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Medal goal for Barbados

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Medal goal for Barbados

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Barbados’ first goal at the 2012 LIME CARIFTA Games will be to improve on the medal haul the last time the athletics meet was held in Bermuda eight years ago.
On that occasion, Barbadian athletes won five gold, two silver and four bronze medals, led by sprinter Dario Alleyne with two gold medals in the Under-17 boys’ 200 and 400 metres.
Kyann Maynard, who won a gold medal in the Under-17 girls’ javelin, was the only athlete with previous CARIFTA experience in that age group. Among the newcomers were Akinwole Jordan, Sheldon Roach, Ronson Small and Alex Straughn.
Also making her debut was 13-year-old hurdler Kierre Beckles who went on to win a bronze medal in the 300-metre hurdles, the start of a very good junior career.
The athletes seemed to be greatly affected by the weather and only began to perform to their true potential when the sun came out on the final day.
The weather may also be a factor on this occasion.
Those 11 medals were the low point for Barbados’ CARIFTA teams in Bermuda. In 1975, the team returned with 15 medals and 21 five years later.
Way back in 1975, long before any members of the present team were born, another generation of athletes was making a name for themselves on the regional stage.
Eric Berrie, who assists with the coaching of Under-20 debutant Ariel Jackson, was second in the Under-17 boys’ 200 metres (22.2) and 400 (52.6) and was third in the 100 metres in 11.4 seconds.
The standard of the games has reached such a high level, none of those times would even qualify Mario Burke who had to run 10.8 and 21.85 and the qualifying time for the 400 metres is 49 seconds flat.
Jennifer Gibson, who always ran with a wash cloth in her hands, was third in the Under-20 girls’ 800 metres in 2 minutes 20.6 and Cheryl Blackman took gold in the 100 metres hurdles in 14.8 seconds.
Last week, Sonia Gaskin clocked 2:10.83 to win the 800 metres at Inter-School Sports and Sade-Maria Greenidge did 13.48 seconds in the sprint hurdles.
Henderson Bayley won silver in the men’s javelin with 51.86m, but Janeil Craigg and Nicoliai Bovelle are both throwing almost 66 metres.
Mark Stoute was second in the senior boys’ sprint hurdles with 15.4 seconds and won the 400 metres hurdles in 55.3, but Raphael Jordan is almost a full second faster (14.17), while Kion Joseph (52.03) and Tramaine Maloney (52.12) are well ahead at the same age.
Noel Lynch was second in the 200 metres in 22.2 seconds and the boys are routinely running sub-21.
In 2004, Jamaican Usain Bolt clocked 19.93 seconds in the same event in Bermuda.
It was easier to do three events in those days as Olympian Richard Louis did double gold in the 200 and 400 and was second in the 100 metres. Marie Gill jumped 1.65m to win the Under-20 girls’ high jump, but the qualifying standard for the Under-17 girls’ is now 1.68m.  
Even the late Reuben Bayley would have struggled to make this team. He returned with gold in the 800 metres in 1 minute 54.8 seconds. Anthonio Mascoll, who unfortunately won’t be defending his gold medal, clocked 1:50.21 to win last year. Both John Haynes (1:52.75) and Jerrad Mason (1:53.82) are also faster than Bayley at this stage.
Now it is up to this generation of athletes to write their own chapter when the games are held on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.