Update Sunday evening:
Draped in the Caymanian flag, with a bronze medal hanging around her neck, Rachell Pascal reflected on a proud moment in her burgeoning athletic career.
“It feels great,” said the 14-year-old after receiving her medal Sunday night following a third place finish in the javelin earlier the same day.
Pascal follows in the footsteps of her older brother Alex Pascal, who won gold at CARIFTA in the same event in 2013.
She said her brother had been an inspiration to her. He was in the crowd Sunday along with her parents as she threw 35.5 metres to take Cayman’s first official medal of the games.
She said it was an amazing feeling to perform so well in front of a home crowd.
“Cayman is like a big family to me,” she said. “Everyone up there was helping me and cheering me on.”
Aijah Lewis also picked up a bronze medal Sunday night, getting her moment on the podium, in front of a packed crowd on another raucous night at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
Lewis jumped 1.6 metres to finish third in the high jump on Saturday. It is not clear if the medal will count towards Cayman’s official tally, however, as there were only three competitors in the event.
Lewis said she was disappointed not to have the chance to test herself against a larger field, but was happy to pick up a medal on her last appearance at CARIFTA.
She said it was exhilarating to experience such a large home crowd cheering her on.
“Every time I look back at a CARIFTA games, I will always remember medalling in Cayman.”
There were high hopes for Michael Smikle in the men’s U-20 800 metres after a strong performance in the heats, but he finished seventh in the final with Jamaica’s Kimar Farquaharson taking gold.
“It was a tough race but I went out there and did my best and hopefully made Cayman proud. That is all that matters,” Smikle said afterwards.
Elsewhere Jaden Francis was a finalist for Cayman in the girls U-17 200 metres. But there was little else to cheer for the local athletes who now pin their hopes on strong performances in the relays Monday night.
There was plenty to celebrate for the large Jamaican contingent who tooted their horns and waved the famous green, black and yellow flag to celebrate win after win.
Brianna Williams was the star of the show again winning gold in the 200 metres on Sunday night – another for her collection, after her first place finish in the 100 metres on Saturday. Williams, who competes in the U-20 age category, clocked 22.89. It will surprise no one if she goes on to be Jamaica’s next great Olympic champ.
Jamaica’s Xavier Nairne took the men’s U-20 200m title.
There was a shock in the boy’s U-17 200 metres, however, with British Virgin Islands sprinter Jaleel Croal pipping two Jamaican sprinters for a surprise win. Croal even had time to punch the air in celebration as he crossed the line.
The final day of the three-day track meet takes place Monday.
By the end of day two, Jamaica was way out in front in the medals table with 57 overall, including 19 golds.
Bahamas is a long way back in second with 16 medals overall, including 9 golds and Trinidad and Tobago are third with 14 medals overall, including 3 golds.
Update Sunday afternoon:
Cayman took a bronze medal in the women’s U-17 javelin, Sunday morning.
Rachell Pascal finished third in the event with a throw of 35.5 metres.
It is technically Cayman’s second medal of the games, though it is not clear at this point if Aijah Lewis’ high jump bronze will count towards the final medal table standings, as there were just three competitors in that event.
It was a good morning though for Cayman with Jaden Francis finishing third in her heat to progress to the finals of the 200m sprint in the U-17 age category. Monique Gordon just missed out in the same event.
Michael Smikle also made it through to the finals in the boys U-20 800m, finishing second in his heat.
Errol Smith fell just five-hundredths of a second short of qualifying in the men’s U-17 200m event. Neil Brown McLennon also came close but just missed out on the finals.
Kashief Dawkins and Maliek Copeland were just outside the qualifying times in the men’s U-20 200m.
Update Saturday at 11 p.m.:
High jumper Louis Gordon came within centimetres of giving the Cayman Islands its second medal of CARIFTA 2019 as the annual track and field festival got into full swing in front of a joyful crowd at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex Saturday night.
