The U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and Dominica may be fielding relatively small teams for the 48th annual CARIFTA games, but they will be coming with big medal expectations for the event, which will take place during Easter weekend (April 20-22) at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The USVI is looking to three athletes – Mikaela Smith, Ariana Edgar and Michelle Smith – for their athletic glory. Smith, who ran 2:26.64 and Edgar with 11.23m were finalists at CARIFTA 2018 in the U-20 girls 800m and U-17 girls shot put, respectively.
Chief Youth Coach Keith Smith said their training has been going well, and they are aiming to improve on their performances. Coach Smith also has high hopes for his young talent Michelle Smith, who is a medal contender in the U-17 girls 1500m. The 14- year-old athlete is now able to compete, since the age requirement for CARIFTA has been lowered to 13.
“I do believe that we can win one, possibly two medals this year,” said Smith. “Our athletes look forward to CARIFTA as an event to improve their performances, and also form friendships with other athletes from the Caribbean.”
In 2018, USVI won one medal, a silver, thanks to Evan Jones’ 4:02.93 effort in the U-20 boys’ 1500m.
British Virgin Islands
BVI has qualified eight athletes so far for CARIFTA. Twin brothers Diamante and Djimon Gumbs (shot put and discus U-20), Palesha Ceasar (discus U-17), Arianna Hayde (long jump U-20), Akrisa Eristee (400m U-17 female), Jaleel Croal (100 and 200m U-17), Kaelyaah Liburd (400m U-17 female) and Orlando Douglas (discus U-17) will travel to Cayman in April.
BVI track and field public relations officer Cleave Farrington believes the Gumb brothers, Eristee, Croal, Ceasar and Hayde are the frontrunners to bring home medals, and is predicting a possible three pieces of hardware for BVI this year. The island’s only CARIFTA medal is a bronze won by Rikkoi Braithwaite in the U-20 boys 100m in 2018, whose CARIFTA Games career is now over.
“They have all improved over the past few years, and most recently they improved on their personal best marks as well. They have the drive to succeed,” said Farrington.
Farrington also spoke about the importance of competitions such as CARIFTA, which is widely considered one of the best development meets in world athletics, attracting university coaches and scouts from the U.S. who attend each year to look at the up-and-coming talent in hopes of signing promising athletes to their track and field programmes.
“CARIFTA means a great deal to our country. It provides great opportunities for our athletes and prepares them for future higher games.”
Team Dominica was hoping for an impressive six medals at CARIFTA 2019, but their preparation has been hampered by lack of training facilities due to having to share the stadium with other sports. Godwin Dorsett, president of the Dominica Amateur Athletic Association, said they are hoping to get at least six more qualifiers at the end of the High School Championships, which takes place on 21 and March 22.
The team from the Nature Isle will be led by Ternesse Hamilton, who won two bronze medals in The Bahamas in 2018, first throwing 13.14m in the U-17 girls’ shot put and then 33.50m in the discus. Denill Linson is the other athlete from Dominica to qualify to date. He will compete in the U-20 boys 200m.
CARIFTA tickets are now on sale starting at $10. For more information about CARIFTA Cayman 2019 and to purchase tickets, visit www.caymanCARIFTA2019.ky.