Fatima boys Jamario Russell, Troy Llanos, Dylan Woodruffe and Jaden James represented Trinidad and Tobago at the Carifta Games in Jamaica over the Easter weekend.
The team, including Russell and Woodruffe secured second place (silver) in the Boys Under-17 4×100 relay and 4×400 relay. Llanos secured third place (bronze) in the Boys Under-20 1500m run while James won Bronze in the Boys’ Under 20 Discuss.
The Carifta Games is an annual athletics competition founded by the Caribbean Free Trade Association (Carifta). The games was first held in 1972 and consists of track and field events including sprint races, hurdles, middle distance track events, jumping and throwing events, and relays. The Games has two age categories: under-17 (under-18 until 2017) and under-20. Only countries associated with Carifta may compete in the competition.
According to a Fatima College Trinidad & Tobago Facebook post, the boys were “extremely pleased as they received an extra blessing” from an in-person visit from former school principal Fr Gregory Augustine CSSp.
Kevin Wells, former school coach, now liaison sports officer, said that to be chosen to run on the relay teams you had to be one of the top four athletes in the finals of Trinidad’s Carifta trials. Both relays were straight finals and had no semis.
Commenting on the team’s success, Wells said, “this was very surprising with these guys…I’m happy for them… Their success is on behalf of their coaches so I hope they will be giving their coaches thanks and kudos especially.”
In a reflection on his performance at the Games, Russell shared that this was his first Carifta Games. He commented that his expectations were to run to the best of his ability and “God’s willing, [a] medal in the process.”
He mentioned that his strategy was to stay calm and execute his race as discussed and practised in training.
“I was very proud and happy when we won our medal for the relay. [I] felt like I made my country proud, and the team just did what I always knew they could do.”
Llanos also shared on his journey to the Carifta Games, which began in September when he made the decision to switch from triathlon training to full-time track training in preparation for the Pan Am U20 Champs that were originally scheduled to take place in October.
“After running a new PB (personal best) (4:09.03) at those trials, with only six weeks of training under my belt after lockdown, I began a new training cycle for the Carifta Games. After a few solid months of training during the off season, I was ready for my season opener at the end of February,” Llanos said.
He explained since races were still limited due to Covid, he decided to open his season with his main event, the 1500m. Llanos ran 4:13.16 to win the race in “tough conditions”.
Following that race was the Carifta trials two weeks later where he won both the 1500m and 800m in 4:14.47 and 1:56.71, respectively.
“Although I was a bit disappointed at the moment with the time in the 1500m, I was very happy with the 800m race as it was a five second PB.”
From there, Llanos began his final preparations for the games working on specific race scenarios such as the final kick. On the week of the race, the team began the taper. The intensity of the workout, Llanos commented remained high, but the volume was significantly cut.
He commented that now that the games have finished, he can say that he is extremely proud of the team performances.
“Everyone on the team performed to the absolute best of their ability and gained valuable international experience,” Llanos said.