BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - WITH the buzz still in the air following the recent launch of the 50th Edition of the CARIFTA Games to be staged in The Bahamas, preparations are underway for team St. Kitts and Nevis to send a large contingent to the premier junior track and field meet.
CARIFTA Games has been the hallmark of the CARICOM integration movement and it brings together young aspiring international athletes from across the region to showcase their athletics prowess.
It has been used as a stepping stone for some of the world’s best, including the likes of Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
Now, with the Games moving up north, out of the West (Jamaica), St. Kitts-Nevis Athletics has already stepped up preparations for a contingent of both track and field athletes to compete at the April 7-9 Games in Nassau.
The athletics association has oftentimes been napping in the blocks when it comes to preparation of athletes for the meet.
During any given season, the SKNA, formerly the SKNAAA, would select the team closer to the Games at the start of the new year, coinciding with the start of the scholastic season, but with little time to prepare the athletes.
Now, SKNA’s President, Delwayne Delaney is changing that by giving the younger athletes more training opportunities and providing a platform for more of them to qualify.
Delaney told SKNVibes Sports that they have formed a squad earlier so that they have a core group of young potential athletes to train as a unit.
“We want to ensure that they get meets, not only locally but regionally. We are also partnering with neighbouring islands such as Tortola, Antigua, St. Maartin and Anguilla to join us as well for our junior championship, create that sort of pre-CARIFTA feel within our small territory,” Delaney explained.
The Federation, over the years, has had a tendency of only qualifying athletes in the track arena, but that has tended to be slowly shifting. Last year there was representation in the jumping pits, and that could be changing for next year in Nassau.
The SKNA has written a proposal to World Athletics and was successful in receiving funding to further develop field disciplines, which would be a boost.
President of the St. Kitts-Nevis Olympic Committee, Alphonso Bridgewater, has for years been championing to have more field athletes represented.
“Over the next three months, we will be preparing those three athletes for the field events and the unpopular events for track fans. We would like to ensure that a fully rounded team is travelling to CARIFTA 50,” acknowledged Delaney during an interview with SKNVibes Sports.
The SKNA is hopeful of sending a large contingent to The Bahamas for the Games, which coincides with The Bahamas 50th Independence Anniversary, but for that to happen they would have to ensure all of the athletes achieve the qualifying standards in the various events.
The SKNA kicked off a number of challenge series meets, which will now be the status quo for competition for the remainder of the year and throughout the 2023 season.
“From the first meet we have seen good performances. All the coaches were very pleased, the spectators were pleased as well to see such competitive races. The times as well were very competitive in terms of not only on the local stage, but on the regional stage - and for juniors it is very commendable,” the President noted.
He promised more meets and events to be on the calendar for next year, including making the meets more family orientated, adding that they would be more show-related to provide entertainment for all involved.
“For next year, we want to include the relay championships again which created a lot of buzz. Inter-School is back and the RAMS Primary Championship is back, and look out for twilight meets, look out for early morning meets, the 9:00 a.m. meets…we are bringing out the whole arsenal next year,” the President disclosed.