By Floyd French
(Basseterre, St. Kitts) – Kittitians and Nevisians have much to celebrate after Carifta 2008. Team St. Kitts-Nevis racked up five medals – four silvers and one bronze.
Despite the lack of a gold medal, St. Kitts-Nevis’s Carifta 2008 team represents the silver lining of future athletic successes, and its silver winnings shined through more brilliantly than gold throughout the competition.
The successes of Team St. Kitts-Nevis came in the evening sessions of each day of the competitions. The timing was on the mark, for most Kittitians and Nevisians attended the games during the evening sessions.
Meritzer Williams captured the first silver and thrilled the home crowd with her performance. She ran the U20 100m Dash on Saturday in 11.41 seconds, just .02 seconds behind gold winner Carrie Russell of Jamaica, but a comfortable .09 seconds ahead of bronze winner Sheniqua Ferguson of Bahamas .
Williams would once again delight St. Kitts-Nevis fans Monday evening after winning silver for the U20 200m Dash, her second silver for the games. She clocked in at 23.11 seconds, a mere .10 seconds behind Nivea Smith of Bahamas and cruising .17, ahead Jura Levy of Jamaica .
This performance also places Meritzer in the ‘B’ standard for the Olympic Games, just .10 seconds off the qualifying mark for ‘A’ standard. She has also qualified for both 100 and 200 metres at the World Junior Champions. Moreover, Williams is the first female from the Federation to win a medal in the 100m Dash during the Carifta Games and she has also set two national junior records in the 100 and 200 metres.
Her performance electrified the St. Kitts-Nevis crowd who drowned out the sound of the Bahamian iron band in the main stand with their exuberance.
Williams’ win over Jamaica was also savoured by the crowd who witnessed a total domination of the games by team Jamaica that tallied 29 Gold, 25 Silver and 15 Bronze. Williams thrilled the crowd when she abated Jamaican pride and forced Jamaica to settle for bronze in the U20 200m Dash.
Vanessa Bennet also won a bronze medal on Monday evening when she sprinted 24.40 seconds in the U17 200m Dash. Her third place finish was superb as she denied Petra Fanty of Jamaica a place on the medal stand.
However, the ultimate thrills of the games came in the relays. Team effort and crowd participation make relays the highlight of any athletic track meet. As such the relays are usually the last events of the competition or the competition’s day schedules.
On Sunday evening, Arian Maynard, Vanessa Bennet, Tressfansanna White and Siana Leader won the silver medal for the Girls U17 4X100m Relay. Kaydeen Liburd replaced Arian Maynard on this squad that would go on to win silver in the U17 4X400m Relay on Monday. It was a race to the finish with some lead changes, but with a constant crowd cheering to the end.
In the end, Meritzer Williams gained two individual silver medals while Vanessa Bennet garnered two silver medals for her team performance in the relays and one bronze medal in her individual performance in the U17 200m Dash.
While the Prime Minister may have named the Bird Rock athletic stadium Silver Jubilee Stadium in honour of our 25th anniversary of Independence, team St. Kitts-Nevis has left a streak of silver in it with the promise of better to come.