CARIFTA Games athletes bring pride and expectation

The performances by Cayman Islands athletes at the 2018 Flow CARIFTA Games in the Bahamas, has left the young track and field stars, as well as local officials brimming with pride ahead of the territory’s hosting of the showpiece event next year.

At the end of three days of competition at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau, Cayman’s athletes won five medals. This included a gold, three silvers and a bronze medal.

Lacee Barnes won the U20 Girls discus with a national record of 49.81m and also won silver in the U20 Girls shot put. Another thrower, Daneliz Thomas, won silver in the U20 Girls javelin. U17 Relay 4x100m relay teams provided the other medals: Boys team of Silver Hurlston, Neil Brown, Errol Smith, and Derrick Francis won silver behind Jamaica. Tori-Ann Gonez, Ashantae Graham, Jaden Francis, and Danneika Lyn took bronze in the girls’ race.

Lacee Barnes led the way with a pair of medals (Photo courtesy David Wight)

“I think that our athletes performed very well,” Sports Councillor David Wight, who attended the Games, told “Our athletes displayed tremendous heart and represented our country well! We also have many athletes that have gained valuable experience as they prepare to perform in front of a home crowd in 2019.”

Cayman Islands Athletic Association (CIAA) president Lance Barnes shared the same view. “I believe the future looks bright considering the amount of young people who participated and I am expecting them to do better on home soil,” he said from Australia, where he is attending the XXI Commonwealth Games.

Both relay teams relied heavily on athletes making their CARIFTA Games debuts. Ashantae Graham was the only one of the eight with experience at this level and that was in long jump. Additionally, rookies live Levi Superville, Ava Hider and Jaheim Morgan narrowly missed the podium in their events.

Barnes said this bodes well for the future. “I’m quite pleased, especially with the freshmen. They did not medal in their individual events. However, the relay brought a lot of joy to them and the rest of us who were supporting them.”

Jaden Francis is ready for more CARIFTA action.

Jaden Francis of Falcon Athletics set two personal best (PB) times in her individual events to add to the relay medal from her first CARIFTA Games. The 15-year-old ran 25.21 sec in the U17 Girls 200m and 57.02 in the 400m.

“I was really nervous for the 400m but then I stepped on the track and the nerves went away,” said Francis, who lacks genuine competition at home in her age group in the one-lap event. “I love the feeling, the crowd, the energy. I dropped more than a second, so it showed how competition does.”

Another rookie, Derrick Francis, also made his time in the Bahamas count, returning with a relay medal and a season’s best of 11.32 sec in the U17 Boys 100m preliminaries, although like Francis, he failed to advance.

“I was expecting a PB but it didn’t happen. The race didn’t go as planned but everybody said I ran it perfectly. My coach said I ran it well,” said the youngster from Mustang Track Club.

He said ahead of the relay event against Bahamas, Jamaica, and Turks and Caicos Islands, he and the other three were feeling the nerves. “But we came together and were confident that we could do this. We said there can’t be four countries in a relay and we can’t bring home a medal and we worked so hard [to get there],” Francis told when he arrived at Owen Roberts International Airport on Tuesday.

Derrick Francis with his mother, Marcia.

“When I got the baton, I felt the Turks and Caicos guy closing in on me but I looked up on the TV screen and said I’m not going to make this guy beat me,” he said, adding that when he crossed the line second behind Jamaica “that’s when the happiness started.”

His mother, Marcia Francis, watched the race nervously from the Cayman Islands. “I was at home and was so excited and jumping and screaming because before he went, he told me he was going to bring back a medal for me. I’m very happy and I’m proud of him,” she said as she embraced her son.

Thomas, the national record holder in the women’s javelin, said she was happy with the way her CARIFTA Games career ended – with a silver medal. “It feels very overwhelming to know that this is my last CARIFTA and I actually got a medal. I wanted to get the gold but I got the silver and I’m still proud of myself. I think I represented my country really well,” she said.

Daneliz Thomas

Jaden Francis said she was grateful for the opportunity to represent the country and has her sights set on bigger things when the Games are held in the Cayman Islands next year. “I’m excited for many more and now I know what it’s like to run with such intense competition and I’ll keep working hard to do better,” she said, adding “I feel comfortable in my skin now.”

CIAA president Barnes he was pleased with the level of support by parents who made the trip to the Bahamas. “I’m also pleased with the senior athletes, especially [my daughter] Lacee, who has final won the gold in the discus which has always eluded her since her debut a few years back,” Barnes said after rising early in Australia over the weekend to track the performances of the athletes, including his daughter.

Assistant Chief Officer in the Sports Ministry, Joel Francis, applauded the youngsters upon their arrival home. “They did extremely well…I think most importantly, they represented us well as ambassadors of the Cayman Islands. We look forward to bigger things next year,” he said.

Barnes, the CIAA president, said he’s already looking at ways to get the most of the local athletes when the compete on home soil against the Caribbean’s best over Easter Weekend 2019.

Thomas gives Cayman 5th medal as Games close


National record for Barnes as Cayman’s medal count rises

Barnes silver caps Day 1 for Cayman at CARIFTA Games

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  1. Pingback: 2018 Flow CARIFTA Games makes broadcasting history – Cayman Sports Buzz

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