Report11 Apr 2023

Jamaica maintains dominance at 50th Carifta Games


Jamaica's Roshawn Clarke wins the 400m hurdles at the 50th Carifta Games (© Leo Hudson)

Jamaica dominated the 50th Carifta Games held in Nassau, Bahamas, between 8-10 April, topping the medal table with 78 medals including 40 gold, 22 silver and 16 bronze.

Individual winners included Alana Reid in the 100m, Alexis James in the 100m hurdles, Roshawn Clarke in the 400m hurdles and Jaydon Hibbert in the triple jump.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, an annual visitor to the Games, was in attendance along with Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis and Mike Sands, President of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association, plus Sir Austin Sealy, founder of the Carifta Games.

Mixed results for sprint stars

Reid, Jamaica’s co-captain and U20 world leader authoritatively won her first Carifta title in the girls’ U20 100m. Reid overcame bad weather and a demanding schedule, which saw the heats, semifinals and final contested on the opening day, and won impressively in 11.17 (-1.0m/s)  ahead of her teammate James in 11.53.

“This is something I’ve waited for, to become Carifta champion,” said Reid. “This is my first title and I did my best to achieve it.”

Jamaica's Alana Reid on her way to a win in the 100m

Jamaica's Alana Reid on her way to a win in the 100m (© Kermit Taylor)

There were a few tremors in the boys’ U20 100m sprints and among the biggest casualties were Jamaican favourites Bouwahjgie Nkrumie and DeAndre Daley, the defending champion, who suffered injury and a false start, respectively.

Caymanian sprinter Davonte Howell, who placed sixth last year, was a surprise winner. Howell, who shifted gears mid-race to finish with a flourish in 10.30, just 0.01 outside his lifetime best, paid tribute to the Jamaican absentees.

“I saw when the defending champion (Daley) got disqualified and before that when the world leader (Nkrumie) went down and I decided I had to win this for them because they are my friends,” said Howell. “I’m happy to be Carifta champion and I’ll be back next year to defend the title.” 

Jamaica showcased its hurdling prowess with dominant performances, winning all but one of the age-group sprint finals. Leading the way was world U20 silver medallist James, who sped to a Games record of 13.06 (0.9m/s) in the U20 100m hurdles. James led a 1-2 finish as her teammate Asharria Ulett came through in a lifetime best of 13.24.

“I feel great, my mind was set on the gold medal and breaking the record adds to this special moment,” said the two-time champion. The Jamaicans also had 1-2 finishes in the U17 girls' and boys' categories.

Jamaica’s Clarke was declared the winner of the Austin Sealy Award for being the most outstanding athlete. The world U20 bronze medallist from Cali, Colombia, won the boys’ U20 400m hurdles in 49.92.

“I was always confident in my abilities to win gold and get the Games record, but I shuffled at the last hurdle and lost my balance,” said Clarke. “Nevertheless, I ran a season’s best and dedicate my victory to our injured team captain Bouwahjgie Nkrumie.”

Double winners

Michelle Smith, representing the Virgin Islands, was a standout performer. Smith, a finalist at the Cali World U20 Championships, registered a strong performance, winning the girls’ U20 400m hurdles final in 57.69. She completed a unique double when she added the 800m title, stopping the clock at 2:09.72.

Michelle Smith of the Virgin Islands wins the 400m hurdles at the 50th Carifta Games

Michelle Smith of the Virgin Islands wins the 400m hurdles at the 50th Carifta Games (© Leo Hudson)

Bahamian wunderkind Jamiah Nabbie won the girls’ U17 sprint double, sparking instant jubilation among her home fans. Both her victories were achieved in lifetime bests, 11.67 (-1.0m/s) in the 100m and 23.67 (0.2m/s) in the half-lap event.

“My expectations were high as I wanted to run faster,” said Nabbie. “I have some issues to sort out like my start and I look forward to improving.”

Jamaica won three out of the four age group 400m finals. The Jamaicans celebrated a 1-2 finish in the boys’ U20 400m final when Jasauna Dennis (46.43) held off a late surge by his compatriot and race favourite Delano Kennedy (46.50). Nickecoy Bramwell chopped more than six-tenths of a second off his previous PB to win the boys’ U17 400m final in 47.86. Rickiann Russell continued her impressive showing this season by winning the girls’ U20 400m final in 51.84.

Daley’s reward

Good sense prevailed in a high-octane boys’ U20 4x100m final, which saw the official result confirmed after two days. Jamaica, with the redemption-seeking Daley on anchor, stormed across the finish line in a world-leading 39.68 but later learned that due to a protest, the final was to be re-run the following day. None of the countries participated in the re-run, which forced the officials to uphold the results of the previous evening.

There was no such controversy in the girls’ U20 final as Jamaica won by daylight in a world-leading 44.01.

“I was disappointed with the 100m,” said Daley. “I was fresh for this relay final and all my energy was stored up, so I went out there and got the job done.”

Elsewhere, competing off a short approach, world U20 champion Hibbert of Jamaica bounded out to 16.11m on his final attempt to wrap up the boys’ U20 triple jump. In the infield, Kobe Lawrence produced a crunch throw to win the boys’ U20 discus final, sailing the implement out to 60.27m with his final attempt. Abigail Martin won the girls’ equivalent with 53.30m, while world U20 champion Brandon Pottinger cleared 2.00m to win the boys’ U20 high jump.

The Jamaicans were unstoppable in the 4x400m relays, with commanding victories in all four finals. They brought the curtains down on the Games with a scintillating victory in the boys’ U20 event in a world-leading 3:07.68, more than two seconds ahead of runner-up Trinidad and Tobago. Moments earlier, in the penultimate event, Jamaica’s U20 girls delivered a peerless performance, stopping the clock at 3:33.35.

Noel Francis for World Athletics