Even though it is being called the strongest CARIFTA squad in recent memory, it is not as strong as it could be as the top high school hurdler in the country will be left at home.
Kirk Lewis, who represented The Bahamas on the world level last year, couldn't even get a nod on a regional level this year, despite improving his time drastically in the 110-meter (m) hurdles. The National High School Champion in the event fell four one hundredths of a second short of the qualifying standard that was put in place by the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA). He ran 14.34 seconds at the Scotiabank High School Nationals, and followed that up with a 14.36 second place run at the Colina CARIFTA Trials this past weekend. The BAAA qualifying standard is 14.30 seconds.
College athlete Patrick Bodie won the event at the CARIFTA Trials this past weekend in 14.27 seconds, and Lewis settled for second. Bodie was named to the team and Lewis, who was a part of The Bahamas'team that travelled to the International Association of Athletic Federations'(IAAF)World Youth Championships in Lille, France, last year, was left on the outside looking in, when the CARIFTA team was ratified on Sunday.
According to Lyndale Lewis, mother of Kirk, this is just another slighted action on behalf of the BAAA toward her son.
"This is just another matter of the BAAA rearing its ugly head. They are saying that all of the athletes on the team qualified but we found that not to be the case, and now the BAAA statistician is saying that it was an oversight. The BAAA has done everything it can to make it more difficult for Kirk
to qualify in the 110m hurdles. All of the other countries have lower qualifying standards. In Trinidad, the standard is 14.95, and the guy who won their CARIFTA Trials ran 14.69. For Bermuda, the standard is also in the high 14s. Here it is, Kirk has ran 14.34, and that time is among the top times by his peers in the region. In the BAAA, they have no idea of the standards around the Caribbean, and no idea of performances of athletes around the region. Kirk would have been a contender for a medal in Bermuda, but there seems to be a conspiracy within the BAAA to keep him off the team all because of their personal feelings toward his coach Shaun Miller. It is wrong and dirty, and they know it."
BAAA President Mike Sands and Head Coach Dianne Woodside were unavailable for comment yesterday, but they have gone on record saying that about 90 percent of the team have made the qualifying standard. As for the qualifying standards, they are set in place by the BAAA each year based on the results from the previous CARIFTA Track and Field Championships. This year's meet is set for the Easter holiday weekend, April 7-9, in Hamilton, Bermuda.
"My son hasn't slept from Sunday. He is very disappointed and feels slighted knowing that the BAAA has targeted him in this way," said Lewis. "They are not giving him an opportunity to excel. Patrick(Bodie)is a very good athlete and he went to CARIFTA last year with a 14.40 performance. Here it is, they both are under that time and Kirk cannot get the nod that he deserves. We're taking this to the ministry, and let the minister know what's going on," she assured.
Lyndale Lewis said that a decision not to have heats in the event at the CARIFTA Trials also hurt her son. The event was ran as a straight final with Lewis and Bodie running out of lanes seven and eight. According to reports, the race was too close to call, but somehow, on the clock, they were still separated by nine one hundredths of a second-Bodie under the qualifying time and Lewis just above it.
"Initially, we were concerned about the fact that they had the two fastest hurdlers in lanes seven and eight, but it is what it is and the race went on. The race was very close to the point where you couldn't tell a winner from looking at it with the naked eye. Something just isn't right in the BAAA when it comes to Shaun Miller and his athletes. Unfortunately, it's my son who is being slighted now, but we'll deal with it and move on."
Under the guidance of his coach Shaun Miller, C.V. Bethel hurdler Lewis decided to pull out of the 110m hurdles at the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) Championships this year because of a discrepancy in the height of the hurdles. Apparently, the hurdles were set at the height at the world level, 49 inches, as opposed to the height used for the CARIFTA Championships, 39 inches. The height was adjusted for the CARIFTA Trials, but with the event being ran as a straight final, Lewis said that her son only had one shot of qualifying for CARIFTA, and unfortunately just fell short. She assured that her son was the closest to the qualifying standards of the non-qualifiers though, and as a result, should have been given top priority during consideration for the CARIFTA squad.