By Juanita Hooper
Coach of the 2013 CARIFTA Games Team which returned home yesterday after participating at the XLII CARIFTA Games in The Bahamas, Mark Scott,
said some members of the local team were approached by Jamaican and American scouts to attain scholarships.
“The athletes were approached by scouts from the United States and Jamaica for them to go on Scholarships,” said Scott in an exclusive interview with Stabroek Sport.
The team which comprised of locals, Cassey George, Jevina Straker, Tirana Mitchell, Alita Moore, Avon Samuels, Jason Yaw; US-based Kadecia Baird and Ashley Tasher won six medals inclusive of two gold medals, one silver and two bronze and finished seventh in the medal haul at the junior games which was held at the Thomas Robinson Stadium.
Scott said that a lot of work was done within the two available days before the games with the athletes in getting them accustomed to the synthetic track and acclimatized to the new environment.
“For some, it was the first and some had some issues with the blocks but we had a plan for every event. We put in a lot of work on the track and I got the athletes accustomed and acclimatized to the rubber track,” the coach said proudly.
Despite all of the athletes not winning medals, the coach said he was elated with the performance as it was not easy.
“We all have to work with these athletes to make them better for the 2016 Olympics,” he said.
Scott said that motivation was what propelled the athletes to win.
“The Triple Jump athlete (Alita Moore) did a personal best even though she did not medal. I had to motivate the athletes a lot of times. I know their talent, even though I am not their personal coach, I know their ability from seeing them performing at meets. It was just to assist with their technical aspect of the race or event for them and that was exactly what I did in The Bahamas.”
He said the sprinters from the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) Trials were all finalist in the sprint events at the games; something that has never happened before at the CARIFTA Games.
“It was a pleasure to work with these athletes. I will continue to lend my support as much as possible. I am going to go back with the coaches and we are going to discuss on how we can improve the performances of the athletes and continue to monitor them not only on track but in school as well.”
Scott said he became a preacher to the athletes, especially to Mitchell who could have medaled in the 100m but was unable to after she relaxed after completing 70m of the race.
“When Tirana ran the 100m at 70m she was actually within one, two, three but relaxed after…so I was actually preaching to her in the 200m finals to finish the race and she medaled winning bronze.”
“I must give credit to Coach Shawn Dietz who was there from the United States with Kadecia Baird and we worked as a team to get the best out of these athletes.”
Amada Hermonstine, the manager of the team, said the Games were challenging but added that it was the first time for Guyana to achieve such a performance at the CARIFTA Games.
“I urge the athletes to continue training hard and I hope that corporate Guyana can lend more support. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all those who contributed and supported the team to attend the games, Trophy Stall, Digicel, National Sports Commission, Toucan Industry, Ming’s’ Optical.”
Hermonstine said the large teams of the Jamaicans, Bahamian and Barbadians did not daunt the athletes.
“We were small in numbers but we were a quality team. There were 26 countries participating and most of the countries that were there had teams of 70 and 55 athletes. We had a team of only eight and finished seventh in the medal haul which I think is a significant achievement for Guyana.”
Aubrey Hutson President of the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) in his remarks on the team overall performance said it was a litmus test to their programme which indicated that they are heading in the right direction.
“It was a tremendous boost to their programme and shows confidence in what we are doing for the athletes. I am heartened by everything. I thank everyone that made it possible for us to go to The Bahamas.”
The 2013 local CARIFTA athletes arrived in Guyana around 1:30am yesterday and received a warm welcome from athletes, coaches, relatives, executive members of the AAG and the media at the Dr. Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.