Tonique Williams (Bahamas Weekly)
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NOT ONLY Barbados will be looking beyond certain traditional track races to attain more medals at the Flow CARIFTA Games.
Like Barbados’ coach Alwyn Babb, The Bahamas’ first individual Olympic Games’ gold medallist Tonique Williams is also urging her country to look at the throws, jumps and distance races to limit Jamaica’s dominance at the region’s premier junior meet.
“What I dream about now is seeing our programme move to the next level where we are not just competing in the sprints but we are able to compete in some of the field and distance events,” Williams told NATIONSPORT in an interview at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium on the final day of the 47th CARIFTA Games in Nassau.
The 42-year-old Williams, who was the 2004 Athens Olympics women’s 400 metres champion, is now not only the vice-president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) but also a part-time coach.
“That’s what really separates us from Jamaica in this region and other regions and athletic programmes around the world. It is one of those things that I am working hard now to do so that our programme continues to shine,” declared the athlete-turned coach and administrator.
Bahamas, who were CARIFTA Games champions four times in 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984, finished second behind Jamaica with 35 medals (six gold, 14 silver and 15 bronze).
Jamaica were the runaway champions for the 34th consecutive year and 42nd time overall with 82 medals (44 gold, 27 silver and 11 bronze) but Williams believes The Bahamas can give them a challenge in the future.
“I definitely think so. We have won four times so it is not something that hasn’t been done before. We here in The Bahamas are always making sure we can keep Jamaica close or if we can beat them,” she said.
“I think again that we need to focus on our jumps and on our throws and our distance events because the track events, especially the sprints, we are doing a good job,” Williams said.
She singled out Bahamians Megan Moss and Doneisha Anderson, who won the Under-17 and Under-20 Girls’ 400 metres, respectively, as well as Joel Johnson and Adrian Curry, who swept the gold and silver medals in the marquee Under-20 Boys’ 100.
“I think in the sprint events, we are there, we can challenge them. I think it is the other part of our programme that we definitely need to work on. The goal is always to perform well in events that you are traditionally good at but also to expand to those events where you may not be good at because we have to cater to all of our athletes, whether, it is running, jumping or throwing as we’ve seen some of our Caribbean neighbours do well in events that they traditionally haven’t done,” she noted.
Williams, who also served as deputy chairperson of the local organising committee for the Games, was happy the Bahamas were able to successfully host the meet for a record eighth time.
“I think they went very well from an organisational perspective and also the way our athletes competed.
“I definitely thought the standard was high. When you look the 100 metres for women’s Under-17, Brianna Williams of Jamaica winning in 11.27 and then 23.11 seconds in the 200, no doubt that we brought the competition here. I think it is a legacy that will continue,” she said. (EZS)