The first Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) Games took place in Barbados in 1972. Every year after that, the games represented a showcase of the Caribbean’s most incredible athletic talents in our youth. It’s an event that many young athletes see as their last hurrah before needing to start ‘adulting’. But that is not what this article is about. Today, we celebrate the greatness of young people who put it all on the line and put on a fantastic show.
This year, Jamaica hosted the 49th staging of the games after Guyana decided to pull out of its responsibility. Even with the hiccups, the experience was positive, and athletes could perform their best. Bravo, Jamaica, for stepping in and creating a memorable experience in short order.
CARIFTA For The Record
In proving the calibre of the CARIFTA Games, all sorts of records fell to the power of the competitors. Conquering records is a regular occurrence in the Games. Athletes come to the Games with records in mind. The greatest thing about these Games is that the heart of a lion is all the athletes need. There are no financial incentives for breaking records at the Games. As explained by veteran sports journalist, Noel Francis, “If athletes were paid during the Games, it would jeopardize their chances of getting scholastic scholarships as they would be seen as professional athletes.” At the CARIFTA Games, athletes do it because they want their names to go down in history.
This staging of the Games proved a perfect environment for breaking records. Records fell in both field events and on the track. The women’s world under-20 4 x 100m record fell to the spectacular team of Serena Cole, Tina Clayton, Brianna Lyston and Tia Clayton. The dynamic crew lowered the record to a blistering 42.58 seconds. Adding to the demolition of records at the Games was the little powerhouse from Nassau Bahamas, Dior-Rae Scott. She threw the winning distance of 44.57. Correspondingly, the CARIFTA under 17 female discuss record fell under the pressure of Dionjah Shaw who threw 45.32. Although this performance didn’t top her previous record set a week earlier, it was enough to guarantee her the gold, at these Games. Continuing the tally of broken records, Michelle Smith from the Virgin Islands hurdled her way into the record books by setting the standard at 58.61. Her event was the 400m hurdles.
One Of A Kind
As much as the next athlete did not break any records, her performance at the Games earned her the Most Oustanding Athlete award. Adaejah Hodge of the British Virgin Islands put on a spectacular performance winning gold in the U17 100m, 200m, and Long Jump. To prove her dominance, Adaejah completed her winning jump of 6.20 and then jogged over to the 200m to join the line up. She went on to win the gold in a time of 23.42 seconds.
The Games were amazing. The athletes will tell their stories for years to come. Their performances inspire the next generation of runners. They also impressed Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser Price, and middle distance Olympian Natoya Goule-Topping, who made sure to attend the Games. Check out the final point standing below.