Carifta hopefuls to face Canadian college athletes
More than 50 athletes from the University of Western Ontario will compete in a track meet at the National Stadium tomorrow aimed at giving local athletes their first opportunity to qualify for the Carifta Games in Bahamas in April.
The participation of sprinters Tre Houston and Taahira Butterfield, and long jumper Bruce DeGrilla will help generate some extra interest.
However, the emphasis is on achieving qualifying standards for Carifta and providing opportunity for the visiting college to have some competition during their week in Bermuda.
Sakari Famous, soon to be a college student herself at the University of Georgia on a full scholarship, will compete in the high jump as she bids to qualify for another Carifta. She is a five-times medal winner and will be eligible to compete in two more Games.
Western Ontario arrived in Bermuda on Tuesday along with a swimming team from Georgetown University for a week of training.
“We're very excited that the sun has come out, we've got a warm breeze and hopefully there will be some positive tailwinds at Saturday's meet,” Vicky Croley, the Western Ontario coach, said.
“I was fortunate to come here in early September and I knew that this was a once-in-a-lifetime for our athletes.”
Croley added: “This is the beginning of our competitive season back home. We had two meets before the holidays and when we go back we compete every weekend until mid-March, which is our National University Championships.
“We look forward to not only competing against, but getting to know, the Bermuda athletes. Our student athletes here are not worried about school, so it's nice to focus on building our team.”
The meet was announced at a press conference yesterday at the National Stadium attended by Jamahl Simmons, the Minister for Economic Development and Tourism, and Lovitta Foggo, the acting sport minister.
Daniel Johnson, the assistant product manager for sports at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, has been working closely with both groups to make the winter training camps a reality.
“As you can see, I'm grinning from ear to ear because I have been working with both teams for the last six to nine months and was able to convince them to come to Bermuda for their training camps,” Johnson said.
“To actually see the teams standing in front of me is very gratifying. Even more so, because this is the first time I've had two teams here at the same time and same place. We're grateful to coach Vickie Croley and coach Jack Leavitt [Georgetown University] for bringing their track and swim teams here to train.”
Coming to Bermuda is also a welcome break for the 70 swimmers from Georgetown University.
“We're coming off a pretty good first semester in terms of competition and are using this to keep the momentum going into the home stretch of our season,” Leavitt said.
“We've got about six weeks left before we have to perform at the Big East Championships, and we're using this as a refresh on the second semester and a springboard into the last six weeks. It's going really well so far.”
Donna Raynor, president of the Bermuda National Athletics Association, is excited about the meet, which will showcase the bulk of the 20-member Carifta team that competed in Curaçao last year.
“I would like to thank Western Ontario, Vicky in particular. We met in September last year and we discussed this meet,” Raynor said. “I'm happy and excited that this is going to become a reality. This is a perfect time for us as we move forward towards our Carifta preparation. Bring your Bermuda and Canada flags!”
Admission for the meet, which starts at 12pm, is $5. Seniors and children under three can attend for free.