Carifta homecoming! - Swimmers, track and field athletes lauded for achievements at regional championships
Jamaica's junior athletes in swimming and track and field were recognised for their achievements at the Carifta Championships at a function hosted by Sports Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange at the Norman Manley International Airport's VIP Lounge.
Jamaica won 86 medals - 42 gold, 28 silver and 16 bronze - at the Carifta Games in St Georges, Grenada. The total accumulated by the team of 80 boys and girls was the second highest number won by Jamaica at the regional showpiece.
This year 20 swimmers swept 25 medals - eight gold, nine silver and eight bronze. The team also had 12 other swimmers making finals along, with 25 personal bests.
"I was really passionate. I was there with you in spirit, and I just want to say the Carifta Games has been our stamping ground over the last 45 years so it is not surprising that we dominated the competition, equalling last year's medal haul in the process," Grange underlined of the track and field stars.
In lauding the swimmers, she said: "You have done exceptionally well. You have come back from Martinique with 25 medals and you have made us exceptionally proud."
Jamaica hold the record for the most medals at the track and field championships, 88 overall.
The record-breakers on the track and field team were Zico Campbell (U18 boys' shot put), Warren Barrett Jr. (U20 boys' shot put), female Under-20 400m hurdler, Shannon Kalawan, who replaced a 13-year-old record, Shian Salmon (U18 400m hurdles) and the boys' Under-18 4x100 metres relay team of Michael Stephens, Christopher Taylor, Jhevaughn Matherson and Dejour Russell.
"We feel really excited," said head coach Reynaldo Walcott. "To be fair, it was a conservative effort; we have to ensure the safety of our athletes first and foremost, so we feel good team Jamaica did well, and I'd like to just encourage the kids to keep doing their best."
In the pool, Keanan Dols set a new 15-17 age group record of 2:07.80 minutes in the 15-17 boys' 200-metre individual medley. In the preliminaries of the event, he lowered the 2004 record of 2:08.15 by Barbadian Olympian Bradley Ally.
Emily McDonald broke Olympian Alia Atkinson's 50m freestyle record (28.23) with a time of 28.15 seconds.
The swimmers, who were experiencing financial challenges, received a $1 million boost from the Sports Development Foundation.
ASAJ president, Handel Lamey, thanked the minister, sponsors, parents, stakeholders and the supporters on behalf of his team.
"On behalf of the swimming fraternity, aquatics in Jamaica, we would like to say a big thank you and continue to support us," said Daley.
The sports minister said celebrations would soon be announced for both teams.