Hooper tipped to medal as CARIFTA Games athletes wing out for Curacao

Guyana’s top youth and junior athletes departed for the FLOW CARIFTA Games yesterday as the country looks set to once again compete for podium places during the annual regional championships over three days.

The 2017 games, which marks the 46th edition, takes place in Curacao from Easter Saturday at the five-year-old national athletic stadium and about 600 athletes are scheduled to compete.

Guyana, which has fared well at the games over the years, won five medals last year. That medal count comprised three silver and two bronze. Once again the mighty Jamaicans are expected to dominate and win their 33rd straight title.

Chantoba Bright
Natricia Hooper

Last year in Grenada, the athletes from the global sprint powerhouse, captured a record haul of 86 medals, 42 gold, 28 silver and 16 bronze.

The first Guyanese athletes scheduled to be in action on the track are Kenisha Phillips and Onasha Rogers. Phillips and Rogers will be in action in the Girls U-18 100m preliminaries.

According to the tentative schedule of events, that race is scheduled to start at 9:20 am Saturday. The opening day will feature some 20 finals, including the 100 and 400-metre finals of all the age groups. The first round of the 100-metre dash is set to start at 9:20am with the girls’ Under-18 event, while the opening round of the 400m is set to start at 10:20am with the girls’ Under-18 event. All finals in the 100 metres and 400 metres will take place in the afternoon session. The day will also feature the 1500-metre finals.

One of the Coaches of the outfit, Johnny Gravesande, when interviewed was upbeat about the chances of the athletes returning with hardware.

Some of the athletes and officials for the FLOW CARIFTA Games posed for a photo at the National Gymnasium with Director of Sport, Christopher Jones before departing yesterday for Curacao.

Gravesande singled out USA-based Natricia Hooper who he noted is the number-four ranked junior triple jumper in the world, along with last year’s CARIFTA Games double silver medalist, Chantoba Bright (long and triple jump), Daniel Williams and Claudrice McCoy as having realistic chances of finishing on the podium. He also noted that seasoned campaigners like Compton Caesar and Matthew McKenzie can spring upsets. The young explosive duo, Phillips and Rogers could potentially be in the medal mix.

The full squad selected to travel to the prestigious Games reads:

Chantoba Bright                  Female U18 Long Jump, High and Triple Jump
Claudrice McKoy                 Female U20 1500m
Kenisha Phillips                  Female U18 100m and 200m
Daniel Williams                   Male U18 200m and High Jump
Onasha Rogers                    Female U18 100m
Compton Caesar                 Male U20 100m and 200m
Anfernee Headecker          Male U20 800m
Tremaine Browne              Male U18 Long Jump and Triple Jump
Samuel Lynch                     Male U20 800m
Tarique Boyle                      Male U18 High jump
Natricia Hooper (USA)     Female U20 400m and Triple Jump
Matthew McKenzie            Male U20 5000m

The appointed coaches are Gravesande and Moses Pantlitz while Yvonne October is the Manager.

The CARIFTA Games were first held in 1972 and consists of track and field events, including sprint races, hurdles, middle distance track events, jumping, throwing events and relays. The Games feature two categories of participants – Under-18 and Under-20.

Those age groups are similar to the global competitions such as the World Youth (Under 18) and World Junior (Under 20).

Participating countries include: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Maarten, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.

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