The Cayman Islands Athletics Association (CIAA) has announced the biggest team in the programme’s history with 52 amateur track and field stars getting their chance to medal on home soil 20-22 April in the 48th CARIFTA Games.
With just 12 athletes hitting either A-or B-Standards in 15 events over an abbreviated season, Athletics President Lance Barnes says the Association was comfortable with the results they saw on the track to name a team of this size.
“They have been consistent,” said Barnes. “There was delay with the track, so we took everything into consideration. They worked hard. We are at home, and this is an opportunity to shine. We are confident the team we named will do well.”
In 2018, CIAA sent a previous high of 30 athletes to the 47th CARIFTA Games which yielded five medals. With the loss of medalists Lacee Barnes and Daneliz Thomas, who accounted for three of those medals, Barnes hopes the large delegation will set the stage for long term results.
“This is a process of development,” said Barnes. “We hope this experience will help them next year, and other years to come.”
One sprinter looking forward to proving himself is 18-year old Michael Smikle. The Mustang Track Club standout smashed the Under-20 Boys 800-metre field in Jamaica back in February with a personal best of 1:55.37 at the Camperdown Classic.
“I’ve been training hard in spite of the fact we were off the track for six weeks,” said Smikle. “When you have people depending on you, you want to make them proud.”
After winning bronze in the relay last year, Mustang Track Club’s Danneika Lyn says it was a pleasant surprise to be selected once again.
“I never thought I would have got selected because I never ran the time,” said Lyn. “Hopefully, I will do my best next week.”
In fact, a core of sprinters who won both silver in the Boys Under-17 4×100 relay, and bronze in the Girls Under-17 relay made this year’s team. Falcon Athletics Jaden Francis returns to relay alongside teammate Ashantae Graham. Francis will run in both the 200-and 400-metres, while Graham will compete in both the 100-metres and long jump. For Under-17 Boys, Hytech’s Neil Brown-McLennon will aim to medal once again alongside Mustang Track Club’s Errol Smith in relay. Both sprinters are also slated for work in the 200-metres.
After finishing sixth overall in the 1500-metres and fourth in the 3000-metres in 2018, 15-year old Levi Superville was selected for both events once again. The 345 Athletics Club standout was one of four athletes to hit CARIFTA cuts in the season opener, and is poised to crack the podium in just his second CARIFTA Games.
For Under-20 Boys, Cayman will have their eyes fixated on both high jumper Louis Gordon and hurdler Rasheem Brown.
Gordon, 18, is currently the top jumper in the region after setting a personal best of 2.13-metres in February. The Kingston College senior recently became just the second Cayman born athlete to win an individual title at the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Grace Kennedy Boys & Girls Athletics Championship.
Brown, 19, won February’s National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Indoor Track & Field national title in the 60-metre hurdles, and is currently the leading 110-metre hurdler in the NAIA’s outdoor season. He finished fourth overall in the Boys Under-20 110-metre hurdles last year after winning silver in both 2016 and 2017.
To view the entire list of athletes who will compete at the CARIFTA Games by event click here.