Turks & CaicosFive more records fell on the final day (9 Apr) of CARIFTA XXXVI, and champions Jamaica claimed their 24th team title, with a record medal total of 76 awards.
With plenty of boisterous support for the first-ever CARIFTA Games in a territory that was once governed by Jamaica, their supporters brought the island of Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos (TCI) well and truly alive. Not to be outdone in support of the Games, the closest territory to TCI, the Bahamas also had a sizeable fan contingent, including a Junkanoo band.
The two nations with closest ties to the host nation happen to be among the most prominent in Caribbean athletics. But on the medal rostrum it was no contest, as Jamaica's medal haul included 36 gold medals, 28 silver and 12 bronze. Trinidad & Tobago, with 19 medals, had an excellent showing for second; seven gold medals, 14 silver, 16 bronze. Barbados (7, 4, 10) was third with 21; Bahamas (7, 4, 8) fourth; Martinique (3, 4, 5) fifth. St Lucia had two gold and one silver medal, Grenada two gold and a bronze. British Virgin Islands had their best-ever CARIFTA, with a gold and two silver medals. TCI became just the first host territory not to pick up a medal.
Jamaica resets 4x400m relay record
On a rainy day in Provo, Jamaica swept the 4x400m relays, including an under-20 men's race that was so hotly contested, the officials needed to confer after the last team crossed the finish line. Ramone McKenzie crossed the finish line first, in a meet-record 3:07.10, just ahead of the Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) anchor (3:07.11) but the track steward had his flag up. Some jostling in the last bend called the result into question, but eventually it was decided that the Jamaicans had not in fact infringed on the rules.
Thus, Jamaica - as well as T&T - ran down to the wire and ran just under the record time of 3:07.75 established by last year's Jamaica team of Jair Francis, Allodin Fotergill, Josef Robertson and Tarik Edwards, from which team only Robertson remained. Coming in for the bronze medal and stopping the clock at 3:09.28 was the Bahamas team.
Jamaica's under-20 women won in less dramatic fashion, taking the 4x400m gold medal in 3:36.26 from Trinidad & Tobago (3:42.79) and Martinique (3:48.78). The under-17 men's race was won almost as comfortably, Jamaica timed at 3:16.31, as compared to 3:18.84 and 3:22.57 for their challengers from Bahamas and Trinidad & Tobago, respectively. And the girls' race in that division produced a 3:43.79 win for Jamacia, with Trinidad & Tobago (3:46.40) and Bahamas (3:50.87) sharing the podium.
Brathwaite in record form again
Coming into the meet, one of the keenly anticipated races would have been the under-20 men's 110m Hurdles, pitting 19-year-old defending champion, World Junior champion medallist and CARIFTA record holder Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados against Jamaica's 18-year-old Keiron Stewart. Last year's record time of 13.85 seconds was never going to cut it, though, with both men having run much faster than that later on in the 2006 season and again this year. Jamaica's 2006 silver medallist Andre Collins was also in the mix.
And in the event, it was Collins who matched the existing record for bronze, while Brathwaite and Stewart battled it out half a step ahead of him. Appearing to have taken half a step on Brathwaite early on, Stewart fell away ever so slightly after the third flight, whilst the Barbadian got into an impeccable rhythm to finish in 13.42 seconds, another title, another CARIFTA record. It was no surprise, given that Brathwaite had earlier lowered the Games record in the morning heats.
Coming in second, a mere five hundredths of a second off the pace, Keiron did establish a new Jamaica national junior record. Having established the previous record of 13.53 earlier this year, and having run Brathwaite so close in Provo, Stewart must be looking forward to the rematch at Pan Am Juniors in Fortaleza, Brazil, this summer. In the back of his mind would also be the fact that he has another year at CARIFTA, as well as a crack at next year's World Junior Championships.
Williams also sets new hurdles mark
The more highly-touted of Jamaica's two under-20 female sprint hurdlers, Natasha Ruddock, left her teammate, Shermaine Williams, "a bit nervous," as did Krystal Bodie of the Bahamas. So, too, should Kierre Beckles of Barbados have. But before the gun eventually went, Bodie went, one of two victims of the false start. And once the five remaining athletes got off to a clean start, it was only ever going to be Williams, whose 13.51 beat the 13.57 meet record set by Martinique's Adriana Lamalle in 2000.
Williams, along with Beckles and Bodie eligible for this year's World Youth Championships in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia, said she was gunning for 13.6, but the new meet record and a personal record will have been a pleasant surprise. Ruddock ran 13.95 for second place, sealing the top spots for Jamaica.
Barbados' Beckles, whose form in this event has not been the very best so far for the 2007 season, ran a season-best 14.03 to claim bronze for Bimshire, one of their seven day three medals.
