Carifta Games --- Nickecoy Bramwell's Personal Best Steals the Show at JC Sprint Fest
Nickecoy Bramwell's Personal Best Steals the Show at JC Sprint Fest

ST. GEORGES – Grenada – The 51st edition of the three-day CARIFTA Games was held from March 30 to April 1 at the Kirani James Athletic Stadium in St. George’s, Grenada. The event was a tremendous success for the host country as it celebrated its 50th year of independence.

Jamaica continued their dominance at the games, winning a total of 83 medals, which included 44 gold, 23 silver, and 16 bronze. The Bahamas followed in second place with 34 medals in total, consisting of 9 gold, 13 silver, and 12 bronze. Trinidad and Tobago secured the third position with 27 medals, which included 4 gold, 11 silver, and 12 bronze. 

Cayman on top

In a remarkable final of the Boys U20 100m, the Cayman Islands secured gold and silver for the first time. Defending champion Davonte Howell broke his personal best, established a new U20 national record for the Cayman Islands, and climbed to second place on this year’s U20 world list. The University of Tennessee sprinter achieved an incredibly fast time of 10.15 seconds, with his teammate Jaiden Reid (10.34) holding off Jamaican Javorne Dunkley, who also clocked the same time (10.34). ALSO READ: Jamaica Strikes First: Labels Trinidad and Tobago Athletes ‘Soft’ at Carifta Games

In an exciting 100m final for the U20 Girls, Sabrina Dockery sped to a lifetime best time of 11.26 seconds to defeat her teammate and race favourite, Theianna Lee Terrelonge (11.32), in a 1-2 finish for Jamaica. This reversed their placing at the Jamaican High School Championships a week prior. Guyana’s Athaleyha Hinckson, who finished 7th last year, looked a transformed sprinter this year en route to winning the U17 Girls 100m final in 11.44 seconds, a new personal best. In the boys’ equivalent, Jamaica’s Nyrone Wade continued his purple patch this season with a convincing victory, equalling his personal best of 10.43 seconds.  

Going the distance at CARIFTA Games

In the 1500m finals, Jamaican athletes dominated the competition. Shemar Green led the charge in the U17 boys’ final, making an incredible comeback from eleventh place with just two laps remaining, and winning the gold medal with ease in 4:11.91. In the U20 Boys’ 1500m final, Kemarrio Bygrave cleverly outwitted the field to win in 3:58.10. He returned on the final day and won his second gold medal in the 800m, crossing the finish line at 1:51.43. Demetrie Meyers of Belize made amends following his disappointing 5th place showing in the 1500m final by retaining his U17 Boys’ 3,000m title, winning by daylight in 9:05.86. ALSO READ: Regional Tensions Rise: T&T’s Chinapoo Stirs Debate by Labeling Jamaicans ‘Soft’ Post U17 200m Win at CARIFTA Games

Swaggerific Bramwell 

Jamaica and Guyana shared the four age-group 400m titles on offer, with two wins each. Jamaica’s Nickecoy Bramwell won the U17 boys’ 400m final in 47.27 seconds, eclipsing Usain Bolt’s record of 47.33, which stood for 22 years. Tianna Springer of Guyana proved too strong for the field in the U20 Girls’ 400m, winning in an impressive personal best of 52.31 seconds. Springer’s compatriot Malachi Austin overpowered Jamaica’s Marcinho Rose (46.59), who led for 350m, to win the U20 Boys’ 400m final in a personal best 46.35 seconds. 

Miller and Smith stamp heir class

Jamaica’s Robert Miller established a new record of 52.19 seconds in the U17 Boys’ 400m hurdles. Michelle Smith, a talented athlete from the US Virgin Islands, has never lost a 400m hurdles or 800m race at the CARIFTA Games since she started competing in 2022. Smith successfully defended her U20 Girls’ 400m hurdles title in 56.28 seconds, missing Shian Salmon’s Games record of 56.22 by just six hundredths of a second. She also won the 800m in an impressive time of 2:06.18 and collected her sixth gold medal in three years.

In the finals of the senior sprint hurdles, it was a relatively easy win for Shaquane Gordon from Jamaica in the U20 Boys’ 110m hurdles. He finished the race in 13.15 seconds with a tailwind of +2.1 m/s. Meanwhile, Habiba Harris, also from Jamaica, won the U20 Girls’ 100m hurdles with a wind-aided time of 12.93 seconds (+2.4 m/s). It’s worth noting that Harris missed last year’s Games due to an injury.

Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago’s Chinapoo ruffle some feathers

With the individual U20 400m champions in their midst, Guyana won the mixed relay commandingly, setting a new Games record of 3.23.51. In the U20 Boys 4x100m final, Trinidad & Tobago (40.45) prevented Jamaica (40.55) from completing a clean sweep of the sprint relays with a stunning victory. Interestingly, just a few minutes earlier, the junior Trinidadians (41.53) had given their Jamaican counterparts (41.30) a run for their money in a thrilling U17 Boys’ 4x100m final. 

It was a similar scenario in the 200m finals, with Trinidad and Tobago’s Kadeem Chinapoo denying Jamaica the opportunity to win everything. Chinapoo won the U17 Boys’ 200m in 21.78 seconds and remarked afterwards in an interview that the Jamaican sprinters in his event were soft. In the Boys’ U20 final, Jamaica’s Gary Card ran a fantastic curve and transitioned well down the home straight to cross the finish line in a personal best time of 20.60 seconds. His countrywomen Shanoya Douglas and Natrece East won the U20 and U17 categories, respectively. Interestingly, the three Jamaican winners ran from lane seven.

Records galore in the field

In the morning session of the first day, Maleik Francis from Antigua and Barbuda won the Boys’ U17 Javelin with a throw of 68.84m, which became the first record of the Games. Meanwhile, Dior-Rae Scott from the Bahamas set a new Games record of 52.53m in the girls’ U17 Javelin Throw. Jackie Hyman, representing Guadeloupe, set a Games record of 55.06m to win the U20 Girls Discus throw. This was an improvement from her third-place finish in the previous year’s competition. In the boys’ equivalent, Jamaica’s Shaiquan Dunn produced his best throw in the final round, winning the competition with a distance of 61.47m.

De Gannes lands CARIFTA Games Austin Sealy Award

Trinidad and Tobago’s Janae De Gannes won the U20 Girls’ long jump after cutting the sand at 6.50m, a new Games record. The mark, which moved her to third on the world list, was adjudged the most outstanding performance of the Games. Jamaica’s Rohanna Sudlow leapt a lifetime best 6.30m to claim silver. Joshua Williams produced a lifetime best of 7.03m on his last attempt to snatch victory in a closely contested U17 Boys’ long jump final. Trinidad and Tobago’s Tyrique Vincent, who led from the first round with 7m, fouled his last three attempts and had to settle for second just ahead of Jamaica’s Rodeeki Walters with 6.97m. Williams added the U17 Boys’ high jump gold after clearing the height of 2.00m, the only athlete to do so. His countryman Brenden Vanderpool added 24cm to the pole vault record he set last year in front of his home crowd, improving the mark to 5.30m. 

On the opening day, Zavien Bernard kicked things off for Jamaica by winning the U17 Girls’ high jump on countback. She had a first-time clearance of 1.71m to beat Bahamian Alexandria Komolafe, who cleared the same height on her second attempt. Bernard’s teammate, Rasheda Samuels, won the U20 category. She equalled her personal best of 1.78m on her third and final attempt to supplant teammate Dejanae Bruce, who failed at that height but was leading on countback after a first-time clearance of 1.76m. Jaeda Robinson was immaculate as she revised the record twice in the U17 Girls’ triple jump, bounding to 12.66m in the first round. The 15-year-old Jamaican improved the distance to 12.69m in the second round. Her teammate Javontae Smith established a new Games record in the U17 Boys’ shot put with 18.80m.

Swept away at CARIFTA Games

Jamaica dominated the 4x400m finals, winning all four events by significant margins. However, the final race was marred by controversy, as Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Bahamas lodged protests due to a malfunctioning starter’s gun. These three teams participated in a separate race, and Trinidad and Tobago managed to run fast enough to win the silver medal with a time of 3:11.10. Jamaica won the gold medal with a time of 3:10.58, while Guyana secured the bronze medal with a time of 3:14.05. Interestingly, the Bahamas were disqualified.

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