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Eight qualify for CAC Age Group Championships

Anderson won 13-14 girls division by almost 300 points; Rolle is only returning athlete
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE: Branson Rolle (High Performance) competes in the 80m hurdles during The Bahamas’ CAC Age Group Trials this past weekend. Rolle, who represented The Bahamas at the CAC Age Group Championships before, won the 13-14 boys division this past weekend, with 4,676 points. Photo courtesy of KERMIT TAYLOR/BAHAMAS ATHLETICS

Guardian Sports Editor

Published: Jun 04, 2013

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It might have taken a bit longer than expected to be completed, but at the end of day, no one could complain about the fantastic performances and gut-wrenching efforts that were turned in this past weekend at The Bahamas’ Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Age Group Trials.

The event finally wrapped up yesterday afternoon at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, with eight young Bahamians qualifying to represent the country at the biennial CAC Age Group Championships, scheduled for June 29-30, in Willemstad, Curaçao. The top two finishers in each group qualified. The Bahamas finished second at the past four championships, which came on the heels of two straight victories, in 2001 when it was held in Grand Bahama, and again in 2003.

As for this year’s championships, qualifying to represent The Bahamas at the end of the month are Tylar Lightbourn (Xtreme Athletics) and Kennedy Culmer (Golden Eagles) in the 11-12 girls division, Blaize Darling (Fast Forward) and Tamasio Bullard (Golden Eagles) in the 11-12 boys division, Doneisha Anderson (TWD Athletics) and Kristia Collie (Alliance Athletics) in the 13-14 girls division, and finally, Branson Rolle (High Performance) and Kairon Bain (Neymour Athletics) in the 13-14 boys division. The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) still has to ratify the team.

As a precursor to the actual championships in Curaçao, the 11-12 athletes competed in the pentathlon this past weekend - 60 meters (m), 800m girls/1,000m boys, long jump, high jump and baseball throw; and the 13-14 athletes competed in the heptathlon - 80m, 1,000m girls/1,200m boys, 60m hurdles girls/80m hurdles boys, long jump, high jump, baseball throw and shot put.

According to reports, the event which was initially scheduled to be completed on Saturday, was shifted to Saturday and Sunday because of the weather forecast, and then eventually pushed to Monday because of a power outage at the stadium.

“Overall, it was a very competitive meet,” said BAAA Public Relations Officer Tonique Williams-Darling. “This championship is important to the development of youth athletics, training for technical events and talent identification. The need for this program is birthed from the concern in athletics that a large number of talented athletes participating in track and field at a young age often disappear from the sport too soon. It is the belief that in track and field, kids specialize too soon which can lead to burnout both mentally and physically.”

Branson Rolle is the only qualifier who has represented The Bahamas at the CAC Age Group Championships before. He won the 13-14 boys division this past weekend, with 4,676 points, more than 150 points over second place finisher Bain (4,518 points). Michael Stuart (Kenyan Knights) was edged out for second place, finishing third with 4,494 points.

In the 13-14 girls division, Blayre Catalyn who represented The Bahamas at the CAC Age Group Championships two years ago, and as a member on this year’s CARIFTA squad, had to settle for third behind Anderson who won by nearly 300 points, and Collie. Anderson ended the meet with 4,065 points, Collie had 3,782 points, and Catalyn finished with 3,535 points.

In the 11-12 girls division, Lightbourn won with 2,374 points. Culmer was second with 2,261 points, and Denika Roach (Striders) finished third with 2,110 points, and in the 11-12 boys division, Darling won by over 200 points. He totaled 3,055 points, Bullard had 2,800 points, and Romel Russell (Golden Eagles) finished third, with 2,780 points.

One event, in particular, which drew a lot of excitement was the 13-14 girls high jump. Anderson, who had never competed in that event before, soared 1.61m (5’3-1/4”) in a what turned out to be a head-to-head duel with Daejah Moss. Moss, who competes for the Striders, finished second in that event with a best leap of 1.58m (5’ 2-1/4”). That 1.61m leap would have been good enough for a bronze medal at this year’s CARIFTA Games. Moss was in the running for qualification, until dropping out of the final event in her age group, the 1,000m.

“During the preparation and these trials, we have seen athletes do amazing things. Athletes excel in events that they have never tried. This competition is key to talent identification,” said Williams-Darling. “The IAAF recognized this and introduced ‘Kids Athletics’ which introduces kids to all the disciplines, allowing them to explore. In keeping with the IAAF, the BAAA supports this initiative and recognizes the importance of developing athletes for the future. With persons such as Debbie Ferguson, who is a proven product of this system, we know that it works.”

Ferguson is just one of a few Bahamian Olympians who have competed in the CAC Age Group Championships. Others are Raymond Higgs and Shaunae Miller. Some former CARIFTA athletes who started their international careers at the CAC Age Group Championships are Danielle Gibson, Pedyra Seymour and Delano Davis, just to name a few.

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