As I had alluded to in an earlier blog, Jamaica has once again dominated the just concluded CARIFTA Games which were held in Martinique. The dominance was even greater this year as the country snared a record 88 medals, four more than the country won back in 2004 when it took home a record 84 medals from Bermuda.
The medal haul was also more than those of the next the next seven teams combined and that includes 25 medals from Trinidad and 20 from the Bahamas. Jamaica’s 42 gold medals, was almost double the number of gold medals (24) won by all the other nations. It was complete domination. It bears noting that had it not been for an injury to Raheem Chambers while running the anchor leg on the Under-18 boys sprint relay, the country would have celebrated another gold medal as Jamaica was 10 metres ahead of Barbados when the injury occurred and even then Jamaica only lost by 0.02 seconds as Chambers bravely limped towards the finish line. Jamaica also won 34 silver medals and 12 bronze medals. What the medal table demonstrated quite clearly is that for the most part, only Jamaicans were capable of beating Jamaicans at these CARIFTA Games.
There were other injuries as well that beyond the Games will impact Jamaica at the Penn Relays that come up in a few days’ time. But while unfortunate, it is all part of the sport. I say this because there are people out there who will unjustly blame the games for their schools not being able to be at their best at the upcoming relays.
It was another commanding performance that saw the Under-20 boys set a very fast sprint relay record 39.38s. There were also other outstanding performances as well. Vashon McClarty, who so infamously, kept out of Champs this year won two gold medals, so too did Jaheel Hyde. We also witnessed a return to health of Michael O’Hara who won the 200m in 20.50s, the same time that Jevaughn Minzie won with at Champs 2014. Minzie, who won the 100m in 10.18s, was second on 20.56. Jamaica also dominated the relays, which speaks to the depth of talent contained within the Jamaican talent pool.
When held up for scrutiny and compared to Jamaica’s dominant performance, the Bahamas, the only other country to have won the Games on more than one occasion, must be sorely disappointed with their tally of only 20 medals and only one gold. The Bahamians have fancied themselves challengers to Jamaica’s long rule at the CARIFTA roost so in that light there performances will have been wanting, especially when one considers that the Bahamas won eight gold medals just last year.
Trinidad finished second overall but their six gold is also down from the eight they won last year. Barbados won five gold medals in Martinique, one of which was due to the afore-mentioned injury to Raheem Chambers.
So while Jamaica’s stock keeps rising, the fortunes of those other nations that are expected to keep this country on it’s toes, are at best fluctuating. It was the fiercely competitive Tonique Williams, the 2004 Olympic and 2005 World 400-metre champion, who said recently that Bahamas wants to beat Jamaica. I am sure Jamaica welcomes the challenge but when the country you want to beat snares 42 gold medals and yours wins one, it would suggest that you have a long way to go to make that possible.
Anybody looking on can see clearly that Jamaica’s system of developing young athletes work in the best interest of continuing to produce great talent, but I am afraid the same cannot be said for the Bahamas, Trinidad or Barbados, countries seen as perhaps the greatest challengers to Jamaica’s dominance. These three countries won all of 12 gold medals at CARIFTA this year. Jamaica won more than three times as many.
I am afraid these is still a lot of work to do if these CARIFTA Games are to become competitive any time soon.