In spite of a few who travelled to Curacao recording personal bests, Barbados’ athletes at the 2017 Flow CARIFTA Games in Willemstad noticeably underperformed.
The 28-member Barbados team had overall 12 medals inclusive of four gold, four silver and four bronze to show from this past weekend which makes their performance one of the worse for this country at CARIFTA.
Some might argue that this group did better than most Barbadian CARIFTA teams in previous years, especially the 1982 squad to Jamaica with six medals that did not include a gold, and also the 1989 games on home soil when we earned just seven.
Many might also try to justify our showing in Curacao by focusing on personal best but the truth is management false started and many of the athletes clearly missed their marks.
Let me take time to congratulate the outstanding performers including gold medallists Rasheem Griffith, Jonathan Jones and Aaron Worrell, along with the 4x400m relay team of Griffith, Antoni Hoyte-Small, Nathan Fergusson and Kyle Gale.
Silver and bronze medallists Jaquon Hoyte, Rivaldo Leacock, Tianna Bowen, Jonathan Miller and Roneldo Rock must also be commended.
There were races in which we missed out on a podium finish. United States-based Tristan Evelyn in her final year at CARIFTA failed to merit her place in the Under-20 Girls sprint. Evelyn clocked the sixth fastest time in the 100m (11.91), and in the 200m she was once again outpaced and did not get past the preliminaries with a disappointing (25.18).
Hannah Connell did not produce the type of results she had hoped for in the Under-18 Girls 100m and 100m hurdles. In fact she did not make the final cut for the 100m and was fifth [14.35] in the hurdles.
Then there was Matthew Clarke (21.65) finishing fourth in the Under-18 Boys 200m. That time was off his personal best of 21.29 seconds achieved a few weeks ago at BSSAC. In the 100m he also failed to cross the finish line for a podium position clocking 10.76 for fourth yet again. Fellow St Michael School mate and first-timer Darian Clarke ran below the 10.82 seconds accomplished at BSSAC and failed to give the same showing with 11.04 seconds at the 100m final in Curacao. At 14-years-old though, Clarke showed great promise despite his eighth place in the 100m. He has quite a few years to improve at this level.
It was somewhat disappointing to see only the Under-18 Boys being featured in the relays. In addition we took three non-qualifiers in Rio Williams, Shanice Hutson and Aaron Worrell.
Williams finished sixth in the Under-20 Boys 800m while Hutson in the Under-18 Girls Division threw a personal best of 39.01m in the discus for fourth position and putted 10.97m in the shot put to take ninth place.
Worrell was the only one of the three who really justified the selectors faith in him when he delivered a memorable gold medal performance in the Boys Open Octathlon.
Though not suggesting Williams or Hutson should not have been part of the team, but if provision were made for them, why then were persons such as Deshon Trent and Jaliyah Denny not afforded the same opportunity having come so close. In fact and just maybe if Trent who ran 48.17 seconds to go under the CARIFTA qualifying time of 48.25 in the Under-20 Boys 400m had been given an opportunity to represent Barbados, we might have had a good enough Under-20 Boys 4x400m team comprising of Trent, Rivaldo Leacock, 800M gold medalists Jonathan Jones and maybe 100m silver medallist Jaquan Hoyte.
Similarly in the Under-18 Girls Division, Barbados should have had a 4x100m relay team made up of Akayla Morris who earned her place during the Barbados Secondary Schools Athletics Championship [BSSAC]in the Under-17 Girls long jump, Hannah Connell along with Denny and Shemia Odaine. Shonita Brome was also another option but instead Denny who sped her way to victory in the Under-17 Girls 100m [12.035] to edge Morris [12.038] at BSSAC, was left at home along with Odaine who did well for gold in the Under-17 Girls 400m [57.56 seconds] and came second in the long jump with 5.43m behind Morris who was trailing Odaine in the competition at BSSAC. This was until Morris came up with a personal best leap of 5.75m on her final attempt which was good enough for CARIFTA. All that to say competition in the Under-17 Girls age group at BSSAC was highly competitive and Morris in addition to two young ladies could have possibly given us a relay team.
Maybe the switch from Under-18 to the Under-17 Division come next year will afford more Barbadian athletes an opportunity to secure their places quite easily when CARIFTA takes place in the Bahamas. In so doing we would have a much larger contingent with a wider range of options.
Another strange thing is that a few of the athletes were either ill or nursing slight injuries either before leaving Barbados or after landing in Curacao. The St Michael School top athlete Antoni Hoyte-Small was clearly not feeling well before the Under-18 Boys 400m final in which he was sixth clocking 49.45, way outside the 47.56 which he ran at the BSSAC final. Flow CARIFTA champion Antonio Watson of Jamaica [47.86] would have had to run a lot faster if Hoyte-Small was at his best.
Tremaine Smith of The Lodge School was also injured and still ended up in Curacao, which leaves a question mark as to whether Barbados’ track and field management was aware and whether any physicals were done. This scenario brings back memories of West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach touring India in 2013 with a shoulder injury only to be sent back home.
Like I always say, there is room for improvement and hopefully around this same time next year we get it right and not just the athletes, but also the selectors and management.