For the first time, the Bahamas High School National Track and Field Championships is joining with the CARIFTA Trials to form one combined event, and organizers expect it to be extremely competitive and produce the desired results.
The joint event is set for March 25-27 at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium and will be held under the theme ‘Unity Through Sports – A Golden Jubilee.’ It will be a test event for the 50th CARIFTA Games and the divisions contested will be under-14 girls and boys, under-17 girls and boys and under-20 girls and boys. The under-15 category has been converted to an under-14 category so as to make provisions for the athletes who are turning 14 this year to compete for CARIFTA spots if they so desire.
All qualified athletes are permitted to register for the event, but as it relates to the high school nationals, just the top two finishers from each school will score points for their respective school.
“This is the first time that it has happened, combining both events, and we’re looking at it as an opportunity to have an integrated track and field championships going forward,” said Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAA) President Drumeco Archer. “This is when track and field is at its highest – when you have the athletes from the public and private schools, and athletes from across the length and breadth of The Bahamas, coming together, and when you add that to the CARIFTA Trials, it is an opportunity for us to do something different.
“It’s an opportunity for us to showcase not only athletes from New Providence, but from every island of this country. This is a watershed moment for track and field and a high water mark for the ministry. I wish to congratulate the ministry as well as all of the stakeholders for ensuring that track and field is paramount and inclusive. We believe that this was the best solution to encompass both events. This is an event that will identify some of the best talent that we have in the country and it is a new showcase of what we expect to do at the CARIFTA Games.”
The BAAA is in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Ministry of Education & Technical & Vocational Training in the staging of this three-day event which will mimic the 50th Golden Jubilee CARIFTA Games in terms of structure.
“The high school nationals and CARIFTA Trials will provide student-athletes from throughout The Bahamas an opportunity to showcase their talents in hopes of qualifying for the CARIFTA Games,” said Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg. “I extend an invitation to the general public to support our athletes in what will be an exciting and memorable venture. I encourage all student-athletes to remain focused, optimistic, determined and motivated. I implore you to be the best that you could be on the track and in the field. Let’s celebrate our youth in grand style!”
The combined event is a Penn Relays Qualifier for the under-20 relays and the deadline for registration is Friday March 17. Schools from across the length and breadth of The Bahamas are expected to take part.
“I am always enthused when I get to participate in events that highlight activities of our children, especially when it involved academics, technical skills and sporting events,” said Zane Lightbourne, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education & Technical & Vocational Training. “Sports in our schools and sports in paradise is making a big bounce back, right in time for our golden jubilee celebrations. I share the excitement of the participating athletes, the coaches and the enthusiasts as we anticipate the shattering of old records and the emergence of new superstars and ultimately hearing the Bahamian national anthem played in regional and international sporting arenas.
“The fact that our children participate and give their best must always be celebrated and appreciated. In today’s world, it is crucial that we shape our students to become well-rounded individuals by being academically and athletically inclined. That is essential to the students’ overall development. I am certain that there are many future world and Olympic champions who will compete in this year’s high school nationals and CARIFTA Trials. Congratulations to the participating schools, athletes and coaches. Continue to put your best foot forward as you make your families proud, your coaches proud and this beautiful Bahamas proud.”
The CARIFTA Trials/High School Nationals is the final local qualifier for the 50th Oaktree CARIFTA Games which is set for the Easter holiday weekend, April 8-10, inside the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
“It’s a pleasure to congratulate the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Ministry of Education & Technical & Vocational Training with the support of the BAAA in this collaborative effort to bring the sport of track and field back to prominence and back to where it rightly belongs,” said Mike Sands, the Bahamian president of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC). “Sports has the power to unite and it speaks a language that young people are able to understand. If we take that as our mantra, I believe that we will be very successful in terms of motivating the next generation and inspiring them. Continue the good works and I stand in support of all factions that made this possible.”
Hundreds of young athletes are expected to take part in the combined event from March 25-27 at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. So far, a total of 39 athletes have qualified for CARIFTA, seven of whom have done so in multiple events.