40 years of Carifta

40 years of Carifta…… by Clayton Clarke


2011 marks forty years since the Carifta Games were born. The regional annual premier junior meet has been the breathing ground of world class track and field athlete and has produced numerous World and Olympic champions .  From Bermuda's Brian Wellman (2005 World indoor triple jump champion) and Nike  Saunders (1990 Commonwealth men’s high jump gold medallist) to Bahamas World champions Tonique Williams (2004 Olympic and 2005 World women’s 400m champion), Avard Moncour (2001 men’s 400/4x400 winner), Debbie Ferguson (2001 women’s 200 victrix). Merlene Ottley (2003/2005 World women’s  200m champion and the leading Olympic and World championships medallist), triple World, Olympic champion and record holder Usain Bolt. Olympic and World championships gold medallists Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Melanie Walker head a long list of Jamaicans who have competed at Carifta.

Four decades of athletic excellence in the region got overshadowed by the near cancellation of this year’s competition.  We now take look back at some of the best moments. 

Five years ago………………..Les Abymes, Guadeloupe

Renny Quow (TRI) won back to back  senior boys  400m titles(46.55) and went on to take the World junior one lap gold in Beijing China later in the year.  Three years later Quow won bronze at the 2009 World Championships.

Ryan Brathwaite (BAR) took his first major title winning the boys 110m hurdles crown (13.85) after his silver at 2005 World Youth Championships in Marrakech, Morocco . Jamaicans Yohan Blake and Renaldo Rose claimed the men's 100 and 200m titles respectively and then led Jamaica to World Junior gold in the men's 4x100m. 

Among the senior girls Sheniqua Ferguson (BAH)  grabbed the girls 200m sprint title (23.44) two years before winning the world junior title. 

Sherenne Pinnock (JAM) took her third straight girls 400m hurdles gold (57.50) and went on to take her her third and fourth world junior medals.

Anguilla’s first ever World championships finalist Shara Poctor took the girls long jump gold(6.17) as 2009 NCAA  double champion Kimberly Williams won her fourth Carifta gold taking the girls triple jump (12.94).

Annie Alexander (TRI) completed the throws double taking the shot putt (14.88) and discus (46.67) events

Dexter Lee (JAM) took the junior boys  100 gold before taking the 2007 World Youth title in Ostrava, Czech Republic and back to back world junior crowns in 2008 and 2010.

Garvin Nero(TRI) completed a rare triple win sweeping the 800, 1500 and 3000 setting games records in the latter two events. Nero went to repeat the feat at the CAC Juniors  in Port of Spain.

Natoya Goule completed her second straight 800/1500m double win among the junior girls. She went to win a record breaking 16 Carifta gold medals.

Ten years ago…………Bridgetown, Barbados.

Fresh from her double sprint triumph at the 2000 World Junior Championships and her first Olympic medal with the Jamaican women’s 4x100m team, Veronica Campbell  (JAM) ended her junior career on a bang.  Campbell  produced the performance of the meeting winning the 200m in a new record of 22.93 seconds, running into a 1.6 headwind.  She improved the 23.05 clocking she set in winning the previous year and won the Austin Sealy Award for the most outstanding performer of the meet. MelanieWalker followed her World Junior double medal performance by smashing the 400m hurdles clocking 56.90 seconds. She was beaten in the sprint hurdles by Adrianna Lamalle (MART) who took her third straight title. Another Martiniquan Claudia Villeneuve took her second straight shot/discus triumph.   Lavern Spencer (LUC) won the high jump in a record equaling height of 1.79.

Darryl Brown (TRI) sped to a new world Youth record of 10.24 seconds in taking the senior boys 100, his first of three straight wins.  Brown went on to take the World Youth title later that year.  His compatriot Damion Barry (TT) retained his one lap title in a new game record of 46.52 seconds.  Barry went to take the Pan American Junior crown (46.40).

Damon Thompson (BAR) set a new games record in the high jump taking the gold in 2.20m.

