PHOTOS: Barbados nets silver at triathlon CARIFTA championships
Barbados’ best overall CARIFTA results have been tallied, not from the pool, field or track, but in triathlon.
The third annual CARIFTA Triathlon Championships concluded this week in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, with Barbados dominating the competition to eventually finish in second place.
Of the 10 countries competing, none were able to topple the giant Guadeloupe, who have remained undefeated year-on-year recording their third consecutive win. But Barbados still came home with silver and an improvement on last year’s fourth place performance.
Barbados Triathlon Team at CARIFTA Championships
On the first day of the two-day competition, athletes submitted to ideal course conditions with slightly choppy water. However, on day two, lightning storms negatively affected the event, causing distances to be reduced to accommodate for deteriorating weather conditions.
Coach Oein Josiah expressed unwavering confidence in his team saying: “Team Barbados has been taught to expect the unexpected and they were able to display a solid performance regardless of the conditions.”
In the 11-12 age group, Barbados secured first, second and fourth place, copping 3 out of 5 possible podium spots. This feat made an impression upon Darren Treasure, head of the Barbados Federation of Island Triathletes, who stated,
“What is most fulfilling is hearing from other supporters, coaches and Federation heads the accolades about Barbados’ athletes, organization, development and how we have become a model to follow in the region. It’s these moments that justify all the hard work and sacrifice made to bring triathlon to the forefront in a country that is primarily focused on athletics, cricket and football.”
Multiple podium performances of the event came from Luke McIntyre (1st in the triathlon and 1st in the aquathlon 11-12 age group), Ashley Weekes (2nd in the triathlon, 2nd in the aquathlon 16-19), Heidi Baker (2nd in the triathlon, 1st aquathlon 11-12), Cain Banfield (4th in the triathlon, 5th aquathlon 11-12), Zahra Gaskin (5th in the triathlon, 4th aquathlon 16-19) and Niel Skinner with a single podium (2nd in the aquathlon 16-19).
Luke McIntyre, who competed in the youngest age category, expressed pleasure in his double gold medal success, saying: “This is the first year that I was eligible to compete in CARIFTA. My race was difficult and I had to work hard to perform the way I did. I am happy with my training program and the success that it brought me."
Ashley Weekes, female team captain, noted too that her performances were ‘satisfying’ as she collected two silver medals. She offered congratulations to the entire team, management and supporters, adding: “I also felt honoured to be appointed as the female captain of the team and to be chosen to represent Barbados.”
Heidi Baker, one of the top performing girls on the team added that she was “very pleased” with her performance, beaming: “In my mind I had to decide to win as there was some strong competition, especially from Guadeloupe. After coming 2nd in the triathlon I knew that I could win the aquathlon as I was especially strong in the water and the run."
Overall points standing saw Guadeloupe victorious with 64 points, Barbados second with 51 points and Trinidad and Tobago third with 37 points.
Despite being faced by some communication and organizational challenges during the Championships, Team Manager Nicholas Lashley did a superb job of preparing the team and managing these delays.
The third CARIFTA Triathlon Championships was observed by Marisol Casado, President of the International Triathlon Union (ITU), who offered glowing reviews of how far the Caribbean Triathlon Federations have come in 3 years. She additionally expressed sound interest in offering support as a key regional development event.
Darren Treasure, head of the local Barbados Federation of Island Triathletes, offered thanks to the Barbados Olympic Association and the Arts and Sport Promotion Fund for their assistance.
Next up on the local calendar for these athletes is the Barbados National Triathlon on October 13, an event free to the public.