O'Hara ruled out as Carifta Games begins
Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA will be gunning to dominate their regional rivals again when competition at the 2013 Carifta Games starts today at the new Thomas Robinson Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas.
The team suffered a big blow early yesterday when top Under-17 sprinter/hurdler Calabar High's Michael O'Hara was ruled out after being diagnosed with chicken pox by team doctor Gwyn Jones. O'Hara was expected to be a gold-medal contender in the Under-17 100 metres and 110m hurdles.
Some 26 countries and more than 480 athletes are down to compete over the next three days.
After bagging 78 medals in Bermuda last year and following some tremendous performances from most of the athletes two weeks ago at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships, head coach David Riley is very optimistic going into the Games, despite losing the services of ace sprinter O'Hara.
"The vibes among the athletes is really great and, despite a little disappointment in O'Hara not being able to compete, the athletes are committed and are ready to go, and they are even more motivated because of this. Although the home team is expected to thrive on their local support, we are ready for the challenge," said Riley, who thinks that the team can go near or surpass last year's haul.
Forty Jamaicans are down to compete today, with three defending champions among them. These are Gleneve Grange, who will be the first Jamaican to be in action as she will be doing the 100 metres hurdles at 8 a.m (Ja time), one of five events in the girls' pentathlon which she won last year with 3,292 points.
The other defending champions who will see action are discus thrower Fedrick Dacres and sprinter Jazeel Murphy.
Dacres, the World Junior discus champion, will compete in the Under-20 discus final at 9 a.m. Murphy will compete in the preliminary round of the Under-20 boys 100 metres at 4:30 p.m, with the final set for later in the evening at 7:30 p.m., the final event of the opening day.
Four finals are down to be contested in the morning session, high-jump Under-20 girls, shot put Under-17 girls, javelin Under-17 boys, and discus Under-20 boys. The evening session features another 14 finals, with 12 on the track and two in the field.