By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
The 2019 Dag Samuels Development Series kicked off Saturday with four athletes qualifying for the April 20-22 Carifta Games in the Cayman Islands.
Diamante Gumbs set the pace when he heaved the U20 Boys Shot Put out to 16.80 meters. Just after his throw landed, Jaleel Croal ran a 100m personal best of 10.99 seconds to book his ticket in the U17 Boys Division.
Across the field in the Discus, Djimon joined his twin brother when he heaved the platter, 53.10 meters, which he later improved to 54.10. Diamante added his second Carifta event when he hurled the disc out to 52.39m. In the same event, Palesa Caesar punched her first trip to the games when she hurled the implement 34.90m.
“Everything surprised me today. I wasn’t even expecting any of this to be honest,” Diamante told Island Sun Sports. “But, I thank God for giving me the strength to do what I had to do. I’m at a loss for words.”
Qualify in both events, Diamante said, means that he has put in a lot of work and he has a lot of work to do, including strength training and technique work.
“Once I get the two of those down pact with big faith and hard work, I feel like I’m going to make it far,” he stated, adding it’s good to have his brother Djimon on the team as it serves as motivation for each other.
Djimon said they worked hard in the off season, the results are showing, but obviously have more work to do. He’s content with his performance and qualifying for Carifta.
“By Carifta we’ll be ready,” he said. “I’m trying to get a gold medal for both shot and disc at Carifta.”
Caesar said she was surprised with her 34.90m measurement.
“I never threw that far in practice, I used to throw 30-32m,” said the 13 year old who took up the event after Hurricane Irma. “When I heard the mark I said ‘I’m going Carifta’ I was so happy. I thank all my coaches and my teammates for their support first of all. I did a lot of work in the gym, tried to improve our throws during practice. I’m dedicated to anything I put my mindset too.”
Croal who will be 16 this year, is just the third BVI male athlete besides Derwin Scatliffe in 1987 and Rikkoi Brathwaite to be a Carifta Games 100m finalist, after placing fifth last year.
“Before the race, I said I was going to qualify early and get it out the way and I did that and ran a personal best of 10.99 seconds,” he said. “I saw what it was like last year and I put that in my mind that it’s not a game. I have to train hard. I’ve been working on my form which was really wack and speed drills. I also want to improve in the 200m. I was third in my heat last year and I want to change that.”
At the Collegiate level, Findlay Jr. Eldred Henry opened his season with a meet record that also broke the 2012 school record and Great Midwest Athletic Conference record, with an effort of 19.44m in the Shot Put.
“I was around what I was aiming for. I just took three throws and then shut it down,” he said. “Got a long season ahead. It’s only the beginning.”