Trinidad and Tobago team manager Dexter Voisin was a satisfied man at the end of the 2014 Carifta Games, in Fort de France, Martinique. T&T finished second on the medal table with six gold medals, seven silver and 12 bronze. Jamaica produced yet another dominant performance, topping the table with 42 gold medals, 34 silver and 12 bronze, for a grand total of 88.
For T&T, the 2014 haul represented an improvement of five medals—25 as opposed to 20 in Nassau, Bahamas last year, a total that included eight gold medals, two silver and ten bronze. “The performances were very encouraging,” Voisin told the Express on Monday night.
“The mere fact that we had a lot of younger athletes means that we have a bright future. Twenty-five medals at the end of Carifta...very promising, a lot of good performances. We should leave here satisfied. Every year, we strive for excellence and improvement. This year was an improvement. “And then,” the manager continued, “some of the athletes were very disappointed in their performances, based on the goals that they would have set.
“The organisational part of the Games was not at the best. We had a lot of challenges. But as we told the athletes before we left, they have to learn to adapt to the different environment and situations because not all meets will be as smooth as we expect. At the end of the day, those who could adapt more came out on top.”
Voisin said he was particularly impressed with Machel Cedenio’s successful defence of his boys’ under-20 400 metres title. The 18-year-old quarter-miler clocked 45.95 seconds for a huge margin of victory in the one-lap final. “That is the performance that stood out,” said Voisin, “notwithstanding that we got five more gold medals.”
Kevin Roberts was also in a class by himself, the T&T athlete striking gold in the boys’ octathlon with 5,696 points--438 points more than the silver medallist. “Over the past couple years,” the manager explained, “Kevin had disappointing performances, so to come and basically dominate this year, it was a great achievement on his part. In terms of the combined events for Trinidad and Tobago, it’s very promising.”
The other T&T gold medallists at Carifta 2014 were Chelsea James in the girls’ under-18 shot put, boys’ under-20 javelin thrower Shakeil Waithe, Kayelle Clarke in the girls’ under-20 200m, and the boys’ under-20 4x400m combination of Asa Guevara, Nathan Farinha, Theon Lewis and Cedenio.
Clarke, who won the half-lap final in a wind-assisted 23.10 seconds, was thrilled with her success.
“I felt the performance was very good,” she told the Express. “I didn’t know what I would have come out in the race, but I gave it my all. My goal for the rest of the season is to continue winning in the 200 metres.”
Voisin is hoping for more success for T&T at the July 4-6 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championships in Morelia, Mexico, and the July 22-27 IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon, USA.
“Carifta is just the first indicator in terms of these meets later in the year, so it’s back to the drawing board for most of the athletes with regard to their personal coaches, their club coaches.
“We have to wait and see how they progress going on to the World Juniors because that’s a different level. But again, it’s very promising. If some of them continue with their training, and with improvement, we can see some good performances coming out of the World Juniors.”
Many of the top performers at Carifta 2014 will be on show at the World Juniors meet. The list includes Barbadian Akela Jones, who received the Austin Sealy Award for being the most outstanding athlete at the Games. She struck gold in the girls’ under-20 100m hurdles, high jump and long jump events. Jones was chosen as the Austin Sealy winner by the newly-formed Caribbean Alliance Sports Journalists Association (CASJA).