Hodge leads Carifta Games gold rush and captures Austin Sealy Award

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Adajeah Hodge, center, ahead of Dominica’s Kerelle Etienne and Haiti’s Breanne Barnett in the 100m prelims. She ran 11.29 seconds to win the final. PHOTO: CM Farrington Photography 

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

Adajeah Hodge had a Carifta Games debut like no athlete in BVI history since participation began in 1976 and few others regionally have ever done in the history of the event that began in 1972, in their debut.

Hodge capped an exhilarating three days of competition with her 3rd U17 Girls gold medal on Monday, picking up one each day and the coveted Sir Austin Sealy Award, for the most outstanding boy or girl in the region’s premier U20 Championships, now in its 49th year.  With her three golds and one from Savianna Joseph, the BVI was 3rd on the medal table, its highest placing in the event since winning its first medal in 1978, with 4 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze for seven medals, just one shy of the 8 won by the 2013 team in Nassau, Bahamas.  

Debutant Hodge began her quest for glory, narrowly missing the U17 Girls 100m meet record by .02, when she stopped the clock at 11.29 seconds (0.5), to improve her National Youth and Jr. Record of 11.44 seconds(0.8) from the semis. She ran 11.54 in the prelims into a -3.2 meters per second wind, announcing that was ready for business.

Lurking in 3rd place in the Long Jump on Sunday, Hodge who was to run Heat 1 of the U17 Girls 200m, was able to complete her final leap and cut the sand at 6.20m (20’4’) with a +4.1 mps tailwind, to snatch her second gold. She left the pit, got in her blocks and dropped 23.74 seconds on the field to win her heat and advanced to the final. She ran 24.19 (-2.3) to get out of the semis.

“I went back to the Long Jump wearing the wrong shoes—I’m not wearing my jumping spikes, I’m wearing my running spikes,” she noted. “On the runway, I was like, no pressure Deja, you got this, just count your steps, stay loose, stay normal, do everything like nothing happened, and I did. I jumped 6.20m, which is a big PB.” The jump had a +4.1 wind, over the allowable 2.0.

In the 200m final on Monday,  the speedster ran 23.42 seconds into a -3.0 meters pers second wind, to secure the gold and the Sir Austin Sealy Award, which was presented by Sealy, who founded the Carifta Games in 1972.

“It’s great to win three gold medals, I’m proud of myself. I’ve been working hard for this moment and for it to come through, is a great relief,” Hoge said. “But I’m still going to be working hard in the lab. It’s really special (winning three golds). I think I brought really great pride to my country and I’m happy for that.”

Savianna Joseph became the territory’s first Shot Put gold medalist with a domineering performance of 13.54m (44’5”) in the U17 Girls division. So dominant was her series, that her second best mark of 13.21m (43’4”) would have also won and her third best mark of 13.02m (42’8½”), would have claimed bronze. She was 4th in the Discus with 34.31m (112’6¾”).  “After I threw and realized I came first, I felt very happy,” Joseph said. “I started to break down praying, because I couldn’t believe that I actually came first and I have a gold medal to go home with.”

Jah’Kyla Morton won the territory’s first medal, when she cleared 1.60m (5’3”) to grab U17 Girls High Jump bronze. Her performance surpassed Ereia Smith’s 4th place finish in 1990, also in Kingston. A’Sia McMaster was 6th with 1.50m (4’11”).

“When I won the medal, I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t have any emotions,” Morton said. “I wasn’t happy. It just felt regular to me. I know it was a big thing, but I felt I could have done better in the High Jump so that’s why I wasn’t all that excited.”

On Saturday, Morton used a last attempt leap of 5.41m (17’9”) (1.9), to finish 6th in the Long Jump and along with Hodge, marked the first time two BVI athletes were in the top six in the U17 Girls event.

A’Keela McMaster used a gutsy performance to grab silver, with the BVI’s 1st Heptathlon medal in its Carifta Games history. Sitting on 3652 points in 3rd place 111 points ahead of 4th, McMaster ran the 800m of her life for her 3rd straight 3rd place finish, when she ran 2 minutes, 38.15 seconds, worth 594 points, bringing her total to 4246, just 1 point better than Trinidad and Tobago’s Gianna Paul’s 4245.    

