By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
The territory’s leading Jr. and Sr. athletes were gearing up for the April 11-13 Carifta Games in Bermuda and the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan, July 24-Aug 9.
As they prepared, the coronavirus prepared to spread around the globe, cancelling the Carifta Games last week and the Olympic Games on Tuesday.
“I honestly was very upset that the Carifta Games was cancelled, because I expected so much this year,” Under 17 Girls Discus Thrower Palesa Caesar who improved her best from 37.06m to 39.90m told Island Sun Sports. “I expected to medal, most likely. I was surely disappointed, because in my mind, this was the year to medal for me.”
Despite having the uncertainty of when the Carifta Games will now be held, Caesar and her teammates have been training nevertheless and said that she’s motivated just to get it right.
“I just want to get a good throw, my steps are right and I throw far,” she said. “Practices have been going very well, but you know there are ups and downs in throwing. It’s very challenging to stay motived because they can say Carifta is this weekend and I’ll feel like I’m not prepared for It so that’s why I have to stay on top of my game all the time.”
U17 counterpart Orlando Douglas said when he heard of the cancellation, it made his mind ‘dizzy.’
“I was very shocked when I heard that because this year would have been my year to accomplish what I want to accomplish,” said Douglas who recorded a personal best of 47.94m in the Discus Throw, adding that the coronavirus was something distant before Carifta was cancelled. “Everybody was training, staying focused and staying fit.”
Jaleel Croal—who won U17 Boys 200m gold and 100m bronze in 2019 and will move to the U20 division this year, told Island Sun Sports he wasn’t surprised by the cancellation.
“Because of what was happening, I expected it,” Croal said. “I’m still training. I haven’t backed off or anything. Still going at it like its tomorrow. I haven’t focused on anything else and when everything gets back to normal, then my mind will be on that (Carifta Games.”
Chantel Malone, the 2019 Pan Am Games Long Jump gold medalist said she was initially disappointed because she had been working really hard in preparation for the Olympic Games.
“I’ve thought about it and I’m thankful that they’re putting our health first,” Malone said. “With everything going on, the restrictions definitely put a limitation on training in regards to what we can and can’t do. So in all retrospect I think postponing the Olympics is for the better good and will give us more time to be even more prepared to produce awesome results. There’s a silver lining in every story.”
With the coronavirus affecting everyone, Malone said having the Olympics would have put many at a disadvantage as they would not have been adequately able to prepare and thinks postponing the event was the right one.
“We’ve all been working hard and it’s unfortunate that it has come to this, but ultimately, it is the right decision,” she said. “We just have to take the silver lining behind it which is, you have more time to prepare; you don’t know when the season will start back; we don’t know what really is the next step but we do know that we still have this dream and this goal in mind and you just have to stay committed to that goal because it hasn’t changed. It’s still the Olympics, it’s just at a different time.”
It will mark only the second time in its 49 year history the Carifta Games will not be held over the Easter weekend and the first time that an Olympic Games has been postponed.