Cayman’s track and field athletes set off Saturday morning at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex for the Cayman Islands Athletics Association’s first CARIFTA prep meet. No athletes met Cayman’s CARIFTA qualifying marks at the meet but Cayman national coach Kenrick Williams said the athletes will have several opportunities to make the standard.

Under 20 Boys 100 Meter Dash. Photo: Seaford Russell Jr.

“The purpose of the meet is to get as much kids to qualify as early as possible,” said Williams.

“If you look down in Jamaica and around the Caribbean, most of the meets start in the first week of January, and some others start in December, and currently in the States, they have indoor {meets] going on. After this, we only have about five or six more meets to get the athletes to meet the qualifying standards, so, what we are doing now is prepping them.”

Javelin thrower Rachel Pascal qualified for the CARIFTA meet at the Odd Meet on 11 Jan. This year’s CARIFTA event takes place in April in Bermuda.

A record 52 track and field athletes represented Cayman at last year’s games, held on home soil. However, many of those athletes did not make the qualifying standard, and Cayman walked away with only two medals from the event. Williams said this year will be a different story.

“It doesn’t matter how large the team is, what we are looking for is quality, and if you can get a quality athlete, then we can look forward to podium positions, meaning first, second and third. It makes no sense to [send] 30 athletes to Bermuda and, in the long run, only one can give you a medal and the rest drop out before the semi-finals or the final.”

He added, “Ten years ago, we were making the finals and semi-finals and, right up to the podium, getting seven medals, five medals, and that shouldn’t change because the qualifying standards basically remain the same. So, it’s up to us coaches to really put the work into the kids and let them deliver the goods.”