Barbadians Mary Fraser and Mario Burke were among top regional athletes, who shone at the just-concluded CARIFTA Games in Basseterre.
In addition to her three gold medals, Fraser walked away with coveted Austin Sealy Award – an honour presented to the athlete who is adjudged to be the most outstanding. She had earlier won the Under-18 800m (2:11.63), the 1500m (4:41.44) and the 3000m (10:27.91).
At the tournament, which was again dominated by Jamaica, Fraser’s compatriot Burke defeated Jamaica’s triple ‘Champs’ gold medallist Michael O’Hara in the 100m, in a personal best of 10.21 (1.5m/s). On the final day of the championships, Burke added the 200m gold medal to his collection, winning in 21.51 (-0.6), while O’Hara gained redemption by running the anchor leg for Jamaica to win the 4x400m.
The four-day championships held at the Kim Collins Stadium, Bird Rock, brought together some of the best young athletes in the Caribbean, many of whom will be vying for medals at this year’s IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015.
Jamaican sprinter Christopher Taylor is one such athlete. Having already set a world age-15 best of 45.69 over 400m earlier this year, the Taylor carried the burden of being favourite for the under-18 one-lap sprint. He was pushed all the way by Trinidad and Tobago’s Jacob St Clair, but Taylor held on for the win in 46.64, just 0.09 ahead of his older rival.
On the final day of the championships, Taylor anchored Jamaica to victory in the 4x400m, again breaking the championship record with their time of 3:12.07.
Taylor’s winning performances were two of many championship records that were set over the past four days.
Having suffered a rare defeat at the recent Boys and Girls Champs in Kingston, world junior 400m hurdles champion Jaheel Hyde returned to winning ways in Basseterre. But once again, he didn’t have it all his own way.
On Sunday he was up against world youth champion Marvin Williams in the under-20 400m hurdles. Hyde, winner of the 2013 world youth 110m hurdles title, trailed his fellow Jamaican by a stride for the first 300 metres. He finally drew level at the last barrier and then opened up a margin of 0.15 by the finish line, winning in 50.96.
One day later, Hyde won the 110m hurdles title by exactly the same margin. Aided by a 3.3m/s tailwind, Hyde stopped the clock at 13.36, beating Xavier Coakley of The Bahamas.
Hyde’s third gold medal came in the 4x400m. Led off by Williams, Hyde overtook Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago on the second leg to give Jamaica a lead they never relinquished.
Akeem Bloomfield, who won the individual 400m title in 45.85, wasn’t on the team, but Jamaica still managed to win by more than three seconds in 3:09.13.
Junelle Bromfield was another triple winner with ambitions of competing in Cali later this year.
She dominated the under-18 400m flat, winning in 53.48 to fall just 0.12 short of Shaunae Miller’s championship record. On Sunday she then won the 400m hurdles by almost three seconds, clocking a championship record of 59.55, and then returned 24 hours later to run the first leg for Jamaica in the 4x400m, winning in 3:39.13.
As is often the case at the CARIFTA Games, Jamaican athletes dominated the sprints and hurdles events. The trend continued in the under-18 girls’ events, with Shellece Clark, Shaneil English and Janeek Brown winning the 100m, 200m and 100m hurdles respectively with personal bests.
In a close 100m final, Clark held off Tristan Evelyn of Barbados to win in a PB of 11.50 (1.3m/s), faster than the winning time in the under-20 competition.
English, meanwhile, finished 0.09 ahead of Brianne Bethel of The Bahamas to take the 200m title in 23.38 (1.5m/s) on Monday. Earlier in the evening, Brown had smashed her own championship record to win the 100m hurdles in 13.29 (1.2m/s), moving to 20th on the world youth all-time list.
Brown, English and Clark then teamed up to win the 4x100m by almost two seconds, crossing the line in 45.33.
Jamaica swept all of the gold medals on offer in the relay events across both age groups, but in the individual sprints, a small handful of athletes from – other nations prevented further Jamaican success.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Akanni Hislop went significantly quicker in the younger age group to win the 200m title in 20.91 (1.8m/s), while compatriot Kayelle Clarke felt the benefit of a 4.8m/s tailwind when winning the under-20 women’s 200m in 23.12.
Before Keshorn Walcott won surprise gold at the 2012 Olympics, Trinidad and Tobago had never really made an impact internationally in the javelin.
But now Tyriq Hosford looks to be following – and even surpassing – the path that Walcott laid out. Just 15 years old, Hosford won the under-18 javelin with a championship record of 70.73m.
Elsewhere, Ayesha Champagnie smashed the championship record in the under-20 heptathlon, winning with a score of 5231 after posting the leading marks in the shot, javelin and long jump.
She went on to win silver in the individual javelin in a competition where Isheeka Binns set a championship record of 49.72m.
Suriname has only won four gold medals in the 44-year history of the CARIFTA Games. Triple jumper Miguel van Assen is responsible for three of those, his latest coming in the under-20 triple jump with a winning leap of 16.24m. (IAAF/ )