Despite acknowledging that the current crop of under 17 athletes is of greater potential for medals than that of recent years, the leadership of the TCI Track and Field squad to the 50th CARIFTA Games in Nassau, Bahamas remain cautiously optimistic.
The 20-member team, departed the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday, is a believing aggregation that will take party in the blue-ribbon regional track and field championship over the Easter Weekend.
Head Coach Randy Ford stated that while they have assembled a talented bunch, they will not make any medal predictions, stating that the majority the squad comprised very young talents, which even next year, most will be able to compete in the under 17 category.
“The greater portion of the athletes are the younger set. Some are still in the under 17 category come next year. So, it is great when you have a mixture of age and more youthful athletes. And the potential of the younger ones is more than I have seen in recent years,” Ford said.
Ford reasoned that due to logistical challenges, some members of the relay team would begin practicing when they get to the Bahamas because they did not get the chance to practice prior.
“So, as soon as we get to Nasau, I will get that sorted out,” Ford assured.
Some of the athletes are also based in Jamaica and in the United States.
Ford said the TCI will enter 18 individual races, but said he might scratch at least one of those individual events due to clashing schedule.
“There are two entries that I may cancel. Malique Evens, for example, he is down for 400m, 800m and high jump. And I am noticing that there is a clash with the high jump and the 800m. The high jump is his strongest event, so I will cancel that at the technical meeting,” Ford said.
He added: “But as it relates to throws, we have four throwers out there, we have two high jumpers, we have three long jumpers, and we have a number of entries for the 100m, 200m and 400m. The 800m and the 1500m however, is the weakest we have seen it in recent time, so we didn’t put many entries in for that. So, we have one youngster for the 800m and two for the 1500m, particularly in the 17 and under category.
Ford is giving the under 20 men’s relay team a chance at medaling.
“In terms of talent, they are balanced. In recent years there have been two or three good ones, but now, we have a complete squad, and the key is to get the baton safely from person to person for the three changes.
The under 17 boys are pretty talented, but it is a young group who will be under 17 next year. So, I don’t want to call medal challenges and put pressure on them because they are young. But I am hoping for some big performances,” Ford said.
Malique Evans, who will be participating in the high jump and 400m, said that he is hoping to land a medal for his country. Last year, Evans placed fourth in the high jump, and believes he can better that performance this year, having garnered much more experience.
“I feel nervous, but I am going to try to do my best. I think I may come away with a third place for high jump or maybe a second…I am aiming for first though,” Evans said.