Cabrera back for Carifta meet
CARIFTA’S LATEST HOMECOMING will also mark Lani Cabrera’s return – and swansong.
After a two-year hiatus, the former multi-record holder is making a long awaited comeback to the regional junior meet here at home as the 26th edition of the CAFIRTA Swimming Championships are slated to swim off from April 23 to 26.
Cabrera’s inclusion in Barbados’ 18-member squad was announced by Barbados Amateur Swimming Association president Sonia O’Neal during the championships’ launch yesterday at the Aquatic Centre.
“Lani has a very good track record and I feel quite pleased she is back into regional competition because she will pose more than a formidable threat,” O’Neal expressed.
“This is her last year in CARIFTA and I hope she will go out with a bang.”
Last a competitor at the 2008 games in Aruba, Cabrera has missed the last two regional junior meets despite appearing on the local and regional circuit.
This after the then 14-year-old standout captured three gold medals at that CARIFTA meet while setting new national records in both the 400 metres individual medley and the 800 metres freestyle.
But the junior side has done well in her absence, especially her female counterparts, as last year’s squad returned with 48 medals to finish second overall with just 11 athletes.
“Her return will only increase our chances at improving our medal tally as she has always medalled at this level,” said O’Neal of Cabrera, who is training in Florida.
“Based on the times she posted in Florida it would seem to suggest she is back to top form so hopefully we can send her out with a bang.”
And while O’Neal anticipates an improvement in the medal haul, she knows one isn’t coming in the standings as Barbados lacks the depth to win it all.
“Our goal is to get as many medals as possible because we still don’t have a full team of 36 swimmers to contest the overall title,” she explained.
Barbados last won the championships 11 years ago at home while fielding a squad of 30 swimmers.
This year’s squad features 18 athletes, five of whom are newcomers led by Queen’s College first-former Hannah Gill.
Once again the strength of the team will be in the 13-14 Girls’ age group, which features The Lodge School’s Zabrina Holder, who finished with seven golds and 12 medals overall at the 2010 meet.
Standout performers Amara Gibbs, Inayah Sherry and Deandre Small also headline the depth of the division, while Boys’ 13-14 champion Christian Selby is expected to dominate his category for the second year running.
The 15-17 Girls’ age group is expected to be a strong one as well with the likes of Cabrera and Commonwealth Youth Games swimmer Lee-Ann Rose.
Coach Of The Year Danny Olalde Hernandez leads the team, which is assisted by Jose Aguero Mirando.
April’s championships will be a record eighth overall for Barbados, who last hosted the junior meet in 2006. The inaugural championships were held here in 1985 as the brainchild of CARIFTA track and field founding father Austin Sealy.
11-12 Girls: Sariyah Sherry, Ahlea Williams, Hannah Gill, Alexis Clarke,
13-14 Girls: Deandre Small, Amara Gibbs, Kimberley Willoughby, Zabrina Holder, Inayah Sherry
15-17 Girls: Lee-Ann Rose, Crystal Jordan-Browne, Lani Cabrera, Rebecca Clarke
11-12 Boys: Alex Sobers, Brandon Thompson
13-14 Boys: Christian Selby
15-17 Boys: Matthew Courtis, Russell Oliver.