Regional track and field powerhouse Jamaica is poised to once again ‘JAMINATE’ when it unleashes the customary heavy artillery at the 46th CARIFTA Games which gets underway at the Ergilio Hato Stadium in Willemstad, Curacao from April 15 – 17, 2017.
Another dominating performance at the regional age group championships is envisaged as the perennial table toppers will be represented by a strong contingent of 84 with 41 girls and 43 boys competing across the Under 20 and 18 categories.
Jamaica won 86 medals at the 2016 CARIFTA Games held in Grenada and with a powerful team once again set to don the famous black, green and gold, the regional kingpins could emulate or even surpass that medal haul.
The Under 18 Girls cohort is headed by ‘Champs’ record breakers Kevona Davis and Britany Anderson as well as US-based sprinter Brianna Williams. Others such as defending sprint hurdles champion Daszay Freeman and standouts Michae Harriott, Cemore Donald and Lamara Distin are also expected to lead the medal rush in this category.
Junelle Bromfield who won the 800m in 2016 is the headline act among the Girls U20 team and will be looking to stamp her class over 400m. Proven campaigners Nicolee Foster, Shiann Salmon, Tissana Hickling and Janeek Brown are just a few of the other top athletes in a strong U20 Girls unit. Anika Brissett, regarded by many as one of the ‘stories’ of Champs will be looking to leave a mark at her first CARIFTA Games in what has been a remarkable comeback season.
Michael Stephens, Dejour Russell, Jeremy Farr, Kimar Farquharson and Antonio Watson are some of the marquee names in the Boys U18 squad that is expected to ‘Jaminate’ proceedings. The outstanding Christopher Taylor heads the Boys U20 and he will be the heavy favourite to win yet another 400m title after triumphing at the U18 level.
Carey McLeod, winner of the Long and Triple Jumps at Champs, Kevin Nedrick, Roje Stona and Timor Barrett are a few of the other heavyweights expected to flex their muscles against Caribbean rivals.
One of the most interesting participants for Jamaica will be the improving sprinter Jelani Walker of St. George’s College who missed ‘Champs’ under controversial circumstances. Missing from the Jamaican team is last year’s U18 100m champion Jhevaughn Matherson who picked up an injury in the semi-finals of that event at the recently concluded Jamaican high school track and field championships.
Written by J. Dario Chin
Athlete profile photos by Ewan Scott for JAAA