Donna Raynor adamant that Bermuda’s young athletes will be given every chance to qualify for Carifta
Donna Raynor is determined to give Carifta Games hopefuls who are yet to qualify every opportunity possible to seal their spot for the rescheduled event this summer.
An agreement was reached last week by the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association to move the Games, originally scheduled for April 2 to 5, to now be held from July 2 to 4.
While athletes who qualified for the 2020 Games will not have to qualify again in the same age group, the delay has reopened the opportunity for others to book their place, with a new qualifying deadline set for three weeks before the championships for those to try to meet the standards.
Despite the island still being in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, with restrictions in place for sport to return to its previous capacity, Raynor, president of the Bermuda National Athletics Association and head of the local organising committee, remains confident that qualifying meets will be hosted, albeit with possible tweaks to previous formats.
“Being able to give athletes every chance to qualify before the Games is imperative,” she said. “We want to be able to give athletes every opportunity to do so.
“We also want to be able to give those who have already qualified a chance to compete ahead of the Games in order to get them ready. We don’t know what sort of shape athletes are in, so we need to give them the opportunity to compete if possible.
“Now the decision has been made to push the event back to the summer, it gives us plenty of opportunity to hold some track and field meets in the coming months.
“With the easing of restrictions to currently allow 25 people at a gathering, it might allow us to be creative in holding some meets.
“It might be a case of having to split events up and be more flexible with what we do. Hopefully, things will continue to improve in the coming weeks but for us having that extra time is key.
“It is still too early to say what meets will be like for certain because our main focus has been on having a concrete date for the event itself.
“I’m due to meet with the board, and one of the main topics will be how we put on meets. Obviously, we are still not in a normal situation and we have to observe the Government’s Return to Play protocols, but the good thing with us is that we are not a team sport, so hopefully we will be able to arrange something.”
As well as athletes having the opportunity to qualify again, the original postponement also means that some who previously qualified ahead of last year, such as Isabelle Dutranoit, are now too old to compete, while others who were too young will now be eligible.
“There could be so many differences this year with the final team that competes compared to final list of qualifiers from last year,” Raynor added. “Unfortunately some will now be too old, but there will be some athletes who are now eligible.
“We have to go to the clubs and find out who is still available to compete and who may now be able to qualify.”
Whatever happens in the months leading up to the event, Raynor said the most imperative thing is that the Games finally go ahead after enduring a frustrating delay.
More than 600 athletes and officials from 27 Caribbean islands will arrive in Bermuda for the event, one of the most popular for junior athletics in the region.
“The key thing is that the games finally go ahead,” she said. “It’s a little crazy to think we were only a few weeks away from it going ahead the first time around last year and everything was in place.
“Athletes have been looking forward to it and it’s a chance for them to showcase themselves on a big stage.
“Even though the Games are late, we need to finally be able to host it — not only for the organisers and sponsors, but more importantly for all the athletes and especially our local athletes.”