Neighbouring St Lucia hosted the 38th edition of the annual Carifta Games at the expansive George Odlum Stadium, Vieux Fort, during the period 10 – 13 April 2009. It was the first time that St Lucia hosted the region’s most premier track and field event. This means that St Lucia now joins Turks and Caicos Islands and St Kitts and Nevis as the more recent first-time hosts of this event.
The 38th edition of the annual Carifta Games was the most successful since the establishment of this remarkable sporting activity. There were more athletes and officials than at any previous edition of the Games with more than 700 in attendance.
Jamaica once more showed that it has the greatest depth in the sport of track and field athletics by capturing 39 gold, 15 silver and 13 bronze medals. Trinidad and Tobago was next with nine gold, 10 silver and 10 bronze medals with Barbados in third with four gold, nine silver and eight bronze medals.
Interestingly, a total of 13 new Carifta Games records were established.
One of the most significant features of this year’s Carifta Games was the continued spread of medals amongst the Carifta family. While Jamaica still rules the roost there is no doubt that more countries are winning medals at the Games. Jamaica has had larger medal hauls in the past.
The host country, St Lucia, did its best at the Carifta Games. For the first time that country won four gold and two silver medals.
All of the participating countries agreed on the success of the 38th edition of the Carifta Games, testimony to the vibrancy of the event and its tremendous popularity.
IAAF officials also seem to agree that the Carifta Games stands alone as the best regional track and field competition in the world.
St Vincent and the Grenadines team was hopeful that this year some medals would be won. The first three days of competition saw the national representative team leaving the stadium empty-handed. This changed on the last day of competition when Delhonni Samuel, son of former national athlete, Dane Samuel, ran himself into second position, capturing the silver medal in the gruelling 5000m event in the Under 20 category.
The other athletes on the Vincentian team gave of their best.
The preparation of athletes for the annual Carifta Games requires much more work all around than currently obtains.
Preparation involves early identification of the talented athletes. More often than not this has been done.
Coaches have been involved in the Grassroots Talent Identification Programme (GTIP) of Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines (TASVG) and the NOC for some time and have therefore been seeing athletes from an early age.