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JAMAICA CARIFTA Games 2004
A Few Shine Despite The Cold - Sunday 18, April-2004
by Sherrylyn Clarke
THE 2004 CARIFTA Games in Hamilton, Bermuda, started slowly, but came to an explosive climax with a world junior record on the final day.
Temperatures ranging from a cold, windy 16 degrees Celsius to a slightly warmer 24 degrees seemed to affect the athletes, many of whom performed below what they had done for the season.
Only two records were broken, in contrast to last year when there were 12 and 11 in 2002. They both took place on the final day when temperatures were much warmer.
Jamaican Usain Bolt stunned the crowd with a world-leading 19.93 seconds in the 200 metres, setting a world junior and CARIFTA record, sending a clear signal to his Olympic Games rivals. The other record was set by compatriot Kimberly Williams, with 12.53 metres in the Under-17 Girls’ triple jump.
Jamaica finished with 79 medals, Trinidad and Tobago 22 and Bahamas 21.
The five gold medals won this year are the most since 1998 and pushed Barbados into second place after Jamaica, but they were tied fourth overall with Grenada on 11.
The Barbados team underperformed at the meet. When the count is broken down, Dario Alleyne got three of the 11 medals. He is an exceptional athlete, proving he can compete with the best in the region, emerging with two gold and one silver medal.
He showed the grit and determination that many of his teammates seemed to lose after they made the team. It is true that it was cold, but athletes who dominated at inter-school sports seemed to be going through the motions and had some of their poorest times, totally outclassed by their regional peers.
Team captain Jesse King (14.68 seconds) also won gold in his personal best time and Sheldon Roach set a national junior record in the discus with 47.25 metres when he stunned the field. It was testimony to his strength that he dominated in his best event after placing last in the javelin and shot put.
Kyann Maynard also get a well-deserved gold in the javelin with 40.51 metres although she did not reach her personal goal of 45 metres.
Kudos also go out to the other medal winners Ronnie Griffith, who got silver in the 100-metre hurdles; bronze medallists Kierre Beckles (300-metre hurdles); Kimberly Stanford, in the 100-metre hurdles; the senior boys’ 4x100 metre relay team (King, Kristian Yearwood, Lorenzo Wickham and Ramon Gittens) and Ryan Ross, who won a smart race in the 1 500 metres.
But not only the medal winners deserve praise. Daley Harris had his best ever 16.22 metres in the Under-20 Boys’ shot put and set a national junior record. He, too, should feel pleased about rising above what he had done before.
Seidre Forde also improved in the triple jump but lost out on a bronze medal in the final round, while Akinwole Jordan showed he had the right attitude. He did not win a medal, but he went to finals and will improve with some speed work.
Many of the first-timers found the CARIFTA Games tougher than anticipated, but for too many Barbadian athletes, making the team seems to be their only goal. They forget that is the easiest part of the journey. They need to produce when they get to competition, regardless of the conditions they find.
Bermuda deserves high praise for hosting a fantastic meet after a 24-year lapse. The athletes had first-class accommodation at The Hamilton Princess and there were no complaints about the food. Transportation was also efficient and the meet generally ran on time.
Press facilities were top rate and have raised the bar for all subsequent meets. About six computers with Internet access were provided, along with a printer, and a designated area for interviews. Results also flowed – except after Bolt’s record when everything stopped – and the organising committee there did a fantastic job.
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