CARIFTA 2019: Jamaica hopes to lead medal count

Briana Williams, the world’s fastest junior female, is expected to lead the way for Jamaica at the CARIFTA Games in Cayman.

Several of Jamaica’s top athletes will miss the 48th annual CARIFTA Games, but the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association is confident the team will once again top the medal standing when the meet takes place this Easter weekend, April 20 to 22, at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in Grand Cayman.

The country, which produced the likes of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Yohan Black, has topped the medal table 41 times and its last defeat was in 1984 when the Bahamas won at home.

In 2018, team Jamaica earned 82 medals, including 43 gold, 28 silver and 11 bronze, in the Bahamas, four medals shy of the 86 they hauled in back in 2017, when they won 39 gold, 28 silver and 19 bronze, in Curacao. Their medal count in 2018 was 47 medals clear of their nearest rival, and host, the Bahamas, who had 35 – six gold, 14 silver and 15 bronze. Trinidad and Tobago placed third with 17 medals with four gold, six silver and seven bronze.

Garth Gayle, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association general secretary, said he is confident Jamaica will once again dominate based on the performances from the trials.

“When you look at the Trinidad, Barbados and Bahamas trials, 98% of our athletes are ahead by performances on the track and in the field. Once they are wearing their national colours, the Jamaican athletes always outperform and do well for their country, and so we are expecting the same this year,” he said.

Jamaica currently has four female athletes on the world 100-metre list, but they have all decided to skip the event. Ashanti Moore (11.17) and Kevona Davis (11.19), who are first and second, respectively, in the U20 division and twin sisters Tina Clayton (11.27) and Tia Clayton (11.37), who are first and third, respectively, on the U18 world list, will not be making the trip to Cayman.

However, the world’s fastest junior female, Briana Williams, is expected to lead the way for Jamaica. Williams, who made her mark by winning the sprint double at the 2018 World U20 Championships, enters the event as the overwhelming favourite. She won the U17 sprint double last year at CARIFTA and helped Jamaica to the 4x100m title, earning her the 2018 Austin Sealy award but says she is not sure if she will double at this year’s Games.

In the U20 boys 100m, with the world leader Oblique Seville at 10.13 and second on the world list this year, along with Ryiem Robertson at 10.19, Jamaica should face minimal problems in finishing first and second. Jeremy Farr and Wayne Pinnock are also world leaders in their events. Farr leads the world 400m list but will run the 200m, while Pinnock’s 8.05m personal best in the long jump should set him up for a win.

Kai Chang, a World U20 champion in discus, is another athlete expected to do great things in Cayman, and Ackera Nugent, who leads the world in the U20 girls’ 100m hurdles with 13.26, a personal best done at Jamaica’s trials, is likely to be untouchable.

Team Jamaica will make the short journey to Cayman with a full team of 80 athletes and 12 officials.

CARIFTA tickets for the Mackie Seymour Stand are still available for purchase at Funky Tang’s and all Reflections locations and also on www.caymancarifta2019.ky.

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