National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) president Ephraim Serrette is anticipating an improved performance from the Trinidad and Tobago team at this weekend's Flow Carifta Games, in Curacao.
At the 2016 edition of the regional junior championships, held in Grenada, T&T earned just 14 medals, the country's smallest total since the 1993 Games in Martinique, where sprinter Alicia Tyson led the charge with two gold medals out of a total haul of 10—four golds, three silver, three bronze.
“I expect a better overall showing than last year,” Serrette told the Express, “once everybody stays healthy and focused.”
The T&T squad for Carifta 2017 has been trimmed from 51 to 49, following the withdrawal of injured Under-18 sprinters Jenea Spinks and Shakeel John.
“After the Falcon Games in Tobago on the weekend, they complained about some discomfort. Spinks and John were sent to the medical team, and were advised to seek therapy and save themselves for other meets later this year.
“But we have sufficient depth in the Under-18 sprint relay pools,” Serrette continued. “We have ample back-up in Caliyah Wallace and Rae-Anne Serville among the girls and long jumper Aaron Cruickshank among the boys.” Serrette said injured Under-18 quarter-miler Che Lara was withdrawn from the Carifta squad last week, and replaced by Kiddel Carrington, who has been added to the 4x400m relay pool.
Two of the three T&T gold medallists at Carifta 2016 will defend their titles in Curacao. Khalifa St Fort bids to repeat as Girls Under-20 100 metres champion, while Tyriq Horsford chases a hat-trick of Boys Under-18 javelin titles.
T&T's third reigning champion, Boys Under-20 200m gold medallist Akanni Hislop is on scholarship at Louisiana State University (LSU), and will not attend the Games. But US-based heptathlete Tyra Gittens is making the trek to Curacao, and is among the athletes Serrette expects to do well.
“We also have Avindale Smith and Akilah Lewis in the under-18 sprints. And of course there's Tyriq, Khalifa and quartermiler Joshua (Jacob) St Clair.”
Team T&T will leave for Curacao on a charter flight this afternoon. Carifta 2017 opens on Saturday and will end on Monday.