Budding star Smith happy to represent The Bahamas

 Home|Sports|He came, he saw, he conqueredSports

; looking for more success in the future

Sheldon LongleySend an emailApril 13, 2023 672 5 minute readFacebookTwitterLinkedInShare via Email

 Cayden Smith won gold medals in the under-17 boys 200m and the under-17 boys 4x100m relay at the 50th Oaktree CARIFTA Games.

Earlier this year, it was brought to the attention of administrators in the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) that there was a special talent with Bahamian background running at South Plantation High School in Plantation, Florida, USA, who would be a great asset to the CARIFTA team.

Still, he would have to confirm his legal status and come home and partake in the ICS Security Concepts Bahamas National High School Track and Field Championships/CARIFTA Trials to stand a chance of making the team.

Cayden Smith, just 15, proved that he was up to the challenge. Not only did he come home and qualify in his specialty, the 200 meters (m), but he went on to CARIFTA and won gold for The Bahamas in the under-17 boys 200m and added another gold in the 4x100m relay.

He was certainly one of the stars of the meet for the host country at the 50th Oaktree CARIFTA Games inside the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.

Smith ran a personal best time of 21.70 seconds for the gold medal in the under-17 boys 200m and was instrumental in the sprint relay team winning gold by running a strong second curve on the third leg. The South Plantation high school athlete flew back to South Florida on Tuesday with two CARIFTA gold medals in tow.

Ethan Sam, of Grenada, won the silver medal in the under-17 boys 200m in 21.96 seconds, and Smith’s teammate Andrew Brown claimed the bronze in 22.03 seconds.

“It’s a wonderful feeling. This is my mom’s home country and it feels like mine as well. It was quite an experience to come here, be a part of this Bahamas team, compete and win gold. It’s a thrilling experience that I will never forget,” he said.

Despite being in the US, and spending most of his life there, Smith said he feels right at home in The Bahamas. The 15-year-old standout athlete is looking forward to representing The Bahamas again this summer and into the future.

The Pan American Under-20 (U20) Athletics Championships is set for August 4-6 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and Smith certainly expects to be a member of that team.

“The people in general in The Bahamas are so friendly and welcoming and supportive. It’s just been a wonderful experience straight through. It’s OK in Plantation, but it’s much nicer over here – just the beaches and the food and the people. Island life is nice. I love it,” he said. “I just want to say thank you to everyone for supporting me and to say you will definitely see more of me in the future. I’m looking forward to competing at the Pan Ams.”

The young speedster has tremendous talent – top 20 in the world on the top performance list for under-18 athletes in 2023. His goal is to crack the 21-second barrier this year and go after the junior national record the following year. The junior national record is 20.36 seconds, ran by Terrence Jones in 2021. Smith said eventually he would like to experience global success in the 200m. He could be regarded as a late bloomer, having not gotten involved in athletics until his time at Seminole Middle School in Plantation, Florida.

“I started track and field about four years ago and I’ve been loving it ever since,” he said. “What I like about the 200 is that if I mess up my start, I still have time to come back and excel. I could run the curve good, but the best part of my race is the straightaway. Once I’m on that, I feel great. Eventually, I want to be the best in the 200 in the world. That’s my goal. That’s what keeps me going. Based on what I was able to do this past weekend, I would like to hit 20 this season, and I feel like it’s achievable.”

Smith said he will continue to work on race strategy, building strength, form and speed work.

“I feel like I could get out of the blocks quicker and be more efficient on the curve. Once I get that done, I like my chances against anyone. I just have to continue working on conditioning and speed work and it will all come together,” he said.

Running as a part of the relay team was a rewarding experience to him, Smith said. He added that they really came together in a short period. The quartet of Trent Ford, Andrew Brown, Smith and Ishmael Rolle, in that order, won gold in a time of 41.46 seconds. Jamaica was second on the track, but was later disqualified. Grenada ended up with the silver medal, crossing the finish line in 41.95 seconds, and Trinidad and Tobago won the bronze medal in 42.51 seconds.

“The guys on the 4x100m team, I feel like we knew each other all along. That’s how well we bonded. We had like about three days max to work on exchanges but we made it work,” said Smith. “It feels good. We talked about it – how we were going to pull it off – and we did it. I was with these guys for about three days but if feels like I’ve known them forever. We’ve grown together.”

His teammates also weighed in on the success of the 4x100m relay team on Sunday night.

Lead-off runner Ford said: “I just had to get out and let the other runners come catch me. We had the confidence that we could do it and we came out and did it. It feels great.”

Brown ran the backstretch and kept the team in contention for the gold medal.

“It feels good. I knew once I did my part, the other guys would come together and pull it off,” he said. “Ishmael did what he had to do – bring the gold medal home for us. It’s a good feeling.”

Anchor leg Rolle had the Jamaican athlete right on his heels when he received the baton but the silver medalist from the under-17 boys 100m was determined not to be caught.

“My teammates did what they had to do to get us in first and I wasn’t going to let them down. I had to bring the gold home,” he said. “It feels ecstatic. I could hear and feel the crowd cheering us on and it feels good to come through. The crowd noise certainly gave us the motivation to bring home the gold.”

The Bahamas’ gold medal count got reduced to eight on Tuesday as it was determined that a protest by Jamaica, citing that it was the bronze medalist who false started in the under-20 boys 110m hurdles and not the gold medalist, was upheld, dropping The Bahamas’ Otto Laing back down to silver. Therefore, The Bahamas finished with eight gold, 13 silver and 20 bronze for 41 total medals, trailing Jamaica in second for a fourth straight time. Jamaica won CARIFTA track and field for a 37th straight time, collecting 39 gold medals, 20 silver and 11 bronze for 70 total medals. Trinidad and Tobago was third behind Jamaica and The Bahamas with five gold medals, seven silver and 10 bronze for 22 total medals.


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