The stands shook to the sound of the Bahamian Junkanoo band as thousands of track fans from across the Caribbean gathered to cheer on their athletes on day one of the event.
Earlier in the day Aijah Lewis got Cayman on the board, taking bronze in the women’s Under-20 high jump. And Gordon almost made it a double, as he put in a valiant performance to finish fourth in the boy’s Under-20 high jump. The 19-year-old made the first few jumps look easy, matching the Jamaican and Bahamian athletes jump for jump as the bar inched upwards. But with a personal best of 2.14m required to make the podium, he fell just short in a tense finale.
Bahamian Shaun Miller ultimately took gold with a jump of 2.16m. Gordon was fourth with 2.11.
Afterwards, he said he was pleased to be one of Cayman’s top performer of the night but disappointed not to medal.
“I am disappointed in my final jump but to be able to perform in front of my home crowd is a good feeling,” he said.
Levi Superville also came close to the podium in the Under-17 men’s 1500m, charging from the back of the pack to put himself in contention in the home strait. In the final lap, he looked to be within a chance of a medal, but ultimately finished sixth – less than two seconds outside the top three. Superville was one of several athletes to collapse over the line in near-exhaustion after a hard fought race.
He said, “I was going pretty good. I tried to push it to get a medal on the last 300 but I ran out of energy with 100 to go.”
Victor Maghalaes also took sixth in the U-20 men’s 1500m, while Wyatt Bodden was 8th in the same race. Jaden Francis also finished sixth in the U-17 women’s 400m.
Elsewhere it was the perennial track kings Jamaica, Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago that dominated.
In the sprints, the packed crowd got a glimpse of some potential future Olympic champions.
Unsurprisingly, it was the Jamaicans that excelled. Oblique Seville took gold in the men’s 100m in a scorching time of 10.24, with fellow Jamaican Riyem Robertson second and the Bahamas Adrian Curry in third.
Brianna Williams, the 17-year-old Jamaican sprint sensation, took gold in the women’s U-20 100m final in 11.25.
Williams, who is being hyped as a future Olympic star, said it was great to be a CARIFTA champion.
“I am very proud of what I did today. I love coming back to CARIFTA. I remember my first time. I was like a nobody and now … I just love this,” she said.
She said her next target was to make Jamaica’s World Championship team.
Trinidad’s Devine Augustine ran 10.62 to take the men’s U-17 gold in the 100m, while the Bahamas’ Anthaya Charlton won the women’s event in 11.51.
Throughout the night there was a party atmosphere in the stands with the flags of all the participating countries flying in unison. Fans from Cayman mingled with Jamaican, Bahamian and Trini supporters, among others, as the games opened in style.
The three-day track meet resumes Sunday morning at Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
Saturday morning update:
CARIFTA presents strong competition in opening day
It was a tough morning on the track for some of Cayman’s young athletes as CARIFTA 2019 got under way Saturday.
Joshua Cox, who qualified for the men’s 400m U-17 finals in a time of 51.87, was among the top local performers.
Ariyana Ebanks also put in a strong showing in the women’s U-17 shot put to finish seventh overall.
Elsewhere the islands’ athletes gave their best against strong competition from around the Caribbean.
Ashantae Graham came close in the U-17 women’s 100m and was one spot away from a place in the finals.
Jamaican sprint star Brianna Williams was the fastest qualifier in the U-20 women’s 100m, while Oblique Seville, also of Jamaica, was fastest for the men with an impressive time of 10.56.
The finals are scheduled today for 8 p.m.
For the Caymanians that did not progress, it was a valuable learning experience against the best in the region.
Jacob Kunzer, 16, faced stiff competition as he failed to progress in the men’s 400m U-20 heats.
He said, “I usually start slow and catch up but against this calibre of athlete, you have to be 100% the whole way. I will keep training and hopefully I will be on a par with them in the next few years.”
Tahan Rice,17, had a similar experience in his 400m heat.
“The competition is fierce. There is no one out there taking it easy,” he said.
Read more about CARIFTA 2019 here: