By Noel 'Bravo' Francis, Special to TrackAlerts.Com
Over 27 countries will take part in the 44th CARIFTA Games to be staged at the Silver Jubilee Athletic Stadium in Bassettere, St. Kitts during the period April 3-6th, 2015. Defending champions Jamaica have assembled a powerful 80 member squad to retain their crown and continue a 30-odd year dominance of the games usually held over the Easter holiday weekend.
Caribbean fans are looking forward to some exciting and world-class performances from all the athletes. Here are some of the events that should generate a lot of interest over the three days of competition.
Boys’ Under-20 100m
Michael O’Hara of Jamaica has been having an extra ordinary year so far and is one of the favourites going into this event. The four time gold medallist at the recent Jamaican high school championships (Champs) will be hoping to close out his CARIFTA career in style. O’Hara has a season best of 10.23 seconds and based on current form and renewed confidence, should be very difficult to beat this year.
His teammate, Raheem Chambers last year’s CARIFTA under-18 100m champion and record holder completes a very strong Jamaican representation in this event. Chambers has been having an up and down season, however, he will be hoping to put his ‘Champs’ disappointment behind him and rediscover his best form in St. Kitts.
Barbadian speedster Mario Burke is one of bright sparks coming out of that island in recent times. The 2013 World Youth finalist and former CARIFTA under-17 100m champion should provide the Jamaicans with their stiffest challenge. Burke ran a personal best of 10.47 seconds in early March this year and should go faster with sterner competition. The Bahamas will be represented by Deedro Clarke who will be trying to make amends for his surprise non-qualification to last year’s final. Clarke ran a new personal best of 10.39 seconds on March 21, 2015 and will be a serious medal contender. This eagerly awaited clash will be the final event on the second day of competition.
Boys’ Under-18 100m
Jamaica should again command the favourites tag in this event with two outstanding sprinters from Calabar High School. Tyreke Wilson who narrowly won the CARFITA trials and teammate Xavier Angus who placed second should lead the country’s charge. Wilson is a smooth sprinter with a 10.55 seconds personal best, whilst Angus is a rugged and strong sprinter who zooms past his opponents like a rocket.
Trinidad & Tobago’s upcoming sprint star Akanni Hislop who placed fifth last year in 10.75 seconds will be vying for a podium spot this year. Hislop who hails from Tobago won the 2015 T&T CARIFTA Trials in a wind-assisted 10.49 seconds; however, he will be keen on going faster than his personal best of 10.63 seconds in St. Kitts. Bahamian sprinter Javan Martin who ran a personal best 10.54 seconds to capture the bronze medal last year in this event must feel that the gold medal is within his reach this year. Martin is a gritty sprinter who never gives up and will pose a serious threat to the Jamaicans.
Caribbean fans are hoping that they will be able to access live coverage of the games this year unlike last year where difficulties were experienced in Guadeloupe. Outside of TV coverage, I believe fans can log on to livecomeseetv.com to witness all the action.