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All systems go for Carifta Games

From finalising the opening ceremony to securing sufficient transportation, Donna Watson is leaving no stone unturned in her efforts to ensure next April’s Carifta Games is a success.

More than 500 athletes from 26 Caribbean countries, including at least 50 from Bermuda, will compete in the annual event to be held on home soil for the first time in seven years.

With only five months until Carifta’s curtain raiser, Watson, Bermuda Track and Field Association’s president, insists her lengthy to-do list is gradually shrinking with preparations well on course.

However, she admits there are still some minor logistical hurdles to overcome such as transportation, which she describes as “the greatest nightmare for any international event”.

“There are so many small things we have to keep an eye on for this event to be successful. We’re on course, though, and have put several things in place already, finalising several contracts towards the event,” said Watson, who is looking for around 150 volunteers to help Carifta run smoothly.

“One of the biggest challenges is securing transportation (for athletes and officials): the greatest nightmare for any international event.

“For these Games to be successful, the most important thing is accommodation, which we have secured and transportation, which we’re securing. We also have to make sure we stay on budget.”

Hundreds of Caribbean spectators are expected to travel to Bermuda for Carifta, running from April 7 to 9 at the National Sports Centre, which should serve as a timely boost to the Island’s ailing tourism industry.

A number of US college coaches are also anticipated to attend the multi-sport event, which has two age categories: Under-17 and Under-20.

“We have already been in conversation with several of the Caribbean countries who will be bringing spectators to Bermuda for the Games,” said Watson, who believes more than 150 supporters will be travelling from Bahamas and at least 40 from Jamaica.

“I’ve also had calls from US coaches who will be coming here looking to recruit athletes.

“The tourist numbers will be highly boosted by this event; it’s one of the top youth athletics events so people will follow it regardless of where it’s held.”

A 50-strong team at the upcoming Games will represent Bermuda and Watson is expecting them to far exceed the six medals they won at last year’s event in Jamaica.

As part of their preparations, the BTFA will be putting on a raft of workshops for their contingent, addressing topics such as nutrition and mental coaching.

“We currently have 80 quality athletes in our pool of athletes trying to reach the standards,” said Watson, a former top Bermuda runner.

“I have no doubt with the team I have in place we will make Bermuda very proud from the competition to the event. We are putting a lot of effort into preparing our athletes so they can put on a great show for the Bermuda public and be on that medal podium.

“I think the Bermuda public is in for a treat and the tickets will be going on sale in November; we don’t want to be out done by the other islands’ spectators because they are coming in full force.”

The Carifta Games have been running since 1972 and are considered by many as the top youth track and field competition in the world.

When Bermuda last staged the event in 2004, current world record holder Usain Bolt, of Jamaica, became the first junior athlete to break 20 seconds in the 200 metres in a time of 19.3 seconds.

Watson hopes for an equally memorable competition this time around and is confident Bermuda will do a tremendous job hosting the Games.

“The Carifta Games has always been very well organised; I have never been to one that has not been,” she said.

“Even last year’s Games were well organised when Jamaica took on the Games at the last minute. No country ever wants to be the country with the reputation for having a bad Carifta.”

For more details visit www.Carifta2012.com

Usain Bolt became the first junior athlete to break 20 seconds in the 200 metres when Bermuda last held the Carifta Games in 2004.

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Published November 02, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated November 02, 2011 at 9:20 am)

All systems go for Carifta Games

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