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All eyes on CARIFTA

EZRA STUART, [email protected]

All eyes on CARIFTA

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WILLEMSTAD – Last year’s double gold medallist Jonathan Jones will spearhead Barbados’ medal hopes when the 46th Flow CARIFTA Games begin at Ergilio Hato Stadium (SDK) on Saturday with action on the track and field from 9 a.m.

All eyes will be on Jones in the Under-20 Boys’ 400 metres which he will be attempting for the first time at the CARIFTA level after winning the Under-18 Boys’ 800 and 1500 metres last year in Grenada.

Jones has a season’s best time of 46.92 seconds in the 400. He will not be competing in the 1500 metres.

Three other Barbadians, quarter-miler Antoni Hoyte-Small, sprinter Jaquone Hoyte and field competitor, Triston Gibbons are also gold medal prospects in Saturday’s Under-18 Boys’ 400 metres, the Under-20 Boys’ 100 and Under-20 Boys’ discus respectively.

The United States-based Tristan Evelyn will also be contesting the Under-20 Girls’ 100 metres while Hannah Connell and rookie Akayla Morris are entered in the Under-18 Girls’ 100 metres.

bloc-ezra-stuart-carifta-2017Other medal contenders for Barbados on the opening day when the 100, 400 and 1500 metres will be contested are sprinters Matthew Clarke and debutant Darian Clarke in the Under-18 Boys’ 100 and Under-20 javelin thrower Kalvin Marcus.

Also competing for Barbados on Saturday are debutante Shanice Hutson in the Under-18 shot put; Rio Williams and Roneldo Rock in the Under-20 and Under-18 Boys’ 1500 metres; Ondre Callender and Jonathan Miller in the Under-18 Boys’ long jump, Seth Edwards in the Under-20 Boys’ discus, first-timer Kyle Gale in the Under-18 Boys’ 400 metres and multi-eventer Aaron Worrell in the octathlon.

Worrell will actually be the first Barbadian on the track in the 100 metres. He will also contest three other events – the 400 metres, long jump and shot. 

The 28-member Barbados team, after a 90-minute delay with their charter flight, finally arrived in Curacao around midnight on Thursday but manager Angela Jackson said they have put that setback behind them.

“When you travel, you have unexpected delays but we are not focusing on that. The team is settling in and [the athletes] are in high spirits. We are here to do a job and that’s our focus right now,” she added.

She said the athletes went to the SDK Stadium in two groups on Friday for their only training sessions before the start of the Games.

Both Evelyn and fellow United States-based athlete Tai Brown, arrived ahead of the main party from Barbados.

After having a look at the track while the first group of Bajan athletes went through their paces, new head coach Adrian Thorne said he doesn’t expect many record-breaking times.

“No, I don’t think we are going to get any hot times but you have to wait and see. This is CARIFTA so anything will go. The guys will push the buttons and the guys will react. It is older than the track we have in Barbados so it may not be as quick,” he said.

Thorne reckons the wind could also be a factor in the performances.

“The guys [who were training] were telling me that the back is very breezy. The Stadium has seating all around but the stands are not high,” he said. 

Last year, Barbados gained 20 medals, which consisted of six gold, six silver and eight bronze to finish third behind perennial champions Jamaica and The Bahamas.

Twenty-seven countries are participating in the Games, which are being held in Curacao for the first time.