Head Coach Rolle brimming over with confidence in team

Akaya Lightbourne

CARIFTA Head Coach Ali Rolle exudes confidence as Team Bahamas gets ready to compete in the 48th version of the junior regional track and field classic.

Coach Rolle predicts that the end result for the athletes representing The Bahamas April 20-22 at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, will be the best in many years.

“This is one of the most powerful teams we’ve had in the last several years,” said Rolle.

The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) ratified a 50 member team over this past weekend. The 2019 CARIFTA Trials took place, April 5-6 at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in Nassau, New Providence where over 60 athletes met to compete for a spot on this year’s junior national team. 

The BAAA’s revealed the list of athletes that Sunday evening, April 7. Seven of the athletes named are out of Grand Bahama. 

Enlisted for the Under-17 girls division are Grand Bahama’s Collinique Farrington (200 and 400 meters), Akaya Lightbourne (1500m) and Kenya Forbes (High Jump). Joining them will be Anthaya Charlton (100m; Long jump), Javonya Valcourt (400m), Breyanna Kemp (800m), Rowlia Joseph (800m), Jodie Ritchie (1500m), Rashae Dean (400m Hurdles), Shaunece Miller (High Jump), and Anne Marie Orakahi (Shot-Put).

The Under-17 boys team includes Grand Bahamian Mateo Smith (Long Jump). Also on that team are Davon Johnson (100m), Omar Kelly (800m), Tergenus Lovenski (800m), Denzel Sawyer (1500m), Mitchell Curtis (1500m; 3000m), Otto Laing (110m Hurdles), Wendall Miller (400m Hurdles),  Stephen Farquharson (High Jump) and Keyshawn Strachan (Javelin; Discus).

Selected to the Under 20 team, also out of Grand Bahama, is Hiltranique Pinder who qualified for the Heptathlon. The remainder of the Under 20 troop includes Jaida Knowles (100m), Kayvon Stubbs (200m), Megan Moss (400m), Jasmine Knowles (800m; 4x400m relay), Marissa White (4x400m relay), Gabrielle Gibson (100m Hurdles), Vinajah Adderley (Triple Jump), Rhema Otabor (Javelin), Latia Saunders (Javelin) and Kasha Neely (Heptathlon). 

Grand Bahamians Terrence Jones (200m; 400m) and Travis Joseph (High Jump) round out the “Grand Bahama Seven” headed to the Cayman Islands. They will join the Under 20 boys field of Adrian Curry (100; 4x100m), Rico Moultrie (100; 4x100m), Joel Johnson (4x100m), Ure Mills (4x100m), Marckenson Joseph (400m), Justin Bridgewater (800m), Gabriel Curtis (1500m; 5000m), Oscar Smith (110m Hurdles), Matthew Thompson (400m Hurdles), Denvaughn Whymns (110m Hurdles/Long Jump), Shaun Miller (High Jump), Michaelangelo Bullard (Javelin), Sean Rolle (Javelin), Vano Rahming (Pole Vault), Edvaughn Carey (Octathlon) and Patrick Johnson (Octathlon).

With home field advantage at the 2018 Games held in New Providence last year The Bahamas fielded 80 athletes. A year prior to that, 65 members went down to compete at CARIFTA in Wilemstead, Curacao. Despite a drop off in numbers, as aforementioned, this year Rolle is quite confident in the make-up of the team. 

The 50 listed names are strictly qualifiers. 

“This is the most qualifiers we’ve had in the last several years. The standards dropped rapidly so it was more difficult for them qualifying. Just to see that we had 50 qualifiers based on the standards dropping that much, we got a pretty good chance at winning CARIFTA or making a big deal going into CARIFTA next year,” he said. 

The athletes from Grand Bahama are expected to travel to New Providence this coming Saturday to begin training with the other members of the team. 

For Rolle, seeing the amount of pre-qualifiers this season was a welcome sight.

“Being at Trials, Nationals, and Island Sports before, I’ve seen maybe one athlete come through the line, looking outstanding. But, now I’m seeing three or four athletes literally dipping through the line and seeing two or three qualifiers in one event.

“Very seldom you’d see a case where you have two qualifiers in the 400m, and two or three qualifiers in the 100m. The Under 20 boys were running 10.30s, 10.40s, 10.60s. So we have a good chance of beating Jamaica in the 4x100m,” Rolle said.

Assisting Rolle in the coaching department will be Corrington Maycock, Clinton Smikle, Nekeno Demeritte and Allen Mortimer. The team doctor is Nadia Gilbert and in charge of Physiotherapy will be Kelly Kramp. 

Doris Ramsey and Sophia Higgs will share duties managing the squad. The coaching and management team appear to be on the same page according to Rolle, which he expects to make this year’s CARIFTA experience a memorable one.

“This is by far the best coaching staff I’ve been on and the best management team throughout the last seven CARIFTA teams I’ve been on. There are no bad vibes, period. As long as we have positive coaches, then the athletes have to follow,” he stated further.

On another issue, Rolle expressed the position that a second CARIFTA Trials event should be hosted to the benefit of the Grand Bahamian athletes. He explained that the consistent travel to meets in New Providence earlier in the year may have played a factor in the low number of Grand Bahama athletes qualifying. 

“If persons are wondering why only the seven athletes qualified out of Grand Bahama, the reason is because they took five trips to Nassau for competitions, their legs were dead. Traveling plays a major part so I feel now we need to try and get another CARIFTA Trials in there - one in Nassau and one in Freeport leading up to CARIFTA. 

“That way the kids wouldn’t have to burn their legs out by going to Nassau for Club Monica, Star Trackers, Road Runners, our CARIFTA Trials, Nationals - that’s a lot of traveling. So that’s basically why we don’t have more qualifiers from Freeport at this particular time.”

Gold medal totals determine where countries finish in the standings at the CARIFTA track and field meet. The Bahamas finished second in the standings at last year’s games with six gold medals, 35 overall (14 silver, 15 bronze). In 2017 Team Bahamas amassed same amount of gold medals but finished in third place behind Trinidad and Tobago, who collected seven gold medals that year. 

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