By Neto Baptiste
One member of the coaching staff for the Antigua and Barbuda junior national track and field team to the recently held Friendship Invitational Games in Martinique, Kesswin Anthony, was not surprised by their success after coming away with eight gold and nine silver medals.
Speaking on the heels of the team’s return to Antigua, Anthony said the absence of a number of the region’s top countries at the event opened the doors for other athletes to excel.
“We already knew that Jamaica, Trinidad, Bahamas, which are basically the sprinting powerhouse in the Caribbean at the junior level would not have been there and based on the crop of athletes we have we knew that we normally hold our own at Carifta and bearing in mind those countries were not going to be there we expected to pick up a few gold medals. We had Geolyna who made the Carifta finals, Dwayne repeated as gold medallist from the Carifta Games, Zody was running well, Osei, Alyssa and all of them so we had the expectation of picking up a few medals,” he said.
Anthony said he was particularly buoyed by the enthusiasm shown by the athletes to go out and compete.
“Even though it wasn’t the level at Carifta, they still showed the same temperament they showed at Carifta because they actually did not know what to expect. They didn’t do any research as to who was coming and the times they were running, so the body language was basically the same as Carifta. As they went onto the track and competed I saw they started to get a bit more relaxed and realised that it was not as hard. They started to get less nervous, more eager to compete and they all wanted to win a medal, especially the two guys who went for the relay after they saw everybody else winning a medal,” he said.
The coach added that the recent meet was challenging from a management perspective given the timeframe during which it was held.
“At Carifta there was Mrs Heather Samuel Daley there, Jamille Nelson and the work was basically shared amongst the three of us. In Martinique it was me and Sonia Williams alone and it was a lot more work because it was basically the same [number] of athletes and this was a one-day meet so the schedule [was] more compact. One person had to be at the warm up track, one person has to be watching the race to make the corrections for the finals and making sure they are checked into the call room, so it was a lot more work at the meet in Martinique,” Anthony said.
Antigua and Barbuda also won gold and silver in the boys and girls 4 x 100 meter relay events.