Famous another inspiration to youngsters
After watching with pride as triathlete Flora Duffy won the first gold medal by a Bermudian woman at the Commonwealth Games, Sakari Famous was reminded that her bronze medal at Carifta last week also meant something to the country.
The younger athletes at her club, Bermuda Pacers, surrounded the high jumper prior to a training session at the National Sports Centre last week as she displayed her seven medals, two silver and four bronze, from six years of competing at Carifta, urging them to aim for similar heights.
“It was amazing that one girl ‘followed’ me and said she saw me jump at this year’s Carifta Games, it was great that she followed what I did,” said Famous, who was recently voted the club’s Outstanding Female Athlete for 2017, having previously won it in 2015. “She definitely looks like she’s serious and having fun running with Pacers,”
Winning medals at Carifta pale in comparison to what Duffy is achieving as a world champion, but big achievements nonetheless for the 18-year-old Berkeley Institute student, who counts the triathlete as one of her own idols. As she has inspired the youngsters, so has Duffy inspired her with her achievements overseas.
“I did watch her, it was absolutely amazing, she is one of the athletes I definitely look up to,” said Famous, whose cousin Clarance “Nicky” Saunders won Bermuda’s first Commonwealth Games gold medal in 1990 in New Zealand.
“Congratulations to Flora Duffy for winning that gold medal for Bermuda, she did a great job. And the other athletes as well, Tyler Butterfield, Tyler Smith and Erica Hawley, they did their best, I’m sure.
“She definitely makes me want to compete better, especially in the bigger competitions. I felt proud knowing there is an athlete from a small island like Bermuda competing so well. I’ve never met her but it will be great to meet her, talk to her and ask some questions.”
Famous will be eligible for one more Carifta Games next year, although participation in Cayman Islands will depend on whether she has commitments with the University of Georgia where she will enrol this autumn. With college competition hopefully taking her to new heights, Famous will set her sights on major competitions like Commonwealth Games, Central American and Caribbean Games, the World Junior Championships and the Olympics.
“The Commonwealth is definitely one of my goals,” she said. “Any big competition that’s out there will be my goal. If I don’t go to the World Juniors in Finland in July, then I will definitely go to the East Coast [track meet] with my team, Pacers.
“The experience this Carifta was great, it was good to be the oldest one [in the team] and seeing how the younger athletes acted with the new experience of the Carifta Games. It was great seeing others competing well and getting PBs and running good races.”
Her Carifta career began with a silver medal in Bahamas in 2013, followed by another silver the next year in Martinique before claiming four straight bronze medals. The news that Bermuda will host the next Carifta Games in 2020 gave Famous mixed emotions, happy for the island but sad also to be missing out on another Carifta Games at home, after missing the 2012 games here.
“It’s unfortunate that I won’t be able to compete in 2020, I’ll be too old, but I will have something bigger to look forward to, the 2020 Olympic Games which is definitely in my view right now,” said the teenager.
“Even though I didn’t compete in the 2012 Carifta Games here, I did get to experience what it was by being a basket carrier. It is kind of crazy to think that time went by so fast but I’m glad to have those experiences from 2013 and to have improved so much. Next year will be my last year but I’m not sure if I’ll be competing, so this could be my last year.
“I can’t wait to improve even more at UGA. I’m looking forward to that. My best is 1.80 but this year so far it has been 1.79, which is great so early in the season. That means in the peak period in July I should be able to jump higher.”
She added: “I had an official visit [to UGA] and by the time I arrived [on campus] in Athens by bus from Atlanta I knew it was the school for me. It is great to to know other athletes from Bermuda competed for UGA, it made me more comfortable in knowing it was the school for me, too.
“I can’t wait, every day I’m thinking of UGA, always following them on Instagram and videos. There is a home meet coming up this weekend that I’m definitely going to watch. The girl who was on the recruiting visit with me, we talked about how we can’t wait to go to Athens to compete for UGA. She’s a pole vaulter who lives in Georgia.”
Another female athlete who could end up as a team-mate is Jamaican Lamara Distin who won the gold medal in this year’s high jump at Bahamas. Her and Famous have been competing against each other since 2014 when Distin won the gold in Martinique. The following year Famous edged her out for the bronze after they both jumped 1.68 metres in St Kitts & Nevis.
“It’s great to have competition, especially since there is no competition in Bermuda,” Famous stressed. “It seems that she’s being recruited by UGA as well, because one of the coaches at Georgia was at the competition [Carifta] taking videos of her and telling her to come to UGA.
“It would be great to have someone there to push me to higher heights.”
A FAMOUS HAUL
Sakari Famous’s Carifta medals
1 Lamara Distin (Jam) 1.85m
2 Antonia Glenka (Curacao) 1.81m
3 Sakari Famous (Ber) 1.79m
1 Janique Burgher (Jam) 1.77m
2 Lamara Distin (Jam) 1.74
3 Sakari Famous (Ber) 1.71
1 Shiann Salmon (Jam) 1.82
2 Lamara Distin (Jam) 1.77
3 Sakari Famous (Ber) 1.77
2015 (St Kitts & Nevis)
1. Shiann Salmon (Jam) 1.73
2 Doneisha Anderson (Bah) 1.71
3 (tie) Sakari Famous (Ber) 1.68
4 Lamara Distin (Jam) 1.68
1 Lamara Distin (Jam) 1.68
2 (3-way tie) Sakari Famous (Ber) 1.60
3 Jeanine Allard St-Albin (Mart) 1.60
Ashlee Edward (St Lucia) 1.60
1 Britney Kerr (Jam) 1.68
2 Sakari Famous (Ber) 1.65
3 (tie) Celine Thompson (Bah) 1.60
4 Nargelis Statia (Curacao) 1.60
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