Tough task for Bajans at Carifta
DEVONSHIRE, Bermuda – Team Barbados will face a tough task matching or surpassing last year’s medal total of 27 (nine gold, eight silver, ten bronze) when the 2012 LIME CARIFTA Games get underway this morning at the National Sports Centre in Bermuda.
The weather, while it is cold and windy, can’t be used as an excuse. Everyone will have to compete in the same conditions and how each athlete responds will determine how he or she performs.
Several athletes like Akela Jones, Jerrad Mason, Kion Joseph, Tramaine Maloney, Shakera Hall, Charles Greaves and Deon Hope were at the World Youth Championships in France last year and those who attended the Commonwealth Youth Olympics got a taste of competing in adverse conditions.
For the others, this should be yet another learning experience as the sun won’t always be shining where they go.
Traditionally, Barbados have been slow starters on Day 1. While the official athlete event list hasn’t been released due to communication problems with Bermuda, among those expected to be competing today are Rhys Phillips in the heptathlon; Ramarco Thompson, Tia-Adana Belle, young Tiana Bowen, Ariel Jackson and Nikolai Gall in the 400 metres; Greaves in the triple jump and Romario Antoine in the discus.
Belle and Jackson both clocked 55 seconds prior to leaving home and that form could put Belle on the podium.
Barbados didn’t win any medals in the 100 and 200 metres last year, but much is expected of newcomer Mario Burke (10.77 and 21.64) in the former event. Trinidad’s Jonathan Holder clocked 10.68 and Jamaica’s Michael O’Haro was timed at 10.73 at their high school championships, but Burke hasn’t been pushed yet so no one quite knows how fast he can go.
Sprinter Levi Cadogan has moved up to the Under-20 division but both he and Hope will need personal best performances to match defending champion Jazeel Murphy, who clocked 10.74 with a 4.4 headwind at the Jamaica Trials.
Newcomer Raheem Skinner will be in the Under-17 Boys’ 1 500 metres and he will also face a big test.
Last year Barbados made a bold statement on track during the 800 metres but they have yielded some ground to the other countries this year.
Pius Emilien will be the face in the Under-17 division with Mason, last year’s champion who is now in the Under-20s with John Haynes, looking to follow in the footsteps of missing champion Anthonio Mascoll.
Cindy Forde won’t be making the trip after winning the Under-17 Girls’ 800 metres last year, but Sonia Gaskin, last year’s silver medallist in the Under-20 division, is much stronger and that race should be one to watch.
The intermediate hurdlers, led by Pan Am and Commonwealth Youth bronze medallist Joseph and Maloney should give a good account of themselves. Thompson should also be among the medallists but Hall could face a baptism of fire in her first year in the senior division, as could Shani Adams.
Danielle Scantlebury and Allana Ince will also have to go much faster in the 300-metre hurdles.
In the field, Greaves and Jalisa Burrowes will be in action in the long jump, and the Boys’ 4×100-metre relay teams should be exciting to watch.
Jones also faces a tough challenge from Jamaicans Chanice Porter and Petergaye Reid in the jumps, but she hates losing and always rises to the challenge on the big stage.
Barbados have traditionally done well in the sprint hurdles so Raphael Jordan, Maloney, Michael Nicholls and Scantlebury are expected to do well. Hall has been getting faster but much will be expected of Sade-Mariah Greenidge, who was second last year and has a personal best time of 13.48 seconds this season.
Javelin throwers Janeil Craigg and Nicoliai Bovelle have been doing well at home but they have to come up against Trinidad’s Keshorn Walcott, who is already throwing almost 80 metres, so they may have to settle for the lower medals.
The track reportedly has good bounce and grip and the scene has been set for the region’s best athletes to perform.