Several of Jamaica’s top athletes will miss the 48th annual CARIFTA Games, but the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) is confident the team will once again top the medal standing when the meet takes place this Easter weekend (20 to 22 April) at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
The country, which produced the likes of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Yohan Black, has topped the medal table 41 times and its last defeat was in 1984 when The Bahamas won at home.
In 2018, team Jamaica earned 82 medals (43 gold, 28 silver, 11 bronze) in the Bahamas, four medals shy of the 86 they hauled in back in 2017 (39 gold, 28 silver, 19 bronze) in Curacao. Their medal count in 2018 was 47 medals clear of their nearest rival (and hosts) The Bahamas, who had 35 (6 gold, 14 silver, 15 bronze). Trinidad and Tobago placed third with 17 medals (4 gold, 6 silver, 7 bronze).
Garth Gayle, JAAA General Secretary, said based on the performances from the trials, he is confident Jamaica will once again dominate.
“When you look at the Trinidad, Barbados and Bahamas trials, 98 per cent of our athletes are ahead by performances on the track and in the field. Once they are wearing their national colours the Jamaican athletes always outperform and do well for their country, and so we are expecting the same this year,” said Gayle.
Jamaica currently has four ladies on the world 100m list, but they have all decided to skip the event. Ashanti Moore (11.17) and Kevona Davis (11.19), who are first and second respectively in the U20 division and twin sisters Tina Clayton (11.27) and Tia Clayton (11.37), who are first and third respectively on the U18 world list, will not be making the trip to Cayman.
However, the world’s fastest junior female, Briana Williams, is expected to lead the way for Jamaica. Williams, who made her mark by winning the sprint double at the 2018 World U20 Championships, enters the event as the overwhelming favourite. She won the U17 sprint double last year at CARIFTA and helped Jamaica to the 4x100m title, earning her the 2018 Austin Sealy award but says she is not sure if she will double at this year’s Games.
In the U20 boys 100m, with the world leader Oblique Seville at 10.13 and second on the world list this year along with Ryiem Robertson at 10.19, Jamaica should face minimal problems in finishing first and second. Jeremy Farr and Wayne Pinnock are also world leaders in their events. Farr leads the world 400m list but will run the 200m, while Pinnock’s 8.05m personal best in the long jump should set him up for a win.
Kai Chang, a World U20 champion in discus, is another athlete expected to do great things in Cayman and Ackera Nugent, who leads the world in the U20 girls’ 100m hurdles with 13.26, a personal best done at Jamaica’s trials, will be untouchable.
Team Jamaica will make the short journey to Cayman with a full team of 80 athletes and 12 officials.