Carifta qualifier Jaeda Grant celebrates birthday with win at Mile Reloaded event
Jaeda Grant gave herself the perfect thirteenth birthday present last night when she qualified for the Carifta under-17s 1,500 metres after clocking a winning time of 5 minutes, 34.57 seconds in the middle school race during the Mile Reloaded event at the Flora Duffy Stadium.
Grant’s time equated to a 5:11.71 time over the 1,500 metre distance, making her the first local athlete to reach a qualifying standard for next April’s Games in Jamaica. Carifta qualification requires the younger athletes to be 14 in the competition’s calendar year.
Devon Bean, the national track and field coach, was delighted to witness Grant’s performance which comes a month before the first track and field event of the season.
“Jaeda puts in the work, I’ve watched her from a little girl and she is now in middle school,” Bean said. “She’s hungry and passionate about the sport and what you saw tonight is testament to what hard work entails.
“Was it expected for her to qualify this year, no, it caught me off guard, too, but that should tell you the time she puts in and the type of shape she is in early December. If she can hone in on that come February or March, who knows what is in store.
“She couldn’t ask for a better birthday. She has a good support system behind her, her parents and grandparents. They encourage her and obviously she likes to run.
“That time should come down even further once she gets in the grove. She didn’t run in spikes tonight!”
Grant finished a comfortable 21 seconds ahead of second placed Ava Butterfield, who clocked 5:55.48, the real battle coming for second place as Butterfield edged Arabella Newport Derbyshire (5:55.88) in the closest of finishes.
One of the closest races of the night saw Tommy Marshall, another aspiring Carifta athlete, edge Tajahri Rogers by one second to win the high school boys race in a time of 4:50.16. Rogers finished in 4:51.16 and J’auza James third in 4:59.86.
Marshall came from third place with about 100 metres to go to claim the victory.
“I was really happy with it, I just came over from the summer training for triathlon and going away to a big cycling race,” Marshall, 17, said.
“Over the cross country series I have been building up my fitness in running again, so coming into this race, I hadn’t done anything over this distance yet so I was super happy to come out with the win.
“Coming around the corner I was in third place and took the lead and going into the last sprint I was just looking forward and hoping no one would come past me.”
Marshall is looking forward to competing in his first Carifta Games, having qualified twice before.
“Once I didn’t make the cut because there were two runners quicker than me and in 2020 I made the team but then there was the Coronavirus,” he explained, now hoping it will be third time lucky.
In the men’s open race, Teddy Shum claimed first place ahead of Domico Watson in a time of 4:47.51 while Watson crossed the line in 5:06.58 and Anthony Furbert was third in 5:33.57.
“Obviously there was a few fast guys missing like Dage [Minors] and Chayce [Smith] who I train a lot with, but I was happy with it,” said Shum who returned to the island in January. “I wanted to break 4:40.
“I’ll run the Jingle Bells race on Sunday and see what happens next year. I just ran the New York Marathon a month ago. I’m going out for a pizza now to celebrate.”
Gayle Lindsay won the women’s 20-39 race in 5:33.62, while Dem Salter was the women’s senior open winner in 7:23.62.
Fenella Wightman of Bermuda High School claimed the Senior school girls (14-19) title with her time of 5:44.35, with Shayla Cann of Bermuda Pacers second in 5:55.93.
Declan Reardon took the 11-13 boys crown in a time of 5:11.96, finishing ahead of MAAC team-mates Cameron Adkins and Tom Hyland in 5:23.27 and 5:24.80.
The Primary schools boys and girls (U-10) winners were Chavi Pacheco Hill in 5:40.22 and Riana Robinson in 6:39.55.