Sports Minster, the Honourable Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, in welcoming home the teams that participated in the recently concluded CARIFTA Swimming Championships and CARIFTA Track and Field Championships (held in Martinique and Grenada respectively), lauded the athletes for yet another outstanding performance at the championships while adding that she was most pleased by the number of records that were broken this year.
“The CARIFTA Games has been our stomping ground over the years, so it is not surprising that we dominated the competition, surpassing last year’s medal haul in the process,” said the Minister who met the athletes upon their arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport this morning.
Minister Grange explained that the performances by field event athletes, Warren Barret Jnr and Zico Campbell, who both broke records in the shot put, were what really stood out for her. “My understanding is that the new marks set by Barrett and Campbell are right up there amongst the best in the world for their respective age groups,” the Minister said.
“This tells me that our field events coaches are doing a fantastic job. It also means the programme is on the right track and in a few more years, I’m expecting great things from our throwers,” she added.
The Minister said the performances of Shiann Salmon and Shannon Kalawan on the track, in addition to the Under-18 Boys’ 4x100m relays were superb. She also noted that Aiko Jones in the discus and new sprint sensation Nigel Ellis deserved special mention.
Special commendations were also given to those who gave stellar performances at the CARIFTA Swimming Championship; among them were Keanan Dols who set the only championship record in the 15-17 age group in the 200m individual medley and Emily MacDonald who broke Alia Atkinson’s record in the 50m freestyle. Dols best the field in a new mark of 2:07.27, while MacDonald lowered Atkinson’s old record of 28.23 with a fast 28.15 seconds.
“At the last minute I was called upon to assist by contributing $1 million to help offset the cost of sending the team. But they didn’t disappoint and I’m very proud of all our swimmers.” Minister Grange said.
In addition to congratulating the young athletes, the Minister also used the opportunity to commend and congratulate their parents, President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), Dr Warren Blake, the coaches and other team officials and support staff. “I look forward to a future filled with true excellence and dominance,” she added.
The track and field team ended the championships with a total of 86 medals: 42 gold, 28 silver and 16 bronze, while, the swim team ended with a total of 25 medals: 8 gold, 9 silver and 8 bronze.
Our sport ambassadors to the CARIFTA games did us very proud … amassing some 84 medals including 42 gold medals. We broke a number of records and won all 12 relays between the males and the female athletes. It was a magnificent display of athletic,prowess displayed. They must be saying to themselves what manner of creatures are these. Is it the water from the liguanea plains or from the blue mountain hill which has given our athletes so much stamina.
It is no accident that we are dominant … we have a very organized school sport programmes at the primary and high school levels. Development meets, nutrition programmes, and body conditioning/weight lifting are some of the manageable objectives which can produce positive outcomes.
Preparatory and basic schools seem to be getting their act together as it relates to starting at an early age. We are seeing promising results.
Sports Commentary is a special Vision feature that you will see no where else.
These athletes were worthy ambassadors of Jamaica.
Commentary by: Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie, Senior International Correspondent & photojournalist for Vision Newspaper Canada.