The Cayman Islands Athletics Association announced Tuesday 14th March they would send a record 30 athletes to the Bahamas for the 2018 CARIFTA Games March 30th-April 2nd. With this being the largest group ever assembled, CIAA President Lance Barnes says they are making a statement on the future of the sport.
“This is a testament to our commitment, and we are committed to these athletes, and we know they’ll make us proud.”
There were no shortage of smiles at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex as both parents and CIAA executive members gathered to celebrate the historic event. CIAA Second Vice President and Team Manager Maxine Anglin assured parents in attendance the athletes are in good hands.
“We will take very good care of them no need to worry we are committed. The team going overseas are all committed, we have kids ourselves and we understand the role we need to play as parents.”
Anglin will be joined Head Coach Kenrick Williams, Assistant Manager Paula Dawkins, Assistant Coach Derek Larner and Physiotherapist Al Smith.
In past years, athletes have been selected without hitting qualifying times while some were left at home even after meeting the standards. Williams says this year’s group signals a philosophical makeover heading into the 2019 CARIFTA Games where Cayman will play host.
“With the Ministry’s input, we think we are going for a big show down there, and I hope it translates into next year when we are hosting the games.”
Regardless of the newfound inclusive approach to athlete participation, the real winners are the athletes who will get their chance to compete with the regions best.
“I’m hoping to try my best be competitive and possibly medal” says Ava Hider. The 15-year old middle distance specialist was the only athlete of the group to hit the qualifying standards for three events: under-17 girls 800, 1500 and 3000 meters. The 345 Athletics Club member will compete in both the 1500 and 3000 meters.
Falcons Athletics Jaden Francis says “it feels really good especially since last year seeing last year my times were in the finals so it got me excited last year.” The Cayman Prep standout set new records for year 10 girls at the 2017 Private School Association Track and Field Championships in the 100, 200 and 400 meters as well as in the 4×100 relay. Francis will run in the under-17 girls 200 meters and relay in Bahamas.
First time CARIFTA delegate and John Gray High School student Gary Rankin, who will run in the under-20 boys 4×100 relay says “I know we are going to good and I believe we can come first.” Teammate and fellow first timer Najae Gordon agrees.
“I think Cayman has a high chance in the 4×100 because everyone on the team is very good sprinters and once we work on the exchange, I think we can do very good.”
A sign of good things to come in Cayman Athletics, both on and off the field.
Here’s a look at the entire list of athletes that will compete at the 2018 CARIFTA Games: