Bolt star of 2012
West Inddies won a world cricket crown for the first time in eight years while sprint superstar Usain Bolt laid claim to legendary status by once again attaining the dizzying heights of global stardom, to headline a remarkable year in Caribbean sport in 2012.
The mercurial Caribbean cricketers, led by St Lucian Darren Sammy captured the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka when they beat the hosts in a pulsating final, marked by a superlative match-winning knock from Jamaican Marlon Samuels.
Bolt dominated the track at the London Olympics, winning both the 100 and 200 metres to become the first ever athlete to successfully defend the titles.
The 26-year-old Jamaican delivered two spellbinding performances to write his name indelibly into the record books. His heroics earned him a second straight IAAF World Athlete-of-the-Year honour, and his fourth overall.
Bolt stormed to a new Olympic record of 9.63 seconds to beat compatriot Yohan Blake into second place on August 5.
Four days later, Bolt clinched the 200 metres in a season-best 19.32 seconds with Blake second again. With the victory, the long-striding genius carved out yet another place in history. Previously, eight men had achieved the Olympic sprint double but none had successfully defended and he was quick to label himself a living legend.
More outstanding for Jamaica was the fact that the country swept the podium spots, as new boy Warren Weir, claimed bronze. Bolt also covered himself in even more glory with his third gold medal, anchoring the sprint relay team of Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Blake to a new world record of 36.84 seconds.
Trinidad and Tobago’s team of Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callender and Richard Thompson picked up bronze behind the Americans, an effort that typified the twin-island republic’s outstanding campaign in London that yielded a record four medals.
It was underscored by teenager Keshorn Walcott who upset an otherwise experienced field and stunned the world by winning gold in the javelin with a throw of 84.58 metres.
With the victory, Walcott became the first athlete in 60 years from the Western Hemisphere to win gold in an Olympic javelin event. For Trinidad and Tobago, it was only their second ever Olympic gold medal behind Hasely Crawford who won the 100m at the 1976 Montreal Games.
Little known Lalonde Gordon snatched bronze in the men’s 400 metres and then joined the team of Jarrin Solomon, Ade Alleyne-Forte and Deon Lendore to also hand their country bronze in the 1600m relay.
A distinct Caribbean flavour was left all over the 400 metres as World champion Kirani James, 19, delivered Grenada’s first ever Olympic medal in a winning personal best 43.94 seconds. The time was a new Caribbean record and gave James the distinction of becoming the first non-American to break the 44-second barrier.
There was some disappointment on the women’s side as only Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce found the podium. The pint-sized 25-year-old clocked 10.75 seconds to win gold in the 100 metres, becoming the first non-American and first woman in 16 years to successfully defend an Olympic 100 metres title.
She also won silver medals in the 200 metres and the sprint relay, joining Sherone Simpson, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kerron Stewart to post a new national record of 41.41 seconds, as the Americans took gold.
The Games were not without controversy for the Caribbean as veteran St Kitts and Nevis sprinter Kim Collins and fellow national sprinter Tameka Williams were both expelled by their delegation. Collins was disciplined for breaking team rules and Williams was sent home after admitting to using a banned substance. Collins subsequently vowed never to compete for St Kitts again.
In April, Bahamian sprint queen Anthonique Strachan blazed to the sprint double at the CARIFTA Games in Bermuda and anchored the Bahamian sprint relay team for a third gold.
Jamaica again dominated the junior Games with 78 medals overall but conceded precious territory to the quickly improving Bahamians, who won three of the four relays in the Under-20 category including both sprints.
In May, there was also a changing of the guard in Caribbean football as CONCACAF, the continental governing body for the sport in North, Central America and the Caribbean, elected Caymanian Jeffrey Webb to head the organisation.
The 48-year-old banker replaced Trinidadian government minister Jack Warner who resigned in 2011 at the height of a cash-for-votes scandal that rocked Caribbean football. In May, the Caribbean Football Union elected Antiguan Gordon Derrick as president, also replacing Warner.
On the field, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz experienced mixed fortunes, reaching the final round of CONCACAF 2014 World Cup qualifiers but suffering the indignity of being ousted from the Caribbean Cup in Antigua. Cuba beat former champions Trinidad and Tobago, 1-0 in the final to win their first title.
Jamaican jockey Rajiv Maragh and his Barbadian counterpart Patrick Husbands kept the Caribbean highly visible in horseracing internationally, with big wins in the United States and Canada.
In November, the 27-year-old Maragh scored twice in the prestigious Breeders Cup at Santa Anita race track in California, winning the US$1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint with Groupie Doll and the US$500 000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint Stakes with Hightail.
Husbands captured the CAN$500 000 Prince of Wales Stakes in July, carrying Dixie Strike to victory in the second jewel of the celebrated Canadian Triple Crown series, before also winning the October US$400 000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland in Kentucky, with Spring in the Air.
At the CARIFTA Swimming Championships staged in Nassau in April, Guadeloupe topped the points standings.
Meanwhile, Jamaica maintained their stranglehold on hemispheric netball when they won the Americas Federation of Netball Associations Championship, in Trinidad in July while Barbados won the Jean Pierre Under-16 title in St Vincent. (CMC/EZS)