Cougars Track and Field club made a triumphant return to Barbados last Saturday when it dominated the Barbados Relay Fair which was staged at the National Stadium in St Michael.
The eight-time Juvenile champion and last season's Junior winner of T&T let its Bajan counterparts know that Carnival was in the air, as they brought the festivities all the way to their Caribbean neighbours, “prancing and palancing” over the competition. There was no stopping Cougars who led from the first event to the last, winning the majority of the boys’ and girls categories and the Championship trophy in the process.
Cougars head coach Abeyola Akowe commented on the success of the team saying, “This was a great victory. They performed like true champions. You can feel nothing but pride for the young athletes and this will only spur them on to better as the season progresses. We being the champion local club must carry the national flag with pride and winning an international meet as we did, is worth savouring. I am very happy for the club, the athletes and T&T, we made everyone proud.”
On their fourth appearance in “Bimshire”, Cougars did not disappoint, impressing with their accurate baton passes and the patrons loved it. The youngsters' parents and supporters got into the action from the first event, celebrating by singing Swappi’s 2019 contribution, "The Party Start".
The combination of Shannon Joseph, Chelsy Charles, J’nae Bertete and Naima Julius proved too good for their rivals giving the Cougars club its first win in the Under-11 Girls 1,000 metres sprint medley. However, the U-11 Boys finished second to Sty Cyprian’s Boys School in their version of the race.
In the third event, Rising Stars of Barbados beat the U-13 Girls in their 1,000m sprint medley before the Elite Distance programme did the same to the U-13 boy's team.
The Cougars “Dream Teams”, the U-15 Boys and Girls, as they are called by coach Kelvin Nancoo, showed why their coach had such confidence in them by winning as they pleased.
The combination of Makeda Edwards, Shakira Joseph, Janika "Hulk" Jordan and Kayleigh Forde were unbeatable while the boys' team of Tyrell Springer, Kaiyin Morris, Jordan Noel and Tafari Waldron, also proved to be unstoppable when they ran out an impressive winner of the 1,600 metres sprint medley.
Cougars U-17 Girls impressed in taking the 1,600 metres sprint medley from the Elite Distance. However, the Elite Distance team gained its revenge on Cougars when their girls' team edged the champion in the Girls U-20 1,600m sprint medley.
In the 4x100m relays, Cougars proved too dominant with their accurate baton passes as well, winning both the U-11 boys and girls events. Combermere School then edged Cougars in the U-13 Girls 4x100m event but the U-13 boys put the visitors back on track. The U-15 team had the stands singing the Nadia Batson hit "So Long", as the "Green Machine" continued to impress.
The U-15 boys went under in a photo-finish to Alleyne School, before the Elite Distance grabbed the U-17 Girls' 4 x 100m on the line from Cougars by two-hundredths of a second.
The U-20 girls set the record straight with an impressive victory before the U-20 Boys finished runner-up to the Racers Track Club.
Pandemonium broke out at the National Stadium when Cougar both U-11 team won the 4x200m events. The U-13 girls then finished fourth behind Combermere School before the boys stood up and slammed the Elite Distance in their event.
Cougars’ continued dominating the event with wins in the U-15 events. Both events were won by more than three seconds.
Cougars main rival, the Elite Distance, stopped the U-17 Girls in their track in the 4x400m event before the U-17 boys were disqualified in their event.
Nancoo said that the team had been training for the past four months for the Relay Fair and have all intentions of returning next year to defend its title.
“We had a wonderful preparation that ended with a two-day camp at the Hasely Crawford Stadium and after the training there, I thought we were ready to do ourselves justice,” said Nancoo.
“I must commend the coaches Abeyola Akowe, Rawle Phillips and Ashton Gill for a tremendous job. Special commendations are in order for Caliyah Wallace and Shaniqua Bascombe and Nigel Forde along with Stacy Andrews for ensuring that all was well with the entries and making sure that all our athletes were focussed.
“This was really a team effort but some athletes deserve special commendation like, Savion Adams, J’nae Bertete, Natasha Fox, Karissa Kirton, Kayleigh Forde, Janika Jordan, Leah Bertrand, Andrew Bravo and Jy’ll Roberts were simply superb.
"I must thank the National Lotteries Control Board and First Citizens Bank and my brother Keston for their assistance to our club and ensuring our success."
Cougars scored 113 points to win the girls' team title with Elite Distance second on 80 points. In the boys' team competition, Cougars again ran away registering 103 points to nearest rival Rising Stars 59.