“I was completely shocked when I heard I was second because in my head, they already told me that I was in third and I just had to beat the girl that was in third before, so I didn’t think the 800 would have helped me get to second,” McMaster explained. “I’m not necessarily happy with the points I scored (because) I wanted to break the national record. The Long Jump, High Jump and 200m is where I fell off. I do not run 26 in the 200, that was my problem. I got really aggravated when I saw that I ran 26.”

The quartet of Akrisa Eristee, Kaeylaah Liburd, Kenyatta Grate and A’Keela McMaster, ran 3 minutes 45.67 seconds to secure U20 Girls 4×4 relay silver.

In the U20 Boys Octathlon, Jelani Croal ran an aggressive 1,500m in 4 minutes, 47.16 seconds to cut the deficit from over 100 points, but missed a bronze medal by 43 points and settled for 4th with 4845 points. Mychael Claxton was 7th with 3783.   

Finalists

Wanyae Bell became just the 2nd U20 Boys 100m finalist since 1976, when we finished 5th in 10.61 seconds, (0.7) after qualifying for the World Jr. Championships in the prelims with 10.57 (-2.2) clocking. He debuted with 10.78 (-2.4) in the prelims. He then became just the 3rd U20 Boys 200m finalist since 1978. He fell asleep in the blocks but clawed his way back to sixth place in 22.01 seconds (-2.5). He ran 21.50 seconds in the semis to advance, after running 21.87 (-0.4) in the prelims.  

After a non-advancing 11.01 seconds (-2.4) in the U20 Boys 100m, Jaleel Croal made the semis after finishing 2nd in his heat in 21.99. He was a non-advancing 6th in his semi.

 Liburd was 4th in the U20 Girls 400m in 53.84 seconds, while Eristee followed in 5th with 54.41. Liburd ran 55.65 and Eristee, 55.83, to advance.

In joining a small number of U20 Boys  800m finalists, Jahshani Farrington ran an aggressive race for a personal best 1 minute, 55.01 seconds and a fifth place finish. He  advanced to the final as a non-automatic qualifier, after finishing 5th in 1:57.91. Before him, Jonathan Lynch ran a personal best 2 minutes 01.09 seconds, to finish 4th in the U17 Boys 800m.

J’Mari Duhaney was 4th in the U20 Boys 400m Hurdles in 56.62 seconds.

Grate—just the 3rd finalist—was 6th in the U20 Girls 200m in 25.21 seconds (-1.7), after advancing with a personal best 24.91 (-3.2).

Field Events

U20 Girls Discus Thrower Palesa Caesar, had the best series of her career when she finished sixth with a heave of 42.32m (138’10½”), after opening with 42.12 (138’2¼”). An 11.73m (38’5¾”) effort in the Shot Put, was good for 5th place. 

Amid foul troubles, Orlando Douglas notched an U20 Boys Discus Throw personal best of 46.52m (152’7½”), to finish fifth, while Andre Smikle had an unlooked for 28.64m (93’11½”), for 12th. Douglas placed 7th in the Shot Put with 14.43m (47’4”), while Smikle followed in 8th with 12.94 (42’5½”).

U17 Boys Long Jumper Gabriel Cline, recorded a best leap of 6.37m (20’10”) (-0.7) to place 6th, while Dimitri Varlack’s 5.98m (19’7½”) was 9th. An injury knocked 2019 U17 Boys Long Jump silver medalist Khybah Dawson out of the U20 Boys Long Jump on his first attempt.

Other performances

Amia Todman ran a personal best of 12.42 seconds in the U20 Girls 100m. Johari Lacey ran 11.41, (0.3) in his U17 Boys 100m heat, to place seventh. Dikya Thomas placed 5th in her U17 Girls 100m in 12.85. J’Den Jackson and Lacey, ran personal bests of 23.96 (-2.8) and 24.14 (-3.2) respectively in the U17 Boys 200m.

M’Khori Crabbe had a 7th place showing in his U20 Boys 400m heat in 52.85 seconds.  

A’Sia was 4th in the 100m Hurdles in 15.38 seconds (1-.8) and Vinesha John, 6th in 15.95. DiaMonae Thomas was 4th in the U20 Girls segment in 15.46 (-2.0). 

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