Given The Bahamas’ sensational performances in both aquatics and athletics at CARIFTA over the Easter holiday weekend, a joint celebration was staged by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture inside the foyer of the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium yesterday. Also invited were the CARIFTA water polo squad and Danielle Thompson from tennis – a member of The Bahamas’ Fed Cup team which recently placed second to host nation Peru in the Americas Zone Group III.
The swim team won its third straight CARIFTA title, and fifth in the past six years, while hauling a record 73 medals including a record 35 gold in Wildey, Barbados. They added 18 silver and 20 bronze medals. The 26-member squad scored 889.50 overall points compared to 748 for second place Jamaica, and 676 for Trinidad and Tobago which finished third.
The track and field squad won its most gold medals since 2012 in Hamilton, Bermuda, and second most since 1986. They finished with nine gold, seven silver and 10 bronze for a total of 26 medals – good enough for second behind perennial champions Jamaica in George Town, Cayman Islands. The Bahamas earned its second straight second place finish, and fourth in the past five years.
In recognizing the teams, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle said the time has come for these young athletes to receive the attention and praise that certainly deserve.
“It gives me great pleasure to recognize the hard work of our 2019 CARIFTA athletes. Your performances were nothing short of exceptional and for this you ought to be proud,” said the minister. “Our country is grateful and history will forever remember your names and your performances. You have shared with the world a little of our culture, and you have secured our status as a world-class sports powerhouse. Through sports, this little dot on the map appears larger, and indeed because of you, the world knows our name. Today, we congratulate each and every one of you. We thank the parents, coaches, family members and fans for giving you the necessary support. May you continue to excel, may you continue to succeed and may you continue to represent our country with dignity and pride. May the Lord continue to bless the talents of each and every one of you.”
The minister heaped praises on both the athletics and aquatics squads, tennis sensation Danielle Thompson and also highlighted the performances of the Special Olympics Bahamas squad which won 14 medals at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), last month.
Speaking on behalf of the swimming team, Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF) President Algernon Cargill congratulated the athletes, coaches, management team, family and friends and all the supporters who travelled to Barbados and who offered their well-wishes from home in The Bahamas.
“The performances of our water polo and swimming teams were not easy, although the athletes made it seem easy,” said Cargill. “Our goal was to travel to Barbados to three-peat as CARIFTA Champions and we did that. The Bahamas has gained the respect of all countries as being an aquatics powerhouse in the region. The challenge for us right now is to transition this success from the junior level where we seem to dominate to the Olympic level like our good friends in track and field. That has to be our focus going forward.”
There were numerous fantastic performances from Team Bahamas in Barbados. In the 11-12 boys category, Marvin Johnson won the high point award, scoring 90 points and carting off 10 individual gold medals. He won 14 gold medals in total. Izaak Bastian broke three CARIFTA records, and Luke Kennedy-Thompson won The Bahamas’ first ever gold medal in CARIFTA swimming in the open boys 1,500 meters (m) freestyle event.
In CARIFTA track and field, The Bahamas won nine gold medals – three more than the previous year. A couple of the gold medalists were in attendance yesterday.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) Mabeline Miller said that the team did extremely well, and heaped praises on members of the team yesterday.
Anthaya Charlton won three individual medals – two gold medals and one bronze. Terrance Jones won gold in the under-20 boys 400 meters (m) and recorded the second fastest time in the word this year in the under-18 category in the process. His time of 46.29 seconds was more than a second faster than his previous personal best time, and he also added a bronze in the 200m. Keyshawn Strachan won gold in the under-17 boys javelin in a new CARIFTA record. Shaun Miller Jr. won his second CARIFTA gold medal in a high jump event – in the under-17 division in 2017, and now in the under-20 division in 2019. Other athletes such as Wendell Miller, Jasmine Knowles, Mitchell Curtis and Rhema Otabor won stunning gold medals for The Bahamas.
The season is not over for The Bahamas’ junior athletes in athletics and aquatics.
Track and field athletes can now turn their attention to the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Under-18 and Under-23 Championships and the Pan American Junior Championships which are both set for this summer; and swimming athletes can focus on qualifying for the CCCAN (Central American and Caribbean Swimming Federation) Championships, which is also set for this summer.
They can qualify for the international meets at their respective national championships which will be held in June.