FORMER national athlete Alvin Daniel commended the TT junior athletes for their effort at the 2022 Carifta Games but said TT must close the gap on regional powerhouse Jamaica.

It was the first Carifta Games since 2019 because of the covid19 pandemic. The 2022 edition was held from Saturday-Monday at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

TT ended the Carifta Games with 23 medals – two gold, 11 silver and ten bronze.

Jamaica topped the table with 97 medals (47 gold, 32 silver, 18 bronze), Bahamas were second with 17 medals (four gold, six silver, seven bronze) and the British Virgin Islands ended third with seven medals (four gold, two silver, one bronze).

TT were fourth on the medal table, but second in terms of the number of medals won. The medal table is based on the number of gold medals earned.

Daniel, a former Olympian, said, “I think overall our athletes did exceptionally well, notwithstanding I think we need to beef up our programme. It is too long we have a gap between us and the Jamaicans. We need to close that gap...we have to get serious.”

Daniel, more known for his 400m success, won the boys Under-20 200m gold at the 1987 Carifta Games held in TT. Daniel represented TT at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

He said the attitude to sport in TT must change.

“Sport now is business and we have to treat it like a business. We have to approach it in a professional manner from small and that is what the Jamaicans have on us.”

Daniel said clubs need to work more collectively as the common goal must be to benefit TT track and field.

The TT Olympian said the expertise of former TT athletes must be utilised.

“The Jamaicans introducing a lot of the past athletes back into the system to help the younger ones. We have a tendency to distance our past athletes and that is where we having a serious breakdown.”

Daniel said Jamaican Olympian Bert Cameron is one example of a former Jamaican athlete who has given back to his country in coaching.

“I watched the games and you have the feeling that they (TT athletes) are right there and you know they could do better, but probably they have not done the type of training that they ought to be doing. I am not taking anything away from some of these coaches, but it is high time we step up our game.”

President of the TT Olympic Committee Brian Lewis was “heartened” that TT and junior track and field athletes across the region were given the opportunity to compete at the 2022 Carifta Games for the first time since 2019.

Lewis said, “It was quite heartening to see a number of activities locally and within the region (over the Easter weekend).”

Lewis, who is also the president of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees, said, “I was very impressed from the Caribbean perspective with the performances across the board, while Jamaica would have dominated as we have grown accustomed to you saw a spread (of strong performances). BVI, the TT camp had some very promising performances…Bahamas…it also augurs well going forward.”

Lewis said athletes who compete in the Under-20 age group at the Carifta Games will be eyeing a place at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

But he said making the transition from junior to senior athlete can have its challenges.

“It was very encouraging, some very noteworthy performances. Over the years we have had excellent performances at the Carifta level, but all have not been able to make that transition.

“The transition from this age group to the senior age group is always not a straight path, but it had a lot of cause for excitement and enthusiasm.”

Lewis said talent scouts from US colleges, agents and top brands would have been excited by the performances they would have witnessed over the weekend.

He stressed the importance of supporting the athletes and keenly anticipates the next Olympic Games.

Source: https://newsday.co.tt