By Lara Pickford-Gordon
Athletes of Fatima College can hold their heads high having competed in the 49th Carifta Games, April 16–18 at Independence Park, Kingston, Jamaica.
The competition which showcases potential future stars of athletics saw the boys participate in the 4x400m, 4×100, 1500 and discus throw. They gained valuable experience and insights.
To get on to the national relay team to compete, the athletes had to be one of the top four athletes in T&T’s Carifta trials. In Jamaica, there were no semis and races were finals, however, the boys on the relay gained practice debuting at Tobago’s Falcon Games April 12–14.
The Under-17, 4×100 silver medal team comprised: Khareen Solomon (first leg), Dylan Woodruffe, Tyrell Springer (third leg) and Jamario Russell (fourth leg).
Woodruffe and Russell are Fatima students. They completed the race in 42.77, just behind Jamaica whose team won Gold in 41.74. Woodruffe and Russell were on T&T’s 4×400 silver medal team with: Jabari Branche, Kaiyin Morris, Keeran Sriskandarajah and Kyle Williams. T&T completed the race in 3:09.67 and Jamaica 3:08.94. Troy Llanos got a bronze medal in the 1500m and Jaden James, bronze in the discus.
The Catholic News got feedback from the boys on their achievement.
Jaden James- Discus
James participated in his first Carifta. He said, “preparation had been long and stressful. Training five to six days weekly. The major challenge has been Covid affecting the regularity of meets. For the competition, I focused on staying relaxed and moving fluidly throughout the circle.”
James said he was not accustomed to competing before large crowds and the noise, “was quite a mental game, in assuring you use the atmosphere to fuel you and not get nervous because of it”.
His strategy was to try and stay calm and not let a competitor’s good results affect his mindset. James is satisfied to have earned a medal and ready to work towards the next games.
Jamario Russell-4x100m, 4x400m
Russell said in his first Carifta, his expectation was to run to the best of his ability and “God’s willing” get a medal. A lot of preparation took place, and he admits some days were “harder than others”. Russell said despite the little challenges he and his coaches “pushed through”. His strategy was to stay calm and execute the race as discussed in training.
He said of Carifta, “it was definitely a new, well-needed experience but I just kept telling myself that this is what I have been working for and make everyone proud, and I know what I have been through to make it this far and that pushed me.”
Russell said the results were not bad as he had no experience. Asked how the four members became in sync to execute the race he stated, “we had problems with some of the hand offs but with many practices and with the chemistry we had, not just as a team alone but as friends, made everything run smooth and we executed well on the day bringing home the silver for T&T in the 4×100.” Talking about his race-day strategy he said it was to go out and do what he usually did in Trinidad. Russell however, realised competition locally was completely different from racing at the international level.
Sharing race-day insight he said he was “thrown off” when he saw the competitor in the lane next to him “fly out of the blocks”. He added, “if I was focusing on my race, I could have done better…all of this is just a learning experience for me and moving forward I am definitely educated now.”
Russell is aiming for improvements. “Now it’s just going back to the drawing board and coming back stronger.” He is happy for what the team achieved and was confident in their abilities.
Llanos was a triathlete but decided last September to switch to full-time track training in preparation for the Pan American (Pan Am) Games last November. He ran a personal best of 4:09:02 with six weeks of training after lockdown. He began a new training cycle for the Carifta Games.
After a few months, during the off season, he was ready for the season opener at the end of February. Races were still limited due to Covid, so he decided to participate in his main event, the 1500m.
He ran in 4:13.16 to win the race in “tough conditions”. Two weeks later, Llanos won the 1500m and 800m at the Carifta trials in 4:14.47 and 1:56.71, respectively. He was disappointed with the time for the 1500m but happy to have set a personal best in the 800m.
Llanos began final preparations for Carifta, his second appearance, working on specific scenarios such as “the final kick”. On the day of the race, Llanos did a 90-minute warm-up. His nervousness disappeared when the race began, and he positioned himself in second behind the leader. He describes the race: “I was surprised during the race that I was able to remain there with only one lap to run. The leader formed a gap on me at that point, but I tried my best to continue running strong. With 200m left, a Jamaican and Bahamian passed me on the bend and I ended up a little boxed in with 100m left. I had to cut my stride a bit before kicking past the Bahamian and nearly catching the second place Jamaican. I leaned so far on the line that I fell down after the race.”
Llanos achieved a personal best of 4.01.47, earned a bronze medal and qualified for the Pan Am U20. He did not qualify for the 800m which he attributes to not recovering sufficiently from the race the night before.
Looking back, he commented, “it is a learning experience… For the next race, I will definitely try to get better recovery in after my race.”
Kevin Wells, former school coach, now liaison sports officer, said of the team’s success, “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.”