In the under-17 men's 100m Hurdles, Kimarcley Henry of Jamaica was the clear winner in 13.28 seconds, after race leader Aaron Wilmore of the Bahamas fell out of contention when he stumbled on the ninth flight. But the real race was for the silver medal, with two athletes on 13.39 seconds. After the photo-finish judge consulted his cameras, Greggmar Swift of Barbados was determined to have run 13.384, six thousandths of a second ahead of Jamaica's D'Omar Boyden.
Martinique's Jessica Alcan, a bronze medallist in the under-17 100m Hurdles last year in Guadeloupe, climbed to the top of the podium with a personal-best mark of 13.67, a huge improvement from her 14.28 in Les Abymes in 2006. 300m Hurdles champion Lanice Hall had been expected to do well for Jamaica, and did, taking silver. But her run of 14.19 was well short of Alcan. Little Kenrisha Brathwaite of Barbados took her second Hurdles medal at this meet, a personal record run of 14.39 earning the 14-year-old bronze.
Double gold, double record for Lee
The younger of Jamaica's two new sprint sensations, Dexter Lee followed up his record breaking 10.34-second 100m dash victory with another gold medal and another meet record on Monday. His 200m victory in 21.09 seconds erased the previous under-17 CARIFTA record of 21.12 established by World Junior record holder Usain Bolt in 2002. Lee beat fellow Jamaican Jermaine Brown (21.25) for gold, with Trinidad & Tobago's Shermund Allsop (21.78) taking third.
A loaded field in the under-17 women succumbed to Jamaica's Antonique Campbell. The silver medallist in the 100m, Antonique ran 23.78 to lead Deneisha Morris (23.87) in a Jamaica 1-2. Mara Weekes, who had already captured the 400m title in Provo, came third in 24.17 for Barbados.
Fresh from leading her Bahamas team to a 4x100m victory on Sunday night, Nivea Smith picked up right where she left off in the under-17 divison, running 23.45 to capture the under-20 title. Britney St Louis of Trinidad & Tobago ran 23.68 for second, whilst 100m champion Shakera Reese of Barbados and Grenada's Janelle Rehdead both crossed the line in 23.75, prompting the need for the photo-finish cameras to determine that Reese had breasted the tape first.
The crowd lost the chance to see defending 200m under-20 champion Yohan Blake try to emulate Dexter Lee, with a double win and double record, but Ramone McKenzie won the event in 20.58 to uphold Jamaican pride. Kemar Hyman of the Cayman Islands ran a distant 21.10 for second, and Trinidad & Tobago's Jovon Toppin ran 21.30 for third.
Goule doubles up again
She will have missed teammate Teneisha Davis, who helped push her to double records last year in Les Abymes. She will have been disappointed that the elements never gave her a chance to improve on at least her 800m mark. But Natoya Goule must be thrilled with her under-17 career, during which the young Jamacian has become the dominant middle distance runner in her class. Adding to her 1500m title from the meet's opening day, Goule crossed the line in 2:11.68 to win the 800m run.
Who's to tell what might have happened but for the heavy rain that plagued the evening session?
Last year Goule ran 2:09.59, a CARIFTA record. Jessica James of Trinidad & Tobago was second in 2:14.89, whilst Barbados' Sade Sealy's 2:15.65 owed much to her finishing speed. After she had been passed by Mackola Joseph on the home straight, she came right back at her rival to edge her on the line and take third by a split second.
Keno Haven and Vanessa Boyd took the top two medals in the two-lap race in the senior division. Last year's silver medallist, Heaven clocked 2:11.66 to wn the event, with Boyd (2:12.16) second, both for Jamaica. Martinique's Cynthia Anais turned in a time of 2:12.68 for bronze.
Jamaica opted against trying to get under-17 1500m / 3000m champion, Kemoy Campbell, to chase the "Nero treble," keeping him out of the two-lap race. Kenne Whitfield Wallace of the Bahamas took full advantage, running 1:58.91 for gold. Jamaica's Donahue Williams (1:59.60) and Kadeem Smith of St Kitts-Nevis (2:00.14) also made the medals.
Nero himself won the Under-20 800 in 1:52.12, completing a successful transition to the senior ranks by beating Jamaican Theon O'Connor (1:52.73) and Dwayne Ferguson (1:52.74) of the Bahamas.
Agejan Robinson took the men's open 5000m run in 16:08.26 for Jamaica. Barbados' Christian Rock (16:13.58) was second, and Pierre Andre Baptiste Barreau ran 16:14.05 to collect Haiti's only medal at this meet.
Higgs misses out on jumps sweep
Lenyn Leonce won the under-17 men's Long Jump with a best distance of 6.99m, with wind recorded at 0.0 metres per second. The runway surface was in less than ideal condition due to rain, but on his penultimate trial and sitting in fourth, Lenyn "just had to do what I came to do. I just knew I had to put everything into that jump." Guadeloupe's Yohan Ferre finished out of the medals in fourth, and Bahamas' Raymond Higgs, already High Jump and Triple Jumo champion at these Games, twice cleared 6.83m to miss out on what would have been his third title. Dexter McKenzie of Jamaica (6.94m)was second after leading through four rounds. He also had the third best jump in this competition.
