Nine countries, and over one hundred athletes, will come together for the historic staging of the inaugural CARIFTA Triathlon, Aquathlon and Mixed Relay Championship scheduled for this weekend at the Barbados Aquatic Center in Wildey, St Michael.
During this morning’s media launch at the Barbados Olympic Association, president of the Barbados Federation of Island Triathletes, Darren Treasure, said the event scheduled for October 7 to 8 was the first of its kind in Barbados that provided young triathletes with an opportunity to compete professionally at a regional level.
Team Barbados comprises of 25 athletes under the command of head coach and well-known Barbadian triathlete Oein Josiah, with husband and wife team Mike and Liz Sims as his assistance.
“This inaugural CARIFTA event is extremely significant to the sport of triathlon in that it provides a platform for our juniors to improve their international competitiveness and skill sets. It is hoped that it will give them the confidence to strive to make it to world-class competitions like the Youth Commonwealth Games, Youth Olympic Games, Central American and Caribbean Games and Pan American Games. Spectators will also enjoy the event, so I encourage all Bajans to come out this weekend and support the athletes as well as the sport of triathlon,” he said.
According to Treasure, Barbados, who can boast of having two elite triathletes namely Olympian Jason Wilson and Mathew Wright, was unanimously chosen to host the event by 11 other Caribbean Triathlon Federations.
The competing countries in addition to Barbados are Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Bahamas, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Martinique and the United States Virgin Islands.
Harrison College students Eric Lashley and his older sister Rebecca, a two-time CARIFTA silver medallist and Niel Skinner of Queen’s College were at the conference today and will be representing Barbados.
It was announced that a total of 42 females and 60 males are on course to compete in age groups ranging from 11-12, 13-15 and 16-19.
Barbados is no stranger to creating sporting history. In 1972 they became host to the very first CARIFTA Games founded by Barbadian born and National Olympic Committee member, Sir Austin Sealy. It has become one of the major track and field events around the Caribbean for the past 46 years and boasts of producing some of this region’s greatest athletes such as Jamaican-born sprinter Usain Bolt, and Barbados’ Olympic bronze medallist Obadele Thompson, among many others.
Treasure, who is also the race director for the upcoming competition, explained what spectators should expect for the swimming, cycling and running components of the event.
He said: “We are removing all the ropes and changing the pool to be more reflective of open water swimming. We are putting a buoy in the corner, one buoy in the middle, the swimmers will start basically touching the wall in the water and they will swim to the first buoy in the middle and make a turn and then proceed to do laps around the perimeter of the pool.
“We have two bicycle routes starting with the sixteen to nineteen-year-olds, they are going to start by doing one lap around the gymnasium complex, they would then proceed to leave the complex and ride six laps between Garfield Sobers Roundabout and the Graeme Hall Roundabout. And then they return to the Gymnasium to finish with one final lap and that makes twenty kilometres and then they would proceed to run within the complex itself. The age eleven to twelve and the thirteen to fifteen bike routes would use the interior part of the complex, that northern road at the side of the old BET building, come down and use the curb lane and enter into the southern entrance of the Gymnasium complex.
“The runners’ course would be contained within the Gymnasium complex, so we have a one-kilometre loop and then roughly a half kilometre, so everyone would be running the same running course….We are going to mix the relay format and try to combine males and females, each doing all the three disciplines in succession, very fast and entertaining race.”
Prizes will be given to the top five finishers for males and females respectively, along with rewards for the top three countries based on individual points accumulated.
Assistant coach Mike Sims said from a coach’s perspective, this was a perfect time for the triathlon athletes to be entered at the elite level and he expected Team Barbados to do well based on the talent he has seen.
Athletes from the nine participating countries will arrive from October 4th and 5th, the official ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, October 6 at the Aquatic Center and the actual competition from 6 a.m. on Saturday morning October 7 where spectators are expected to pay a very small entrance fee.