The St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and St. Lucia teams are all hoping for medal-worthy performances when they take to the track at the 48th annual CARIFTA Games, scheduled for Easter weekend (20 to 22 April) at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines won two gold medals in Bahamas 2018 and is aiming to defend at least the 4x400m title in Cayman. The quartet of Annicea Richards, Shafiqua Maloney, Zita Vincent and Tamara Woodley took the top spot in a time of 3:48.24.
“First, we are looking for a team to defend the 4×400 title,” said Mike Ollivierre, one of the islands’ top coaches.
Woodley, who anchored the team to victory, will return. She has already qualified for the 400m and 400m hurdles. Handal Roban, who ran 1:56.83 to win the U17 boys’ 800m title in 2018, will move up to the U20 division this year. In the U17 female division, Ulanda Lewis has qualified for both 100m and 200m. She was a finalist last year in the 100m and, according to Ollivierre, has a medal chance in both events.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is likely to send ten athletes, among them two 4x400m relay teams.
“All in all, the team is aiming for at least three medals,” said Ollivierre. “We are just getting mature in the sport, so it’s not the same level as Jamaica, but the interest is improving. We see it as a platform to attract scholarships.”
He said the team’s chances this year, compared to previous years, is much better.
“Previous years we were not competitive but now I can personally guarantee a medal in the 4×4 up to 2026.”
Female sprinters Julien Alfred and Kimani Alphonse are expected to lead St. Lucia’s charge for medals after the country has gone medal-less for the last three editions of CARIFTA. According to track and field expert Terry Finisterre, the two will definitely be contenders.
The team is not yet named, but Alfred is expected to be included for the girls’ U20 100m and Alphonse, the one lap U20 event. Reuben Nichols, who attends Kingston College (400m Boys U20), Tarrick Xavier (1500m Boys U20), Joy Edwards (SP Girls U18), Shelton St Rose (100m Boys U20), Zadie St Louis (800m Girls U20) and Kamillah Monroque (1500m Girls U20), are among those likely to make the team.
“Given the experience and age of our lead athletes, with Julien, Kimani, Reuben, and Shelton having competed against some of the best in the world the past two years, I think we are in a better position than we have been for some time,” said Finisterre.
The Grenada team will be hoping to improve on its lone silver medal won at CARIFTA 2018 by Kelsie Murrel-Ross with her 14.14m throw in the shot put.
Nazzio John, a fourth-place finisher last year in the U17 boys’ 100m final, should be able to assist his country in its mission. He steps up in his class this year.
Cayman’s athletes will know their fate after Cayman’s CARIFTA qualifying meet, the CUC CARIFTA Trials which take place on 22 – 23 March at the newly upgraded Truman Bodden track. Great performances are expected across all events and some fireworks in the U17 category. Rasheen Brown and other athletes away at school will be returning home to compete in the trials and earn their spots on the Cayman CARIFTA 2019 Team.