Track and field athletes get warm welcome

2017 CARIFTA medalists: Rasheem Brown, Lacee Barnes, Dominic Dyer.

Excitement filled the air as the crowd slowly built. A small gathering assembled outside the arrivals hall of the Owen Roberts International Airport to welcome some of the athletes who represented the Cayman Islands from the 46th Flow CARIFTA Games in Curacao.

The six medals, including three gold, that Cayman athletes won were the sixth most of the more than 20 Caribbean countries represented at the games.

Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden was among those welcoming the team. “It’s Amazing. I think one medal for Cayman against the big Caribbean is magnificent. This is a proud moment for Cayman. We got six medals, which falls way short of what a powerhouse country like Jamaica gets but when you consider the size that we’re pulling from and for our athletes to excel and to rise to the top of the medal table is fantastic,” he said.

“I feel good for them, they worked hard and it paid off,” Mr Bodden added.

Rasheem Brown was all smiles.

Among those coming home with a medal was 17-year-old Rasheem Brown, who improved on his bronze last year to win silver in the U18 Boys 110m hurdles.

“I was going in with a lot of confidence and focus. I started off the year with a slight injury but I’m back on track now. I’m very happy for the silver medal…I’m very happy with my time of 13.98, which I qualified for the World Youth Championships in Kenya. So, I’m really happy with my performance,” he told reporters.

Another medalist, Lacee Barnes, who took home top honours in the U20 Girls shot put, reflected on her showing in Curacao. “I wasn’t expecting to win because shot put is one of the harder events,” said Barnes, who made the winning throw of 13.06 metres on her final attempt on Sunday.

A day earlier, she missed out on a podium finish despite a best ever discus throw to set a new national record of 47.63 metres. “Discus was really something…This was one of my favourite events, so it’s one of those things but it is what it is,” she said of her fourth-place finish.

“It was a huge PB. My PB before was 44 metres and I jumped to 47 metres with the adrenaline rush, so I’m really proud of myself,” Barnes added.

Proud father: Lance Barnes with his daughter, Lacee.

Dominic Dyer, one of two Cayman Islands athletes to win multiple medals at the games, shared thoughts on his events, including his gold medal in the U20 Boys 5,000m.

“The first few laps were really slow. That’s why the time was slow but I knew I had to take it out early [because] the Jamaican guy would outsprint me if I left it until a lap or two laps to go. So, I just made a decisive move and I knew that once made that gap, I had to keep that gap and it just kept growing. The guy from Antigua stayed with me for most of the race but with about 600 metres to go I made a little move and managed to open a gap and kept it,” he explained.

Dyer, also said he was pleased with his silver medal in the 1,500m. “The guy who came second, the guy from Guyana, he was a dark horse. I didn’t know anything about him. I knew the Jamaican guy was very strong and the Jamaican guy who came fourth, I expected he’d run a bit faster but he just let the gap get too big.”

Jamal Walton, who won gold in the U20 Boys 200m and silver in the U20 Boys 400m, was the other medalist for Cayman. He returned to Florida, where he attends high school.

Meantime, first-time CARIFTA Games competitor, Daujaughn Murray said he takes positives from his debut despite failing to make the final in either the U18 Boys 400m or 200m events.

“It was a very good experience. I got the good competition, I got the push. I never got a PB this time around but getting the experience, helping me prepare for the next time and I expect to go next time and do better,” he said.

“I feel like I went out and tried my best to represent, so I’m happy,” Murray added. “I definitely expect to get back there and get on the podium.”

Another CARIFTA rookie, 14-year-old Ashantae Graham, who competed in the U18 Girls long jump said the experience was good and she is looking forward to having the opportunity to represent the Cayman Islands again.

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