Barbados’ 32-member CARIFTA team touched down at the Grantley Adams International Airport this evening bearing eight gold, six silver and six bronze medals.
They were greeted by loud cheers from family, friends, sports, schools and Government officials, led by Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley. Many of those waiting on the athletes’ arrival carried placards and signs showing their appreciation for the youngsters and their efforts in Grenada over the Easter weekend.
Speaking to the media, coach Brian Holder credited the junior programme that exposed athletes to various aspects of competition for the team’s success. But he added he would like to see the programme being utilized even more. Though happy with his charges’ performances, he explained there was still much to be done.
“In the last year or so we have developed a junior programme and we expose them to various aspects of the competition whether it be the media for example or drug testing and different areas. What I would like to see though is that our junior programme is utilized more; that we insist a bit more that the charges from various clubs come together and be exposed to what we are exposing everybody else to. Because when we get to this level we see some people in events that have some inefficiency that shouldn’t show up at the CARIFTA Games,” Holder said.
Barbados won four more medals this year than they did in St Kitts last year and Holder made it clear that even though they would have liked to sit at least second on the medal podium ahead of Bahamas who accounted for 34 medals and the dominant Jamaicans with 86, at the end of the day it was about Barbados and not individualism. He used the under-20 boys 4x400m team who captured bronze as an example.
“Interestingly enough, I thought the 400m hurdler Rasheem Griffith has certainly sparked our interest but what I thought was good about the Barbados team was the under twenty boys four by four. We put together a unit and we told them: ‘listen you have to run for your lives in order to come up with a medal’ and I thought through their actions they demonstrated that and that is the kind of thing that we want to develop. It is about Barbados, not the individual athlete. It is about putting this country on the track and field map where we will remain visible for quite a time.”
Looking ahead already to CARIFTA in Curacao next year, Holder explained that the aim was to go back to the drawing board in order to let the athletes know what is expected of them. “We need to look at what happens at BSSAC in terms of selection, the entries for CARIFTA, because what many of you may not realize we have an entry deadline to submit entries before and it usually is not a week or so before like BSSAC,” he noted.
One of the star attractions for the afternoon was golden boy Jonathan Jones who had a welcome deserving of a true champion by his Coleridge and Parry schoolmates and principal Vincent Fergusson. He had two record-breaking performances in Grenada, clocking 1:49.88 in the 800m and 3:57.19 in the 1500m.
The 17-year-old from Checker Hall, St Lucy told Barbados TODAY: “I feel really good, just a little tired to be honest, but I am happy with my performances I always pray for better performances and I am satisfied thus far. I left here saying I was going for both of those records and I knew in my head I could break both of those records and I expected to break them both by the time I landed in Grenada,” said Jones, who thanked his grandmother Marvene Broomes, who he said raised him from six months old, for all her sacrifices and dedication towards him.
The former Half Moon Fort pupil also spoke about his two races and explained that even though he was not too happy with his time in the 1500m and was hopeful of clocking 3:54, the 800m went according to plan and he was satisfied with his time. However looking ahead to World Juniors, Jones believes he can run even faster and try to qualify for the Rio Olympics along with Sada Williams.
In fact both Jones and Williams were Coleridge and Parry schoolmates until the talented young lady went to Harrison College to continue her studies in sixth form. Also speaking to the media, Williams said she was happy with her final outing at the CARIFTA Games and added it was just a matter of working on her speed and endurance leading up to Olympics.