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40-medal CARIFTA team returns home!

BAAA chief vows to improve junior program for next year
  • The Bahamas’ CARIFTA track and field team was welcomed home to a grand reception at the New Providence Community Centre on Blake Road last night. The team returned home with 40 medals - 14 gold, 14 silver and 12 bronze. That is The Bahamas’ most medals at CARIFTA since 1984. Pictured are Latario and Lathone Collie-Minns, and Shaunae Miller. FILE PHOTO

SHELDON LONGLEY
Guardian Sports Editor
slongley@nasguard.com

Published: Apr 11, 2012

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The most successful Bahamian CARIFTA Team in almost 30 years returned home to a grand reception at the Lynden Pindling International Airport last night. The team won 40 medals — 14 gold, 14 silver and 12 bronze - to finish a strong second behind Jamaica which ended the 41st annual track and field championships with 78 total medals — 34 gold, 25 silver and 19 bronze.

There’s no doubt that there is still quite a way to go to bridge the gap between the two countries, but Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAA) President Mike Sands is of a firm belief that they are on the right track, and with The Bahamas hosting the CARIFTA track and field event next year, that will be the perfect time to show the region that The Bahamas is indeed capable of challenging Jamaica.

The Bahamas won 40 medals this year, and next year the country turns 40-years-old as an independent nation. The time is now to make a statement, and Sands has a plan in place to do just that.

“We have to do a major talent search,” said Sands. “With us hosting CARIFTA, there are definitely some areas that we are looking at. This is going to be the quick start of our rebuilding program, to ensure that we will have a good representation of field and track events next year, and ensure that our kids are performing at their best at home.”

Sands said that there is tremendous talent in the Family Islands waiting to be discovered, and the BAAA has to tap into that resource pool deeply in order to make inroads in the national development program. This year, five of the CARIFTA athletes hailed from the Family Islands. Four of those five, namely Denzel Pratt, Keianna Albury, Kristina Knowles and Andre Colebrook, came from Eleuthera. The other, Tamara Myers, hails from Andros. Four of those five athletes won medals, three individually.

“It’s all about being able to identify the talent and diamonds that we have in the rough,” said Sands. “A lot more emphasis has to be put on the Family Islands. There are five athletes from the Family Islands on this team who are doing extremely well, but in the overall picture, this team is more than 90 percent Nassau and Grand Bahama.

“The young sprinter from Eleuthera made a meaningful contribution and there is the young man who finished third in the javelin, and there is also the Knowles girl just to name a few. We recognize that there are things that need to be done. We have to get the financial support so that we can get into the Family Islands and seek out the talent that is there,” he added.

Over the years, a number of athletes who have excelled for The Bahamas, both in the junior and senior ranks, were from the Family Islands. There are athletes like Eleutheran Chris Brown, Savetheda Fynes and Troy McIntosh, from Abaco, the late Vernetta Rolle, from Long Island, and Androsian Carl Oliver just to name a few. Somehow the national program hasn’t developed Family Islands as consistently as it should of, but there is little doubt that an abundance of untouched talent lies in the nooks and crannies of our islands.

Be that as it may, this year’s celebration is all about this year’s very strong team. The Bahamas last won 14 gold medals at CARIFTA in 1986, and hadn’t won as much as 40 total medals since 1984.

What more can be said of Anthonique Strachan!

For just the fifth time since the inception of the CARIFTA, an athlete repeated as the winner of the Austin Sealey award. Triple gold medalist Strachan is also the second Bahamian to accomplish that honor, joining Laverne Eve who won the awards in 1982 and 1983.

The entire team lived up to its billing as one of the best Bahamian junior units ever assembled, and now the challenge will be if they duplicate that tremendous feat at home, inside the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, next year.

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