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Miller, Otabor win gold medals in the field

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – After watching his younger sister win her first CARIFTA medal in the morning session, Shaun Miller came back in the evening session and kept the ball rolling, winning gold for The Bahamas in the under-20 boys high jump.

The multi-talented athlete leapt a personal best 2.16 meters (m) – 7′ 1″ – to snatch the gold medal away from a pair of Jamaicans at the 48th CARIFTA Games at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. At the end of competition on Saturday, in all of the events, The Bahamas had six gold medals and three bronze for a total of nine medals.

After dropping the bar down once at 2.14m (7′ 0-1/4″) and dropping to second in the under-20 boys high jump, Miller reclaimed the lead when he soared over the bar on his second attempt at 2.16m. Jamaicans Horatio Humphrey and Romaine Beckford both cleared 2.14m, and finished second and third respectively. Humphrey edged Beckford based on number of knockdowns. Finishing fourth in the competition was hometown favorite Louis Gordon of the Cayman Islands. He had a best height of 2.11m (6′ 11″). Bahamian Travis Joseph also cleared 2.11m, but had to settle for fifth based on number of knockdowns.

“It was a really tough competition. I just put God first and was able to come out with a victory, so I’m really happy about that,” said Miller. “The gold medal feels great – another one added to the medal count. I just want to thank the Bahamian people for all the support – 242!”

Miller, who won the CARIFTA title in the under-17 boys division two years ago, seemed confident throughout the competition, even after knocking down the bar at 2.14m, and briefly slipping from first to second in the competition.

Rhema Otabor wasn’t going to be outdone in the under-20 girls javelin. She had a massive personal best throw of 43.07m (141′ 4″) for gold in that event. Trinidad & Tobago finished second and third, with Antonia Sealy second with a throw of 42.34m (138′ 11″), and Kemoy Noray third with a throw of 41.58m (136′ 5″). The other Bahamian in that event, Latia Saunders, finished fourth with a best throw of 39.48m (129′ 6″).

“It’s an amazing accomplishment, and I’m very happy that I got the gold,” said Otabor. “This tells me where I am so far, and that I have to work even harder to get where I want to be, but overall, I’m very happy with my performance.”

It was a golden run for The Bahamas in the under-17 boys 1,500m. Mitchell Curtis breezed past Jamaican J’Voughn Blake on the home stretch, winning in 4:09.34. Blake finished second in 4:10.52, and Nathan Armstrong of Bermuda held on for third, in 4:11.47. The other Bahamian in that race, Omar Kelly Jr., finished 11th in 4:32.95.

“Going around the last stretch, I just decided that I needed to go,” said Curtis. “On such a big stage, it’s easy to get super nervous but the experience from running last year definitely helped me with confidence going into this race. It feels very good to win. I had to put my heart into that race, and I felt like I represented the country well. Training in Kenya for the time that I was there helped a lot. That was not easy at all, and the experience paid off.”

Mitchell’s older brother Gabriel Curtis settled for third in the under-20 boys 1,500m, finishing in 3:58.11. After leading for almost the last two laps of the race, Curtis couldn’t hold off the Jamaican duo of Tyrese Reid and Fabian Campbell. Reid came from behind to win in 3:55.38, and Campbell was second in 3:56.23.

“It ended up coming down to the kick, but I’m happy with the experience and happy to represent Team Bahamas,” said Gabriel Curtis. “I had my game plan and I was trying not to worry about what everyone else did. It was nerve-wrecking trying to go for it, but I just went out there and ran the best that I could run. It didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to, but it was a good experience.”

Regarding his brother’s gold medal, Gabriel said that’s an awesome feat and he’s glad that younger brother Mitchell is representing their family name and The Bahamas so well.

The two Bahamians in the under-17 girls 1,500m finished ninth and 10th. Akaya Lightbourne was ninth in 5:21.90, and Jodie Ritchie finished 10th in 5:36.85.

In the under-17 boys long jump, the two Bahamians finished eighth and 10th. Otto Laing was eighth with a distance of 6.31m (20′ 8-1/2″). Mateo Smith finished 10th with a jump of 6.27m (20′ 7″).

The Bahamas has an opportunity to pick up a couple medals in the open boys octathlon. Patrick Johnson is leading the competition going into the final day of competition with 2,817 points. In the final two events on Saturday, he had a massive throw in the shot put which really put him in the lead, and was seventh in the 400m.

Johnson had the leading throw of 13.70m (44′ 11-1/2″) in the shot put, and a time of 52.31 seconds in the 400m. Jamaican David Edmonson is currently in second place with 2,777 points, and Jacque Edwards, of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is third, currently with 2,705 points. Bahamian Edvaughn Carey is just a single point out of the bronze medal position, He has 2,704 points compared to 2,705 for Edwards.

Carey had the third-best throw in the shot put on Saturday, finishing with a distance of 12.16m (39′ 10-3/4″). He had the fourth-fastest time in the 400m, circling the track in 51.43 seconds.

In the open girls heptathlon, The Bahamas is currently sixth and seventh with Hiltranique Pinder sitting in sixth and Kasha Neilly in seventh. Pinder has 2,610 points and Neilly has 2,367 points. In the final two events on Saturday, Pinder was sixth in the shot put with a throw of 8.70m (28′ 6-1/2″), and had the sixth-fastest time in the 200m, 26.73 seconds. Neilly was eighth in the shot put with a throw of 7.14m (23′ 5-1/4″), and had the eighth-best run in the 200m, 27.35 seconds.

The Bahamas is looking to build on its medal count on Easter Sunday.

Sheldon Longley

Sports Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting
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