Bermuda’s 20-member Carifta team will benefit from experience, says coach Bean
National coach Devon Bean is anticipating a positive experience for the island’s top young athletes, after the Bermuda National Athletics Association named a 20-member team to represent the country at next month’s Carifta Games in Jamaica.
One of the most celebrated age-group championships in the world, the Carifta Games, which marks its 50th anniversary with this staging, will take place April 16-18 at the National Stadium in Kingston.
Bermuda’s mostly-inexperienced team includes 10 athletes in each of the under-17 and under-20 age groups.
However, Bean is expecting the athletes to be competitive and says he is pleased that they will finally get back on track after two years of no competition in 2020 and 2021 when Bermuda was scheduled to host the Games.
“We have a young team and for most of the under-17s, this will be their first Carifta. This is going to be quite an eye-opening experience for them,” said Bean.
“Anything can happen in a championship, but we, as coaches, are not expecting a medal haul. We’re looking to go down there and be competitive, hopefully make the finals where anything can happen in a final,” Bean said.
Sancho Smith and Nirobi Smith Mills were able to compete just one year in the under-17s before moving up to the under-20s, while Jaeda Grant, at 13, will be the youngest member of team.
Grant reached the qualifying standard in the 1,500 metres last December when, on her thirteenth birthday, she became the first Bermuda athlete to qualify for Carifta with a first-place finish in the Mile Reloaded event.
“They didn’t really get a chance to get their feet wet in the under-17 age group and now they are in the under-20 age group. Those couple of years might not seem like much but it is quite a difference in the competition and the times the under-20s produce,” said Bean.
Bermuda won six medals at the last Games in Cayman Islands in 2019, with Caitlyn Bobb (U-17 400m), Smith Mills (U-17 800m) and Isabelle Dutranoit (open 3,000m) all winning gold medals.
Bobb and Smith Mills are back to lead the team’s bid for medals, with the quartet of Bobb, Ketura Bulford-Trott, Sanaa Rae Morris and Za’Kayza Parsons, which won bronze in the under-17 4x100 metres, also likely to push for a podium spot.
Nathan Armstrong, who won bronze and silver in the under-17 1,500 and 3,000 metres events at the last Games, announced this week that he had withdrawn from the Bermuda team because of school commitments.
“Most of the islands bring their university freshmen athletes back to run in the Carifta Games, so that tells you the level of competition in the under-20 age group,” Bean said.
“Obviously we have Caitlyn, Za’Kayza, Ketura and Sanaa Rae in university and this will be their last year while Sanaa has one more year.
“We were very selective with the team, with the pandemic these kids have stuck to the wicket and we as the coaches felt they should be rewarded for showing commitment. We applaud the parents for being heavily involved in their child’s development.
One of the new under-17s in the team is Madisyn Bobb, the younger sister of Caitlyn, who will compete in the 400 metres along with Elise Dickinson, who will also run in the 200 metres.
Bean is expecting the experience in Jamaica to serve the athletes well.
“There’s no Carifta like Carifta in Jamaica,” Bean pointed out. “Jamaica is a whole different atmosphere because track and field is like a religion in Jamaica, when everybody comes out.
“Our kids are used to competing in front of a few hundred people, and at Carifta you have 15,000 or 20,000 people in the stadium. That’s going to be an eye-opening experience for them.”
The coach also noted that it is yet to be determined which relay the girls team will compete in.
“Most likely we will run the 4x100, we will assess it once we go down there,” said Bean. “We’ll register them for both [4x100 and 4x400] and the coaches are going to decide at the right time which one we are better suited for.
Freddie Evans, president of the BNAA said: “The Board is appreciative of the coaches and athletes who have worked so hard to bring track competitions back after everyone’s long hiatus.
“As always, there are young people whose efforts merited consideration, but they just missed the standard; the board would like to encourage these individuals to continue to work hard as we have other international competitions that they may be eligible for.”
Jaeda Grant (800m, 1500m)
J’Naz Richards (100m, 200m)
Elise Dickinson (200m, 400m)
Madisyn Bobb (400m)
Zenji Washington (100m)
Fenella Wightman (1500m)
S’nay Cumbermatch (400m, 800m)
Denver Tucker (100m, 200m)
Jaylen Grant (400m)
Miles Outerbridge (100m, 200m)
Caitlyn Bobb (200m, 400m, 4x100m, 4x400m)
Zakayza Parsons (100m, long jump, 4x100m)
Ketura Bulford-Trott (200m, 4x100m, 4x400m)
Shayla Cann (800m)
Sanaa Rae Morris (4x400m, 4x100m)
Kesay Bell (javelin, shot)
Sancho Smith (800m, 400m, 4x400m)
Nirobi Smith Mills (800m, 4x400m
Simeon Hayward (1500m)
Jauza James (high jump, 1500m, Octathlon).
Head coach: Devon Bean
Manager: Janine Scott
Assistant coach: Jerome Richards
Assistant coach: Terry-Lynn Paynter
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