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Carifta athletes on show at Southern Games
Carifta Games-bound shot putter Ianna Roach along with 23 of her fellow athletes will use the Southern Games Invitational Meeting on Sunday as preparation for the upcoming premier track and field Carifta Games Meet to be held in The Bahamas from March 30-April 2.
Roach like her teammates will be challenged by some T&T's leading international athletes at the 54th edition of the Games which will take place at the Guaracara Park, Pointe-a-Pierre, starting at 1 pm.
Initially the Games was cancelled due to a lack of funding as a result of T&T's economic downturn according to a release from the organising committee. However, the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs in collaboration with the business community came to the rescue and agreed to partner with the Southern Games Committee to overcome its financial challenges.
Sport Minister Darryl Smith on Wednesday presented a cheque worth $150,000 to Carol Grandison, Event Coordinator of the Southern Games, to assist in the staging of the event. On hand for the presentation was Olympic gold medallist and T&T's Sport Ambassador, Hasely Crawford, who himself is a former participant and victor at multiple editions of the Games.
In a release last week, Minister Smith said: “The MSYA is thankful for working closely with Mr Crawford and the Southern Games Committee. This is a national, iconic event, and the Ministry therefore could not allow these Games to be cancelled this year.”
The Games, which is one of the longest running annual sporting events in T&T, beginning in 1964, was previously held over two days and featured athletes from around the world, but will now be held as a one-day invitational and will focus on local track and field athletes and cyclists.
Roach, last year's Carifta Under-18 girls champion, will appreciate the challenge against some worthy opponents as this year the Memphis Pioneers will compete in the U-20 category at the Carifta Games. The field include Shaunna Downey of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and World Masters Indoor and Outdoor gold medallist Palo Seco's Gwendolyn Smith.
A number track athletes will get that same opportunity including sprinters Timothy Frederick (Simplex), Point Fortin New Jets' (PFNJ) Onil Mitchell and Ako Hislop (Kaizen Panthers), who will race against the likes of reigning national sprint champion Emmanuel Callender of Memphis Pioneers in the men's 100 metres dash.
In the women's version of the race, Concorde duo Akilah Lewis and Janea Spinks will face the starter alongside two-time defending champion Kumaria Durant of Simplex and Olympian Reyare Thomas (Abilene Wildcats).
Lewis, Durant and Thomas will face off again in the women's 200m so too in the men's race where Frederick returns to compete against Olympian Kyle Greaux (Abilene) with fellow Carifta-bound athlete Tyrel Edwards.
In the age-groups category, Cougars Shaniqua Bascombe will aim to do the sprint double in the Girls Under-17 division as well as Shakeem McKay (Abilene) and Jordan Pope in the boys 100m and 200m events while Natasha Fox will attempt the feat in the Girls U-15 grouping.
Joanna Rogers, who will race in the 800m in Bahamas, will contest the women's 400m which will feature another Olympian in Janeil Bellille also of Abilene.
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