Tue | Aug 9, 2022

Carifta Games returns

Jamaican team seeks to continue regional track dominance

Published:Saturday | April 16, 2022 | 12:09 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Corey Bennett, head coach of Jamaica’s Carifta Games team.
Bryan Levell.
Tina Clayton.
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After a two-year absence, the Carifta Games will make its return at the National Stadium where Jamaica will look to prove its superiority on the track and its hosting capabilities on short notice of the event.

The 49th edition of the three-day competition begins this morning at 9 o’clock with the Caribbean territories competing for the first time since 2019 when COVID-19 led to the 2020 and 2021 cancellations. Jamaica was awarded hosting duties last November, giving organisers only five months to prepare for the regional showpiece track and field event.

Local Organising Committee Chairman, Mike Fennell, says that while they were dealing with last-minute arrangements, he is satisfied with their readiness to host and the work that has been done in the short space of time.

“We are in pretty good shape. Because other things were happening, the same staff members have been on duty because we don’t have the resources to bring in additional people, even under the circumstances the staff have done a remarkable job of doing everything on time,” Fennell told The Gleaner.

Jamaica head coach Corey Bennett says that while there were challenges in getting off the high that was the recent ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs), he feels that they are ready to embrace matching the high expectations in front of their home supporters.

EXPECTED TO DO WELL

“We just tried to keep the children mentally tuned in, trying to get them operating as one team. It’s hard to get rid of that (Champs) hangover because that is where the high was. But we are just trying to bring them down and get them back up for tomorrow,” Bennett said. “It’s another Carifta Games where we are expected to do well. I know sometimes the pressure seems a little high because we are in Jamaica. Nonetheless, we are all expected to do well at Carifta and this one is no different.”

Despite the two-year lay-off in competition and being in the friendly confines of the National Stadium, Bennett says he is not taking any country lightly as he is anticipating fierce battles over the Easter weekend.

“I’m expecting the competition to be fierce over the next couple of days. Bahamas and Trinidad will always bring it. There are some athletes who competed at Champs who will be competing for other countries so that should make it interesting,” Bennett said. “(But my team) are champions in their own right and I am expecting that they will go out there and deliver. There is nothing as pressuring as Champs and if you can deliver there, then you can deliver anywhere.”

While Bennett hopes that Carifta’s return will be one step closer to a return to athletics pre-pandemic, Fennell hopes that the junior athletes’ performances will be front and centre throughout.

“It is all for the athletes, it is for their benefit and hopefully this will allow us and try and see some future champions emerging,” Fennell said.

World Under-20 100 metres champion Tina Clayton of Edwin Allen High is a gold medal favourite in the Under-20 girls’ 100m which starts today and among the contenders for the Under-20 boys’ 100m is recent Class One double sprint champion Bryan Levell, also of Edwin Allen High School.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com