This was stressed on Tuesday, April 18, as officials from the track and field fraternity assembled at the V.I.P. Lounge at the R. L. Bradshaw International Airport to welcome home the 11 athletes who participated in the 2017 FLOW CARIFTA Games held from April 15 to 17 in Curacao.
Public Relations Officer of the St. Kitts and Nevis Amateur Athletic Association (SKNAAA), Evris Huggins, revealed that the government played an important role in facilitating the national team’s participation in this year’s competition with a donation of $20,000.
Several athletes turned in commendable performances with four of them qualifying for future competitions, including the IAAF World Under 18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, in July 2017, as well as the Commonwealth Youth Games slated for the Bahamas, also in July 2017. However, the accomplishment of Jermaine Francis at the CARIFTA Games was the highlight for the national squad. He won a gold medal in the U20 Boys High Jump, clearing 2.22 meters, which broke the National Junior and Senior Records. He also won gold in the same event at the CARFITA Games 2016.
This year’s result is even more commendable given that the High Jump bed that Francis used to train on at the Kim Collins Athletic Stadium was destroyed by fire in March 2017. SKNAAA President, Glen Jeffers, thanked the government for its support of the national team and also for agreeing to a request from the SKNAAA to assist in purchasing of a replacement bed to allow Francis and his peers to continue their training. More than $40,000 was donated to this cause by the Ministry of Sports.
“We have to give a solid round of applause to the government for coming to the aid of the St. Kitts and Nevis Amateur Athletic Association,” Mr. Jeffers stated.
The welcome home ceremony for the CARIFTA Games delegation was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Sports, Honourable Shawn Richards, who was supported by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Stanley Knight, and Director of Sports, Anthony Wiltshire.
“We continue to provide funding for our athletes because we believe it is an important part of the development of St. Kitts and Nevis,” Minister Richards stated, while addressing the gathering at RLB. “I am certain that the experience that you have had [in Curacao] would be one that has made you better at your individual sporting events. I am also certain that you would have made new friends and that coming out of the experience in Curacao, you are better prepared to represent the federation and to represent yourselves in all future endeavours.”
The deputy prime minister also congratulated the athletes and coaches for their efforts and said that they represented the nation very well as ambassadors.
A press release from the SKNAAA noted that “the St. Kitts National Olympic Committee (SKNOC) and the Federal Government of St. Kitts and Nevis remain the major financial contributors for the SKNAAA. Within the past two years, well over one million dollars was spent on preparation and competition which was made available as a result of their generous contribution.”