The twenty young athletes who represented St. Kitts and Nevis at the Caribbean International Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) Games over the Easter weekend in the Bahamas have been hailed as a gutsy group of competitors after they battled through many difficult circumstances to perform admirably.
The contingent made up of ten boys and ten girls brought home one gold and three bronze medals, a performance that tops last last year when team won on solitary gold medal from high jumper Jermaine Francis.
This year the team had to battle illness and injury over the four-day meet but were still able to give a strong account for themselves.
A gold won by 14-year old Trishanni Warner who upset the field in the U17 girls 800m, Reanda Richards brought home bronze in the U20 girls 400m while the U17 Boys won bronze in the 4x400m relay and the U20 girls 4x400m relay.
Team manager Denville Francis indicated the team had difficulties from day one. “The first day was challenging, because some of the athletes as soon as we landed started to get sick. However, they fought through all the sickness and they were determined to get medals
But he commended their performances noting this has been the best CARIFTA for the Federation since 2015. “Last year we won one medal but this year we won four. I want to say thank you to all the athletes for a great performance. It was hard I lost my mind at times but it was worth it.”
Roatta Johnson head coach of the team was positive that if it wasn’t for the injuries more meals could have been achieved. “Even though we had an increase in medals, I believe if it was not for those injuries and illnesses we would have walked away with more medals.”
She indicated that three athletes came down with a bad flu and were unable to perform to their full abilities while another six came down with injuries. “Sharim Hamilton suffered a fractured toe that I had to tape together with scotch tape in order for him to perform.”
She added that Leroy Chapman and Jahnaza Francis two of the top 400m athletes because of illness had to be removed from the U20 4x400m relay and use 100m sprinters. “To move from a 100 and to do a 400m is very difficult and I am very proud of them. We can all see that these children have guts.”
She noted that athletes also suffered from a busy calendar. “Our athletes had lactic acid build up from the weeks of participating. We had four weeks of intense competition and to go off to the Bahamas for the fifth week it was very difficult on their muscles.”
She added that the athletes were also well behaved
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Sports the Hon. Shawn Richards indicated that the athlete did an excellent job and was proud of the performance they gave.
He reminded them that of his message he gave to them before departing the federation. “I said to you yes you are coming from the small twin island federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, but do not allow that to deter you. Obviously you did not allow that to deter you as you have come back victorious in several different ways.”
He also commended the parents of the athletes. “I must commend the parents it means that you have taken a keen interest in your children, taught them well and I am happy to see so many supporters giving support to your children.”
President of the SKNAAA Val Henry recognized the athletes bravery despite their challenges. “While I recognize all those athletes who medaled I want to say a grateful thank you to all the athletes who were ill and injured.
He However singled out Timothy Caines who was part of one of bronze medal winning teams. “Timothy ran in two events yesterday when he should have been in bed or in hospital resting. I remember him going around the track and when he reached the 300m mark, you could have seen the pain he was going through and instead of stopping he continued. He did not care what placement there was but he understood he was carrying the flag of St. Kitts and Nevis.He was put in another event and carried the baton of St. Kitts and Nevis tremendously”
Henry also agreed that the team could have won more medals but was proud of their enthusiasm. “This wonderful team of gender balance has warmed my heart and even if they came home without medals I would have been the proudest President because they rep this country well.”
The athletes were all greeted at RLB International Airport by high ranking government officials, parents, supporters, and well wishers.