Keshorn Walcott may have had more of an effect on Caribbean javelin throwing than he could ever have imagined, as demonstrated by the performances in this event at the three-day 2016 Carifta Games in Grenada, which ended on Monday (28).
In 2012, the Trinidadian became Carifta champion in the U20 men’s javelin with a meeting record of 77.59m. He then went on to win at the IAAF World Junior Championships Barcelona 2012 and at the London 2012 Olympic Games, upsetting a strong field and making history.
Fast forward four years to the 45th edition of the Carifta Games, held at the new National Athletics Stadium in St George's, and the host nation’s Anderson Peters produced a winning throw of 78.28m in the second round on Saturday.
Previously a winner at under-17 and under-18 level at the Carifta Games, not only did Peters break the Games record, he also improved the Grenadian record, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States record, and put himself in the frame for a medal at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016.
"I want to become the first person from Grenada to qualify for the Olympics while training at home," said Peters, who also anchored his team to fourth place in the 4x100m relay. "The goal for this year was always 84-85 metres, and I think I can get that, get to World Juniors (IAAF World U20 Championships) and see what happens. After that, I will have to make a decision about whether to go to school or to become a professional athlete.”
Peters also earned the Austin Sealy Award as the best performer at the Games.
Great Scott, another javelin record
Another highlight of the Games came on the third day, when Grenada's Candesha Scott emulated her compatriot with a record throw in the U20 women’s javelin.
A bronze medallist the year before, Scott came in with the relatively modest personal best of 47.80m but improved to 51.13m, adding more than a metre to the Games record to punch her ticket to Bydgoszcz.
The Caribbean throws ‘revolution’ – advertising potential medal contenders at the IAAF World U20 Championships this summer – continued with a record in the U20 men’s shot as Jamaica's Warren Barrett pushed the 6kg ball out to 19.97m, bettering compatriot Ashinia Miller's 2011 effort of 19.47m and showing his intention to follow in the footsteps of world bronze medallist and compatriot O'Dayne Richards.
On the track, much of the attention was on Sada Williams of Barbados, who stamped her authority on the U20 400m, winning in 52.07 from defending champion Shaquania Dorsett from The Bahamas, who was second in 52.50.
Williams then ran a scintillating 22.72, albeit with a following wind of 2.4m/s, to take the 200m.
World youth 100m silver medallist Khalifa St Fort from Trinidad and Tobago fulfilled her role as favourite for the shorter sprint and won the U20 100m in 11.40 into a -2.7m/s headwind.
IAAF president Lord Sebastien Coe, visiting Grenada for the meeting, commented that the next Usain Bolt might well be found at the CARIFTA Games.
He could have been referring to Akeem Bloomfield, as the Jamaican ran 46.01 in breezy conditions to win the U20 men’s 400m from Pan American U20 champion Jamal Walton of Cayman Islands, who was second in 46.23.
He might also have been alluding to someone like Nigel Ellis, the Jamaican sprinter who won the U20 100m in 10.16 (1.4m/s). Ellis unfortunately false started in the 200m heats, leaving the way clear for Trinidad and Tobago's Akanni Hislop to win in 20.89, but with a gusting 4.5m/s breeze on his back.
In the U20 men’s triple jump, there was a bit of an upset as Jamaica's O'Brien Wasome bounded out to 16.09m to win, while Suriname’s defending champion and 2014 Youth Olympic Games winner Miguel van Assen failed to record a mark. Assen did, however, win the long jump with 7.66m.
In the U20 women’s horizontal jumps, France’s Yanis David, competing for Guadeloupe, won her fourth CARIFTA triple jump title in five years with 13.13m but then impressed when adding nine centimetres to the 27-year-old long jump record with her winning mark of 6.48m.
In the younger age groups, there was a Games record in the U18 boys' shot as Jamaica's Zico Campbell's putted 17.75m. The record fell too in the U18 boys' discus as Jamaica's Phillipe Barnet won with 60.44m, improving the previous record by more than six metres.
Tyriq Horsford of Trinidad and Tobago took the U18 boys' javelin with a record of 73.00m.
Records fell as well in the 400m hurdles, both to Jamaican athletes. Shiann Salmon, who also won the U18 high jump, won her 400m hurdles final in 59.50 while Shannon Kalawan took the U20 title in 56.29.
Another record fell to Jamaica in the U18 boys' 4x100m with Christopher Taylor, Jhevaughn Matherson, Michael Stephens, and Dejour Russell winning in 40.40.
At the conclusion of the Games on Monday evening, the Carifta flag was handed to 2017 hosts Curacao and the 600-plus athletes from 26 nations and territories danced on the infield to calypso and reggae music, and the Junkanoo drums, before the three-day carnival of athletics came to an end with a brilliant fireworks display.
Terry Finisterre for the IAAF