In just three years, Malone has become the British Virgin Island’s most successful CARIFTA Games athlete, seven medals. Monday, she won the under-17 Triple Jump title after finishing second last year. Her 12.29m effort came on the first trial of a consistent series that included three marksof at least 12m. St Lucia's Sandisha Antoine (12.11m) was second, with Guadeloupe's Cynthia Battah Aoufou (11.98m) taking third.
Ronson Small won the under-20 men's Triple Jump with a best mark of 15.43m for Barbados. Kyron Blaise cleared 15.34m to take second for Trinidad & Tobago. Martinique's Jeremie Varsovie (15.30m) was third, after finishing second last year. Defending champion Robert Peddler of Jamaica was a disappointing fifth, and 2006 under-17 Triple Jump champion Gerard Brown of Bahamas improved to 15.22m, but just failed to crack the medals in the senior division.
Misha-Gaye DaCosta cleared 1.74m to win the under-20 women's Jigh Jump for Jamaica. Guadeloupe's Karen Jean-Francois (1.71m) and Lyvie-Paola Laurent (1.65m) took the other medals.
Deandra is a triple champion
Under ideal circumstances, Barbados' Deandra Dottin could probably have chased down the 10-year-old under-17 women's Javelin Throw record of 43.66m, but she opted instead for an unbreakable record, a sweep of all three throws titles in her division. Already having secured gold in Shot Put and Discus Throw, the defending JT champion out-threw the competition by nearly three metres on her opening effort and went on to fling the spear 42.90m (twice) to become the first Barbadian ever to win all three throws.
As rain fell steadily, Laure Mongin of Martinique completed a consistent series to end with a best mark of 36.23m for silver. Barbados' Kyshona Knight was in fourth place up till her final trial, when a throw of 34.43m turned out to be beyond the reach of Martinique's Murielle Moscou.
In the morning session, the under-20 women's Javelin Throw had just four competitors, all but one of whom were entered in this event in Guadeloupe. Silver medallist last year, Jamaica's Tanesha Blair threw 43.64m for victory, a come-down for her from the 45.38m she threw in Les Abymes. Amanda Edwards, the CARIFTA rookie, had a best throw of 41.11m to earn Antigua-Barbuda a silver medal, whilst Trinidad & Tobago's Venice Frederick (34.29m) took bronze.
Two more record throws
Quincy Wilson would have pleased coach Albert King no end with his performances this Easter weekend. Already having established a new benchmark for under-17 Shot Put, the Trinidad & Tobago native toppled Jamaica's Linval Swaby from the top rung on the CARIFTA record ladder in the Discus Throw. Wilson threw past 50m on three occasions, his best mark of 52.79m easily surpassing the 48.86m thrown by Swaby in 1986. Commonwealth of Dominica's Dillon Simon (42.99m) and Trinidad & TObago's Richard Collingwood (42.36) took the other medals.
And whereas the majority of the weekend's 13 records fell on the fast track, another went in the senior men's Shot Put event. No surprise here, considering that defending Shot Put champion Raymond Brown had been pushing past 18m already this season. In fact, he may well consider his winning mark of 18.27m a bit disappointing, given that a mere 17.57m was his next best throw. Still, Gregory Gamyr's 2005 throw of 18.11m is now just the second-best throw ever n CARIFTA Shot Put.
There was a huge gap in class between Brown and his competition, though. The other medals in the under-20 men's Shot Put went to Shane Evans from the Cayman Islands, his best effort measuring 14.28m, and Emmanuel Stewart of Trinidad &Tobago, whose 14.10m was enough to earn him bronze.
On to Basseterre in 2008
Turks & Caicos won the bid for CARIFTA 2007 without even having a venue. The Games were the first occasion on which the newly-minted National Stadium was used, having been officially opened last week by a group of dignitaries that included IAAF President Lamine Diack and IAAF Council Member Neville "Teddy" McCook, who has hailed the Provo facility one of the top five in the Caribbean. Despite some difficulties with the elements, and with some help from Jamaican and Bahamian fans, TCI had a fine meet.
Now it's on to Basseterre, St Kitts-Nevis in 2008. That country, too, is yet to complete its stadium, but by all indications the Member Federation is working towards next Easter, and even the Association's website - http://www.sknaaa.com - has long indicated the eagerness of the Kittitian athletics fraternity to welcome the rest of the region.
Terry Finisterre for the IAAF
5th IAAF World Youth Championships - Age Categories: Only athletes aged 15, 16 or 17 on 31 December in the year of the competition (e.g. for the 2007 Championships, born in 1990, 1991 or 1992) may compete.
Full qualification standards can be found by clicking here