The 47th edition of the Caribbean Free Trade Agreement (CARIFTA) Track and Field Championships begin tomorrow at the Queen Elizabeth Sporting Complex in New Providence.
An 80-member team will represent The Bahamas for the first time in several years, and according to Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) president Rosamunde Carey, expectations are high amongst team coaches and athletes.
“It is safe to say that we are putting together an awesome team,” Carey said.
“This team is different from the teams in the past, in my humble opinion. The hunger is different, and the athletes are looking forward to putting on a show over the Easter holiday weekend.
“We are going for gold and I am confident that we can win the gold and give Jamaica a competitive run. There were 35 outright qualifiers, and with this team, we expect to be really competitive for the fact that all of the athletes that didn’t qualify outright were really, really close to the qualification standards.”
This year’s event will be held in honor of former BAAA president and athlete, the late Dr. Bernard Nottage. At a special ceremony to celebrate the launch of the event today at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Carey said, visiting fans, athletes and officials can expect an unforgettable experience in The Bahamas. The games are set for March 30 – April 2.
“As BAAA president, we are telling you that we in The Bahamas are grateful for the opportunity to host this event,” Carey added.
“By hosting this we made history once again. The Bahamas has hosted the most CARIFTA Games to date. The North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC), like the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), realize that we have what it takes to strategize and organize the most prestigious junior meet not only in the Caribbean, but also in the world.
“We send a special thank you to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis for his continued commitment to hosting the games. We also want to thank the current Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Michael Pintard for all that he has done and continues to do, and also to Flow, the official title sponsor of the event.”
International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) President Lord Sebastian Coe was also on hand for the ceremony.
“This place has become a bit of a second home for me at this point,” he said.
“We know that the people here know how to put on a show, and I can guarantee that traveling teams won’t be disappointed by their time here. The country has done a great job hosting the World Relays and we are looking forward to a great time in The Bahamas. This event truly serves as a great stepping stone, seeing that some of the biggest household names in track and field have participated in the games at some point.”
This year marks the eighth time that The Bahamas hosts the CARIFTA games.
For Pintard, his hope is that Bahamians will take advantage of the international event and show their country spirit by support for the young competitors.
“I invite the entire Bahamian public to support our athletes,” he said.
“We want schools and clubs to come out and support the local athletes as they take on the top athletes in the region. We want to see the stadium full every night, and we want the fans cheering on our athletes.”
More than 500 athletes and 400 coaches have travelled to The Bahamas for the three-day event.
A total of 41 sponsors have contributed toward the staging of the Flow CARIFTA Games Bahamas 2018. Title sponsor Flow has pledged $66,000 alone.