TT athletes eagerly anticipating the Carifta Games in Bermuda are disappointed that the annual event was cancelled because of the covid19 pandemic, but are taking the news in stride by looking forward to future meets.
On Monday, a letter from the general secretary of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) Keith Joseph to Carifta members, said, “Following on from the information session with the Carifta family held on Saturday 17 April 2021, subsequent emails and other communications with the leadership of the member federation of Bermuda (BNAA), the local organising committee of Carifta 2021, the Bermuda government and the NACAC council, NACAC officially regrets to inform you that the Carifta Games for 2021 is cancelled.”
Newsday contacted TT athletes who were keen on representing TT.
Natasha Fox, of Pt Fortin New Jets, who has represented TT in the Under-17 division previously, was aiming to run for TT in the Under-20 division for the first time.
Fox said, “I was shocked at first because everything was going really well with the planning, training and the preparation for everything for me to execute my race, so I was upset to hear that it was cancelled.”
Fox was targeting the 400m, 200m and the 4x400m relay.
Fox still has aspirations of flying the TT flag, saying this is just a bump in the road. “My dreams of representing the country are just on pause for now, but I will still be training hard (and) working towards all my goals. I will still be training every single day because you never know what could happen later down in the year.”
Dorian Charles, Fox’s team-mate at New Jets, had already made the Carifta standard in the Under-17 400m hurdles and javelin.
Charles said he was “looking forward” to Carifta, but is now hoping to compete in the NACAC Under-18 and Under-23 Games.
Charles is not giving up on competing for TT saying, “I will keep training hard until further notice.”
Nathaniel Mathura, who was set to represent TT in the Under-20 javelin event, is trying to have a positive outlook. In a Whatsapp message, Mathura said, “Disappointed Carifta is cancelled because I have been working really hard with my coaches. It is a pandemic.”
Mathura trains with Ismael Mastrapa Lopez, the coach of Olympic gold medallist Keshorn Walcott.
Mathura plans to continue training to compete in meets later this year.
“I am still hoping Pan Am Junior Championships takes place as I made the javelin standard for that. I am still working towards NACAC Under-23 Championships and making the javelin standard. As my Dad always says, prayer is the key cause without God nothing is possible. (I am) thankful for any opportunity.”
Former TT Carifta coach Ian Carter was expecting the announcement from NACAC. He said, “I am not disappointed because I don’t think there was another reasonable decision that they could have made. I think it was impossible to have the meet.”
Carter encouraged the junior athletes to keep striving. “I would understand their disappointment, but it is not the end of the world…my advice would be to persevere. Track and field does not end at the junior level. We actually have several senior athletes who never competed at Carifta and made it to the very top.”
A National Association of Athletics Administrations media release on Monday, said, “The decision comes as no surprise as the regional body has been liaising with its member federations with respect to developments in Bermuda. Notwithstanding, the decision will be hard felt by several athletes, especially those who would have already attained the qualification standards at various local meets.”
The release said that Carifta is an opportunity for junior athletes to be recognized.
“Carifta Games has traditionally been the entry point for international representation for many athletes and has served as a forum to attract scholarships for tertiary education in USA.”
There are a few events tentatively scheduled later in the year that the TT athletes can look forward to.
The NAAA release said, “While there are no guarantees that other events on the 2021 Calendar will be staged as scheduled, eligible athletes are now expected to shift focus to other major meets including NACAC Under-18 and Under-23 Championships, July 9-11 in San Jose, Costa Rica; World Athletics Under-20 Championships, August 17-22 in Nairobi, Kenya and the Pan Am Under-20 Athletics Championships, October 22-24 in Iquique, Chile.”