Shamir Thomas (GRN) won the shot and discus throws.

Junior Boys

Usain Bolt (JAM) made his debut on the international scene. The 14 year old was won three silver medals in the 200, 400 and 4x100. His teammate Patrick Lee stole the spot light grabbing the 400/100m and 400m hurdles. Kern Harripersad (TRI) won back to back 800 and 1500 crowns with a games record of 1:55:20 in the two lap race.

15 years ago……Kingston, Jamaica

Cydone Mothersill (CAY) and Sherline Williams (BAR) upset the Jamaicans in front of their home crowd. Mothersill took the senior girls 100 and 200m gold medals to avenge her loss at the 1995 edition in the Cayman Islands.  Williams captured the 400m and 800m events with Vernae Ingram (BER) claiming the 1500m. The Reggae girls responded with a games record of 44.24 in the 4x100m relay.  Among the senior boys Lindel Frater (100), Roy Bailey (200) and Michael Campbell (400) restored the Jamaican pride.  Winston Abeerden (TRI)-800/1500 and Sabastien Pincemail (GUD)-LJ/TJ took double wins. In the junior boys, Jamaicans Carlon Harrison (800/1500) and Oniel Wright (400/400H) were also double winners. Janelle Inniss (BAR) who won her third consecutive U 17 800/1500 victories while Aileen Bailey (JAM) won the 100 and 200 sprints.

20 years ago…Port of Spain, Trinidad

Lacena Golding (JAM) took a rare High Jump/Discus in the junior girls’ competition.  Compatriot Claudine Williams landed the 400 and 800m and went on to qualify for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as a 16 year old.

Obadele Thompson (BAR) raced to his first Carifta title taking the junior boys 100m while Edward Clarke (JAM) took home with 200/400 double.  Deavon Bean (BER) captured the Long and Triple jumps with another Bermudan Stephan Woodley taking the High jump.

Nikole Mitchell (JAM) sped to gold in the senior girls 100 and 200m before triumphing at the 1992 World Junior. The Turners sisters swept the 400, 800, 1500 and 3000 for Jamaica. Janice set records in taking the 1500 (4:31:33) and 3000 (9:50:56) with sister Evette winning silver in the longer race. Another Inez collected the 400 and 800 titles, her third straight in the two lap race.   Among the senior boys Quinton John (TRI) took the 1500 and 5000 races. Kieta Cline (IVB) took his first of three long jump wins.

30 years ago….Nassau, Bahamas

Candy Ford (BER) completed a sprint treble in the junior girls winning the 100, 200 and 400 and her third consecutive 200m gold. Maurice Williams (GRN) set a new record in the 5000m of 14:58:23 which stood for 28 years.  Nick Saunders (BER) captured the senior boys high jump (2.18 GR).

Marie-France Loval (GUD) landed her first of three straight senior girls 100m titles while Mary Ann Higgs (BAH) completed the 200/400 double. Sonya Smith (BER) took an unprecedented fifth gold in the girls open javelin. Lavern Eve (BAH) took the shot and javelin gold.

Ray Stewart (JAM) captured the junior boys sprint double. 

40 years ago…..Bridgetown Barbados

The some of big names in regional track and field participated in the inaugural meet. Semoy Newman (JAM) took the 400 and Horace Tuitt (TRI) the 800. Maurice Clarke (JAM) landed the 100/200 double while compatriot Clive Bariffe was a triple gold medallist in the 110 and 400m hurdles and high jump.   Donald Hale (HJ/LJ) and Leon Brown (Shot/Discus) were also double winners for Jamaica. Among the girls Andrea Bruce was the stand out athlete taking the 100m Hurdles, High and Long jump events. Her winning distance of 1.78m in the high jump qualified her for the 1972 Munich Olympics and remained a Carifta record for 15 years.  Lelieth Hodge (JAM) lifted the 100m gold while Laura Pierre (TRI) was the victorious in the 200 and 400m.  Carletta MCNabb (JAM) took the 800 and 1500.