Bahamas finishes second at CARIFTA track and field championships


The Bahamas snagged a second overall finish at the 47th edition of the Flow Caribbean Free Trade Agreement (CARIFTA) Games at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in New Providence.

Team Bahamas finished the three-day meet with 35 total medals: six gold, 14 silver and 15 bronze. The count is three more than the country won last year in Willemstad, Curacao, besting last year’s performance.

At home, The Bahamas was able to push past Trinidad and Tobago and inch closer to Jamaica after finishing third the past two years.

Jamaica won the junior regional meet for a 34th consecutive time, matching its medal count from last year with 86 overall, while Trinidad and Tobago was third with 17 total medals.

Unlike CARIFTA swimming, which is based on a point system, the order of finish at CARIFTA track and field is based on gold medal count.

Although there was no hope of catching Jamaica on the final day of competition, team Bahamas turned in several outstanding performances on Monday, highlighted by Rhema Ortabor’s recording breaking mark in the under-17 girls javelin toss. Ortabor won the event with a toss of 44.21 meters (m), more than two meters beyond the 42.77m that Rowland Kirton-Browne, of Barbados, registered on her third attempt.

Also, on Monday, Joel Johnson won his second individual medal of the competition, finishing second overall in the under-20 boys 200 in 20.90 seconds. Christopher Taylor, from Jamaica, won the race in 20.38 seconds, and his teammate Xavier Nairne captured the bronze in 21.07 seconds. Johnson won gold in the boys 100m on Sunday, crossing the line in 10.31 seconds. Johnson’s time was a new personal best and junior national record, as he surpassed the 10.34 second mark set by Keanu Pennerman in 2015. Adrian Curry finished second in the race in 10.43 seconds.

“The feeling is just surreal,” Johnson said about picking up two individual medals.

“Although everything didn’t come together exactly like I had planned, I’m thankful I was able to perform well in front of the home crowd.”

Along with Johnson, Mitchell Curtis and Raymond Oriakhi also picked up two medals at the meet. Curtis won gold in the under-17 boys 3000m in 9:04.65 and captured silver in the 1500m on opening night, while Oriakhi finished second in the under-17 boys 400 in 47.75 seconds and won bronze in the 400m hurdles in 1:02.17.

Also highlighting team Bahamas’ time at CARIFTA was Megan Moss’ performance in the under-17 girls 400. Moss set a new CARIFTA record and won gold in 53.19 seconds. Her time surpassed the previous mark of 53.36 seconds set by Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

“Both the NACAC president and the head of the IAAF gave The Bahamas thumbs up for this year’s meet,” said Bahamas Association of Athletic Association (BAAA) president Rosamunde Carey.

“Several months ago, we set out to put on a grand event for everyone involved, and I can honestly say that we exceeded expectations. Some major thanks go out to all of our sponsors and everyone that helped to make this event possible.

“We also want to point out that this is the first time in the history of CARIFTA that a country had a mascot represented at the games. We are proud that Iggy the Iguana was able to leave a lasting impression on everyone that was here or watched the games on television or on the internet.”

As usual, the games ended with a closing ceremony and the passing of the CARIFTA baton. The 2019 CARIFTA games will take place in the Cayman Islands. The flag was officially handed over to the Cayman Islands by Victor Lopez, president of the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC).