BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (Sporting Alert) — Defending champions Jamaica head into this weekend’s 44th edition of the CARIFTA Games confident about keeping their dominance and top the medal standings once again.
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The Caribbean powerhouses arrived in St Kitts earlier this week with another star-studded 78-member squad that includes several members who were dominant at the Jamaica high school track and field championships last week.
Headlining this list are World Junior and Youth Olympic Games champion Jaheel Hyde, Akeem Bloomfield, Michael O’Hara, Kimone Shaw, Lisa Buchanan and Natalliah Whyte.
Organizers of this year’s championships are expecting very good turn outs at the Silver Jubilee Stadium after revealing that tickets sales for the 2015 event have been going extremely well.
St. Kitts, which last hosted CARIFTA in 2008, will be hosting the Games for the second time in seven years and it brings excitement.
“The interest for the Games in St. Kitts and Nevis is definitely there,” Lester Hanley, Director of Marketing for CARIFTA 2015 told The Observer this week.
“People understand what CARIFTA is and are excited it’s back in St. Kitts.
“We are expecting a bumper crowd.”
The Games, as usual, brings the top junior athletes from 26 countries across the Caribbean and they will be battling in the Under-18 and Under-20 categories through the Easter holiday weekend.
Besides Jamaica, which has topped the medal tally in all but five of the CARIFTA Games in history — the likes of Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and Bahamas have always assembled quality squads and should hold their own.
The Jamaicans won 89 medals at last year’s Games — 42 gold, 34 silver and 13 bronze — with Trinidad & Tobago finishing second with 25 medals — 6 gold, 7 silver and 12 bronze.
Barbados won 16 total medals last year, including 5 gold, 5 silver and 6 bronze.
This year’s hosts, Saint Kitts and Nevis, won three medals last year — 1 silver and 2 bronze.
The highlighted events at these Games are generally the sprints and the relays, but respective officials from several leading countries are expecting the throws and the high and long jump events to be very competitive and exciting as well.