Sports

Junior Female Athlete of the Year

Following in the footsteps of her sister Devynne who is still a prime performer for The Bahamas, Anthaya Charlton made a name for herself this year, endearing herself into the hearts of Bahamians for her fantastic performances.

She was named as The Nassau Guardian’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year for 2019, finishing with 29 points – just one point short of a unanimous selection.

Charlton was a triple medalist at the 2019 CARIFTA Games in George Town, Cayman Islands, in April, setting herself up as a finalist for the coveted Austin Sealy Award which is given to the meet’s best athlete. Charlton struck gold in both the under-17 girls 100 meters (m) and long jump and settled for bronze in the 100m hurdles. She was certainly the darling of the regional junior meet for The Bahamas – helping the archipelagic nation to another second place finish behind Jamaica overall.

What really stood out this year was Charlton’s stunning ability to get progressively better as the year went along. She produced personal best after personal best in a number of her events – almost across the board – and seemed to get better as the season went along.

Charlton saved her best performances for the biggest stages. At CARIFTA, she climaxed the meet with a pair of personal best runs – winning the 100m in a blazing 11.51 seconds to take home the fastest under-17 female sprinter of the region title, and then finished third in a personal best time of 13.83 seconds in the 100m hurdles.

Charlton was fantastic in the long jump as well, popping a leap of 5.81m (19′ 0-3/4″) to win gold for The Bahamas. That was a personal best mark for her at the time, and her second gold medal of the weekend. Charlton went on to surpass that personal best mark at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-18 and Under-23 Championships in Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico. She leapt a new personal best 5.86m (19’ 2-3/4”) for the gold, and was one of the standout performers for The Bahamas at that meet. She helped The Bahamas win 26 total medals at CARIFTA – nine gold, seven silver and 10 bronze; and eight total medals at the NACAC meet – three gold, four silver and one bronze. The Bahamas was second at CARIFTA behind Jamaica, and fifth at the NACAC Under-18 and Under-23 Championships.

As she gets older, Charlton will certainly specialize, but for now, she is a top notch performer for The Bahamas in a number of events including all of the sprints, all of the jumps and the short hurdles.

Remarkably, she is still just 16-years-old and has three more years remaining as a junior athlete. Charlton is gradually creeping up on junior national records of 11.20 seconds in the 100m (Anthonique Strachan), 13.51 seconds in the 100m hurdles (Krystal Bodie) and 6.41m (21’ 0-1/2”) in the long jump (Daphne Saunders).

Finishing second in voting for The Nassau Guardian’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year for 2019 was local tennis star Sydney Clarke. Clarke, 18, just recently lost her title at the Giorgio Baldacci Open Nationals, falling in straight sets to the country’s number one player Kerrie Cartwright, 7-6 and 6-3.

However, Clarke was fantastic again this year, winning yet another title and making finals in singles and double on the regional tennis tour. She ended the year with an International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) Junior Ranking of number 711. In doubles, she won a doubles titles in St. Vincent & the Grenadines and made finals in Trinidad & Tobago and Antigua & Barbuda. In singles, she made finals in Trinidad & Tobago and Antigua & Barbuda.

Clarke is certainly The Bahamas’ number one junior female tennis player today. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to play collegiate tennis with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers. Clarke has been ranked as high as No. 261 in the world on the ITF junior circuit and has six victories over American players currently in the top 100 according to tennisrecruiting.com.

She is a two-time member of The Bahamas’ Fed Cup team (2017 and 2019).

Young athletic stars Rhema Otabor and Jasmine Knowles, both 17, and both individual gold medalists from the CARIFTA Games this year, finished third and fourth respectively for The Nassau Guardian’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year for 2019. Basketball standout Michelle Butler, who led the St. John’s College Giants to both the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) senior girls title and The Bahamas’ National High School Basketball Championship, was fifth in voting.

Butler, 17, was also a member of The Bahamas’ national team at the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Americas U17 Centrobasket Championships this year, and helped lead The Bahamas to a sixth place finish. Butler was the leading scorer and rebounder for The Bahamas in that tournament, averaging 16.4 points and 11.6 rebounds per game.

The full breakdown of points for junior female athletes in The Bahamas as voted on by The Nassau Guardian’s Sports Team is listed with this article.

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Sheldon Longley

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.

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