By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Last Thursday, sprinter Rikkoi Brathwaite wrapped up his competition in the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, to close out his U20 Boys track and field career.
Brathwaite, the territory’s first male sprinter to automatically qualify in both the 100 and 200m, in the championships, also became the first advancing to the semifinals in both events.
Brathwaite advanced to the 200m semis last Thursday morning after placing fourth in his preliminary heat with a time of 21.22 seconds, before later being disqualified for stepping on the line, running on the curve. The only other BVI male athlete to advance beyond the semis in any event in the competition that began in 1986 when the territory also made its debut, was Kyron McMaster, who won 400m Hurdles bronze in 2016.
Brathwaite’s fourth place 100m finish in 10.44 seconds in the prelims, saw him advancing to the semis as an automatic qualifier, becoming the first BVI sprinter to do so in 32 years. He matched the same time and place in the semis, with the 11th best mark of the 24 qualifiers, 19 of who completed the event.
“In the prelims, I was a bit more relaxed in the race and felt executing my race in the drive phase was good. I stood up and turned over,” Brathwaite analyzed after the semifinal. “After the semifinal, we reviewed the race and what me and my coaches think, was that I concentrated a little too much on executing power, more than turning over. The difference between the two races, was that I was a bit more tense in the semifinals than in the prelims.”
In April, Brathwaite added to his burgeoning athletic prowess when he became the territory’s first Carifta Games finalist and medalist in the U20 Boys 100m. He earned bronze in the competition that the BVI first entered in 1976. He is also a two times U18 Boys 100m finalist—one of of just three since 1987 to reach the final when Derwin Scatliffe became the first—but Brathwaite is the first two times U18 finalist.
When asked about his most memorable moment in track and field thus far in his career, Brathwaite, an Indiana red shirt freshman, took a deep retrospective sigh.
“Believe it or not, my most memorable moment was when I won division champion in the Leeward Islands Youth Championships,” said Brathwaite who now holds both 100 and 200m National Jr. Records, with times of 10.43 and 21.21 seconds. “Of course I won the first medal for the BVI at the Carifta Games in the 100m. But, for some reason, the trophy I won in the Leeward Islands Youth Championships, was just more memorable to me.”