Jamaica smashed the world record at CARIFTA Games

The second day of the CARIFTA Games kicked under a magnificent blue sky lit by a typical Caribbean sun, a picture perfect day for track and field; the youngsters did not disappoint.

The day started with the 400 and 800 metres hurdles for both boys and girls. On the field side, long jump, javelin and shot put and high jump took center stage for boys and girls. There were some splendid performances, and another day of Jamaican dominance.

Lucretia Green, a member of the Jamaica tourism team, suggested that one of the reasons for Jamaica’s success may be that there’s a college in Jamaica dedicated to sport.

“College is responsible for putting out a lot of talent not only on the field, but [they also gradate] coaches and other disciplines in track and field arena…that is the main reason why our athletes do so well on the world stage, plus the fact that they have seen a lot of Jamaicans being successful in athletics.”

She is not the only one who is high on the future of Jamaican Athletics. I also had the pleasure of speaking to Mike Fennell the chairperson for the games.

A look at the leaderboard at about 2 p.m. showed the dominance of Jamaicans. They lead in the standings with 32 medals, including 13 golds; Trinidad and Tobago followed with 12 medals (2 golds); British Virgin Islands and Guyana won 2 a piece. Jamaica won more medals than the rest of the teams combined – a testament to the hard work they put into developing their young athletes.

Talking to Mike Fennell 

Mike Farnell

Caribbean Camera: What made you take on these CARIFTA games?

Mike Fennell: We have had several challenges because of the covid pandemic, and not just in sports but in the business and all other sectors. Over the last two years we have concentrated on protection, security, safety and wellness. Everybody would agree that while you are doing that you also have to prepare for getting on and doing things. We do have to think about how to operate within all the protections. As far as sport is concerned we have a desperate need to get back to having events not just for the sake of having events but for the sake of the people involved in the events. 

CC: I’ve noticed that over the last two years a certain amount of young people would have missed out on opportunities because everything was shut down. 

MF: Yes, several of them would have aged over the last two years and that will have an impact on their careers.

When we took the games on we did so during the time of severe restrictions. So we started our planning accepting the restrictions. Nobody could forecast what would happen in April of 2022 but COVID has not disappeared, it’s just that more responsibilities are placed on the individual.

You asked me why I accepted the job? I am totally committed to the impact of sport on our society not just for the young athletes but for their physical and mental development. It’s not only good for sports itself but it’s also good for society and great for a country like Jamaica, which is open to visitors.

So we are doing this knowing that we are reviving the CARIFTA Games after an absence of two years. We have also resumed an activity which will ensure that the world knows that Jamaica is not standing by but we are ready to go. Our tourism minister has made sure that there’s no opportunity lost as well. He was once minister of sport so he understands more than most how important sport is to the country.

What sport has done for brand Jamaica is immeasurable, and what sports can do for having events like this for the tourism product. The people who are coming to Jamaica, to the stadium, may not be sports-loving people but they are coming to a country where things are going on. What better way to do something for our youngsters? Around the world, Jamaica and the Caribbean we are concerned about the behavior of our youngsters. I say when they do the right things, let us support them by staging CARIFTA GAMES for our young people. We’re following a very constructive path.  

CC: So what were you involved in before coming out of retirement?

MF: I spend a lot of time with Berger Paints; then I was head of Air Jamaica for a while; I manage one of the largest law firms in the Caribbean; I was the president of the Jamaica Olympic Association, and for 17 years I was also head of the Commonwealth Games Federation.  

CC: I understand that there are scouts from America and the UK looking at the young talent on display.

MF: This is quite common. Last week we had Mega Champs and the same Scouts are here. They would like to put them in their programs with scholarships etc.  

CC: Do you think having Champs so close to this event would help or hurt the athletes?

In a way because the primary focus of the attention for the kids should be school work, this is their education and it’s very important to them. But we regard this as an important link in the whole development process with their education.  We also chose this time so that it does not interfere with their normal school. This is Easter weekend. Secondly with our Champs last week they would not have too much of a gap to go and do other things; best follow through right away.

Some second day results:

Some highlights from today include the Boys Under-17 Triple Jump. Jamaica’s Chavez Penn and Euan Young of Jamaica took gold and silver. Jonathan Rogers of the Bahamas took the bronze

In the Girls Under-20 3,000 meter run, Samantha Pryce of Jamaica took gold, while, Attoya Harvey of Guyana won silver. with Ashara Frater of Jamaica took bronze.

The main highlight was the Girls UNDER-20 4×100 relay. Jamaica smashed the world record sending the home crowd into a frenzy. Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago followed in that order.  

In the Boys Under-20, Jamaica led the field followed by Bahamas and Cayman Islands.