Against the odds, 44th CARIFTA Games opens in St. Kitts with fanfare

The colourful fanfare of the opening came despite the local government scrambling to find accommodation for athletes and seating arrangements for spectators, as well as the pilots of beleaguered LIAT earlier threatening to strike during the games, creating panic and uncertainty over the time-honored Caribbean event.

Deputy Prime Minister Shawn Richards, and the minister of sports, said a day before the opening of the games that “not one cent was budgeted in respect of the Carifta Games” by the former Labour Administration and that “Carifta almost became an embarrassment.” Nevertheless, he was upbeat and praised the impact on the region’s young developing athletes.

“The Carifta games have a very rich legacy,” Minister Richards said in the presence of athletics officials, government officials, dignitaries, public officials, spectators and a regional press corps.

He highlighted that St. Kitts and Nevis first participated in the Carifta Games in 1977 in Barbados. Since then, he said, the Carifta Games have produced world-class athletes such as Kim Collins, Merlene Ottey, Usain Bolt, Pauline Davis, Yohan Blake, Obadiah Thompson and Kirani James, to name a few.

In 38 years, St. Kitts and Nevis has won 51 medals at the Carifta Games, six gold, 17 silver and 28 bronze.

“This is no mean achievement when one remembers we are one of the smallest members of the Carifta Games family with a population of just over 50,000,” Deputy Prime Minister Richards said.

Victor Lopez, council member of the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations), and president of NACAC (North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association), the governing body for athletics in the Americas, congratulated the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis for organizing the games.

JuncBahamas“There have been challenges and obstacles, but as a big family, we are all working for the common goals, and it looks like everything is in place to have a fantastic competition,” Lopez said.

Athletes, their coaches and officials, representing 26 countries are in St. Kitts for the four-day event. The countries represented are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Turks and Caicos Islands, the United States Virgin Islands and St. Kitts and Nevis.

Carifta is the Caribbean’s biggest junior track and field championships for athletes under 20 years.


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