By Neto Baptiste
Members of Antigua and Barbuda’s team to the recently held NACAC Age Group Championships held in El Salvador over the weekend, have come in for high praise from coach and former national sprinter Heather Samuel-Daley.
The team finished fifth overall in the girls category and 14th in the boys category, winning two individual medals, with gold going to Ajani Daleyin the boys 80 meters sprint and bronze in the girls equivalent going to Alyssa Dyett.
“They had to compete in seven events in which our strength is always the sprints. Alyssa would have won a medal in this event before and so for her to repeat in the 80 meters this time is very commendable on her part. She also placed fourth in the long jump which is also a commendable achievement,” she said.
“In the boy’s category now, we [Ajani Daley] won the gold in the 80 meters boys and getting very close to the record. The other young man with him, Ivan Barnes,also did commendably. It’s sort of difficult to judge his strength because this is his first year of under-15, so when everybody else is now 14 and going to be 15 next year, he is just now making his 13th birthday,” she added.
Daley said the team’s biggest challenge was competing in the hurdles.
“We always have a problem because we don’t have competition hurdles; we have practice hurdles and to practice over those hurdles and then compete in real hurdles, and we didn’t even have a hurdles race, so for all of them to even attempt the hurdles then that is commendable. Ajani was able to improve on his cricket ball throw at 58.65 meters which is commendable, so the performances overall were pretty decent. I don’t have any complaints,” the former athlete said.
Samuel-Daley, who is also Antigua and Barbuda’s Director of Sports, is hoping the country could have an improved showing next time around.
“With the completion of YASCO and getting the right equipment for the next set of athletes that [is] going through is very important. And while we might have the gold in the 80 meters boys and Alyssa won the individual medal in the 80 meters girls, we would love to see a well-rounded team where they also compete in the other events. They are not going to be strong in all of the events, but we just want to make sure we give our children the best opportunity to compete at these events,” she said.
A total of 21 countries competed in the boys’ category while 18 countries contested the girls’ category.
The full Antigua and Barbuda team were Ajani Daley, Alyssa Dyett, Ivan Barnesand Mia McIntosh.