 Boys 3,000m run, Dyer finished second with a time of 9:06.33. Both of Dyer’s finishing times, in the 1,500m and 3,000m, are new personal and national junior records.
Last year, Dyer was the only track and field medalist at Carifta.
On day two, Jamal Walton earned Cayman silver in the Under 20 Boys 400m dash with a time of 47.53. He also qualified for the world juniors.
According to Coach Williams, this year’s track and field athletes performed better than before and “the quality of their medals, their performance, and their records” show that they have talent.
“They definitely were more focused this year,” he said. “They listened to their coaches more.”