THE decision for the postponement of the CARIFTA Games in Hamilton, Bermuda was not taken lightly by the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) and the Bermuda Athletics Association.
This was done in the best interest of all stakeholders against the backdrop of the rapidly evolving situation with regard to the COVID -19 across the globe and supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring a global pandemic, which has led several countries including Saint Lucia, to close their borders, cease travel and stop mass gatherings.
The VOICE spoke to Cornelius Breen of the Saint Lucia Athletics Association (SLAA) about the postponement of this year’s CARIFTA Games amidst the Coronavirus (COVID -19). The event was scheduled for Bermuda over the Easter Weekend of Friday 10th – Monday 13th April.
He noted that SLAA was “disappointed” but added “it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
“As President of the SLAA, I support the NACAC executive as well as the Bermuda Athletics Federation (BAF) in this decision.”
Breen Said, “The SLAA will continue to monitor all future developments with the view of the Bermuda 2020 CARIFTA Games being placed back on the calendar at the earliest possible date shortly after an all clear is given to resume normalcy.”
He continued, “We too as an executive will have to make the adjustment as well since we still have our age group, national individual and the club relay championships on our calendar; we will have to make a decision moving forward.”
The VOICE also spoke to Breen about the recently held National Juniors/ CARIFTA Trials and the standards set by his organization. Breen said, “Based on the preliminary results we have two qualifiers in the persons of Jeremiah Felix and Jerome Marcel in the boys Pole Vault.”
“Watching from inside out as president, the numbers look small. We are in a transition phase, and in the midst we have quite a few talents.”
In terms of the CARIFTA standards Breen said, “Our CARIFTA standards will be in place up until 2021. The various coaches on island will have enough time to prepare their athletes to ensure come 2021 when Team Saint Lucia goes over to Georgetown, Guyana for the CARIFTA Games our numbers (athletes) and medal haul will improve especially on the work currently ongoing in the Jumps”.
“When the all clear is given amidst the COVID -19, we are looking forward to see how we are going to implement the other areas to include throws, sprints and middle distances. We want to build all round athletes”.
Sharing his thoughts on the standards set for this year’s CARIFTA Games, Breen noted “In the past we had standards set and persons achieving them and when they are selected for the Games they fall through/ knockout in the first round of competition. They fail to make it to the second round and finals or even achieve World Juniors or World Youth standards. We felt we needed to make it a bit more challenging for our coaches as well as the athletes to put in the hard work and when they achieve the standards it’s not a one round competition but will be able to go to the finals.”
Asked about the last time Saint Lucia won a medal of any color at the Carifta Games, Breen stated, “We have not won any CARIFTA Games medal for the last four years (2016) and that’s the reason last year the SLAA executive and its technical staff made the decision for a two year cycle so the athletes will have sufficient time to prepare and meet the standards set and be able to compete against some of the region’s best.”