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The Bahamas re-captures CARIFTA Games clout


NG Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: Apr 13, 2012

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The emphatic performances of Bahamian athletes in Bermuda this past weekend during the 41st CARIFTA Games was collective proof that this country has regained its clout in the regional competition.

Yes, Jamaica won yet again, but The Bahamas easily out-distanced the other sister nations of the area and looks poised to seriously challenge for the top spot when the 42nd version of the CARIFTA Games is hosted here in 2013. Jamaica captured 78 medals (34 gold, 25 silver and 19 bronze) while The Bahamas followed with 14 gold, 14 silver and 12 bronze for a total of 40 medals.

There was a time, during the early 1980s, when The Bahamas was clearly the top track and field junior power in the CARIFTA region. This country captured four of the first five CARIFTA Games at the turn of the decade of the 1980s (1980, 1981, 1983, 1984) and seemed set to join Jamaica in dominating for years to come.

Jamaica won eight of the first 13 CARIFTA Games, with The Bahamas victorious four times and Bermuda once. Jamaica interrupted the brief Bahamian dynasty by breaking up the early 1980s streak in 1982 and then after The Bahamas won in 1984, Jamaica reigned supreme in 1985 and hasn’t looked back since. The 2012 CARIFTA Games marked the 36th triumph for Jamaica.

One thing is certain though, despite the victory over the Easter Holiday weekend in Bermuda, there must be a great “wondering” going on in our sister nation. The confidence and talent demonstrated by the Bahamian CARIFTA athletes in sprint and field events was eye-catching to the world. It is clear that a heavier concentration on distance running and a bit more tenacity in the field events could bring The Bahamas neck-and-neck with Jamaica.

As it was, the brilliant job turned in by our athletes indicated beyond a doubt that at this point, the other countries are in trouble and the main focus is indeed, Jamaica. The stage was set from the first day when The Bahamas won six gold medals, three silver medals and five bronze. The 14-medal count was less than the 25 registered by Jamaica, but the trend for the remainder of the Games was established.

Bahamians across the length and breadth of this nation who viewed and listened to the Games, sponsored by the Progressive Liberal Party and carried by JCN Television and Sports Radio 103.5 FM, had to be brimming over with pride. The first day was really heart-warming and proved once again why it is difficult to argue against the view that ‘sports’ happens to be the most appealing aspect in this country today and has been for many years now.

There was Juannae Lewis winning the silver medal in the under-17 girls 400 meters (m); Janeko Cartwright won the boys under-17 400m; Rashan Brown captured the under-20 female 400m; O’Jay Ferguson won the under-20 male 400m; Drexel Maycock won a silver medal in the under-17 boys shot put; Cliff Resias took the under-17 boys 100m; and Anthonique Strachan and Carmeisha Cox finished first and second respectively in the under-20 girls 100m.

Team Bahamas continued to rise to the occasion on the second and third days with 2011 Most Outstanding Athlete Strachan, the triple jumping twins Latario and Lathone Collie-Minns, high jumper Ryan Ingraham, long jumper Danielle Gibson and the under-20 male 1,600 meters relay team among the glittering performances of our nationals.

Let me put another perspective to readers. The per capita giant of the region is of course The Bahamas. A random population look finds Jamaica with 2.8 million people, Trinidad & Tobago with a bit more than 1.2 million, Guadeloupe with 405,000 and Martinique with 397,000. The Bahamas population figure is listed at 353,658.

Those numbers show how awesome the achievement of The Bahamas at the 41st CARIFTA Games truly was. Go Bahamas!

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturup1504@gmail.com)

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