Climaxing what is expected to be an intense and competitive CARIFTA Trials, the executive team of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) has decided to glorify the athletes named to the junior regional squad through a gospel extravaganza on Sunday at the original Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium. The trials itself is set for Friday and Saturday at the new stadium.
BAAA President Drumeco Archer said it will be a time of praise and worship as they recognize more than 50 athletes who are expected to be named to the team on Sunday. To date, there are 45 qualifiers, including seven in more than one event. A number of them have never represented The Bahamas at CARIFTA before.
“We’re at the penultimate stage of team naming and I believe that the head-to-head competition at the trials will certainly change the dynamic of the team,” said Archer. “There are multiple qualifiers, and I think that will certainly bring out the best in the athletes on Friday and Saturday. We are asking the Bahamian public to come out and see a new generation of performers. I am really excited about the statistics, because looking at some of the numbers, out of the 45 who have qualified to date, there are only about 10 who would have made the CARIFTA team previously, so there is going to be a lot of new faces. I’m excited about that because as we continue to build our program, we want to continue to have new and improved performances. To think that there is more to come, that is a sensational story to tell.”
The trials will get underway at 5 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday. Over 300 young athletes, including about 100 from Grand Bahama and the Family Islands, are registered to compete. The team-naming gospel concert is set for 6 p.m. on Sunday.
“This is the first time that we will go into the trials with over 40 athletes having qualified,” said Kermit Taylor, vice president of marketing and public relations in the BAAA. “We anticipate a number of other athletes making the standards this weekend. We’re excited with the number of distance event qualifiers and the jumps and throws coaches have been doing an outstanding job and we have a number of qualifiers there as well. We want to take as many athletes as possible to the CARIFTA Games. As for the concert on Sunday, we don’t get to celebrate our athletes enough, so this year when we do it we will do it in the form of a celebration concert. We’re looking forward to that,” he added.
Set to perform at CARIFTA Team Bahamas Gospel Celebration at the original Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium on Sunday are Shaback, the Ramhing Brothers, and the St. John’s College and St. Anne’s School choirs. Admission is free. The CARIFTA Games is set for the Easter Holiday Weekend, April 20-22, at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.
The most productive events for the The Bahamas thus far, in terms of CARIFTA qualifiers, have been the under-17 girls 1500 meters (m), the under-17 boys 800m, the under-20 girls 400m and the under-20 boys high jump. Each event has four qualifiers. What is of particular concern is the number of qualifiers in the sprints. Just four athletes have qualified in the short sprints in both age groups and in both genders. Archer is optimistic that more sprinters will qualify at the trials.
“We are looking forward to the emergence of new athletes coming out of these trials,” said Archer. “A number of new athletes have qualified so far, and we have been monitoring their fitness levels and their progression levels and that’s important. Maintenance of our athletes has always been our Achilles heel. We need them to stay fit going into CARIFTA. Also, people are excited to see the familiar names at the trials. They want to see them compete and see what they could do. Head-to-head to competition at the trials is going to be vital, particularly for those events with multiple qualifiers. Failing to qualify at the trials, we will go with the best performances outside of the trials. Overall, we are looking forward to partying and celebrating on Friday and Saturday and praising and worshipping on Sunday.”
The Head Coach of Team Bahamas for the 48th CARIFTA Games in the Cayman Islands is Ali Rolle out of Freeport, Grand Bahama, and he will be assisted by Corrington Maycock. The Team Manager is Doris Ramsey and she will be assisted by Sophia Higgs out of Grand Bahama. The three team delegates are BAAA President Archer, BAAA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maybeline Miller and Laketah Charlton.
Building on an atmosphere in which local radio personalities were brought in to provide a spark at track and field meets, Archer said that it is their intention to once again provide that element of entertainment for fans.
“At the Odd Distance Meet earlier this year, we experimented with a battle of the DJs of sorts. We want to have a similar presentation this coming weekend,” said Archer. “It’s going to be a fun weekend for the kids and for everyone involved. This is going to be a sobering reflection on the hard work that would have been put in by both athletes and coaches,” he added.
Archer said that the CARIFTA Trials has always been a mandatory event for CARIFTA team selection, but they will have to consider overseas collegiate athletes who have achieved the respective standards but are unable to come home for the trials.
“There are a number of collegiate athletes who are still eligible who would love to compete on the CARIFTA team provided that they are given clearance by their respective schools. Consideration has to be given to those athletes who would have made the standards at their collegiate meets,” said Archer. “At the end of the day, we believe that we will be fine. We believe that the trials will produce the desired results and we will have a well-rounded team going to Cayman for the CARIFTA Games.”
Almost 400 athletes are expected to take part in the two-day trials, and come Sunday, the BAAA is expected to ratify a 50-plus member team.