By Anmar Goodridge-Boyce
Ashlyn Simmons and Layla Haynes were crowned CARIFTA champions after capturing gold medals for Barbados in the evening session of the region’s most prestigious junior track and field meet yesterday at the Thomas A Robinson Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas.
In one of the most memorable moments of the games so far, Haynes lived up to huge expectations and fulfilled her destiny with a sublime performance to win the Under-20 girls’ 1500 metre event.
Haynes, a 17-year-old United States-based athlete who recently gained an athletics scholarship at the University of Florida, produced a time of 4:53.29 minutes to strike gold.
The lion-hearted Haynes, the granddaughter of former minister of finance, the late Sir Richie Haynes; Dr Carol Jacobs; and Trinidad & Tobago Olympic silver medallist Wendell Mottley; executed a stellar race to win the island’s second medal of the games in grand style.
With her mum, dad and little sister cheering in the stands, Haynes made her move on the back stretch before outsprinting the Jamaican duo of Kishay Rowe (4:53.79) and Jody Ann Mitchell (4:55.99) in the final 100 metres to turn last year’s bronze to gold.
“I just trust God, trust my training and trust my coaches. I trust the process and prayed for the best. I stayed on the pace, navigated based on how I was feeling and worked off the energy that was going on,” she said in a post-match interview.
Asked about her stunning kick over the last 100-metres of the race, Haynes added, “It was a miracle, that’s God. I don’t even remember the moment but I told myself now or never, I had to go.”
A few minutes earlier, Simmons won the first medal on the track at the games when she clinched the Under-17 girls 1500-metre in 4:51.65 minutes and draped herself in the Barbados flag. Her mother Lydia was bursting with jubilation and ran from the stands to the track-side to be the first one to congratulate Simmons on a spectacular effort and golden moment. Dena-Marie of Curacao took silver in 4:52.57 minutes while hometown girl Erin Barr won bronze in 4:54.09 minutes.
Barbados ended the session with three medals in total as Aaron Massiah, the brother of CARIFTA gold medallist Caleb Massiah, secured silver in the Under-17 boys long jump with a best leap of 6.49 metres on his sixth and final attempt. Trinidad & Tobago’s Immani Matthew (7.13 metres) took gold on his first attempt while Anthony Chin (6.48 metres) of Cayman Islands claimed bronze.
Kadia Rock was seventh in the Under-17 girls 400-metre final in 57.49 seconds, while Kaden Dowrich-Roach suffered an injury while going through his paces for the boys final and was assisted off the track in a wheelchair.
Brieanna Boyce finished seventh in the Under-20 girls 400-metre final with a time of 56.37 seconds and Barbados’ fastest schoolgirl Aniya Nurse came sixth in the Under-17 girls 100-metre final in 12.07 seconds. Khristel Martindale also finished sixth in the Under-20 girls 100-metre in 11.97 seconds in a race which was won by Jamaican wondergirl and world leader Alana Reid in 11.17 seconds. Aragon Straker, Barbados’ fastest schoolboy capped off the day with a fifth-place finish in the marquee Under-20 boys’ 100-metre final in 10.54 seconds. The event was won by Cayman Islands’ Davonte Howell (10.30).