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Record-Breaking Caribbean Athletes Shine at the 2023 Carifta Championships!

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

The CARIFTA (Caribbean Free Trade Association) Championships, also known as the CARIFTA Games, is an annual regional multi-sport event that brings together athletes from throughout the Caribbean. The event primarily focuses on track and field (inclusive of jumping and throwing), and swimming. The championships first began in Barbados in 1972 and have grown exponentially since. The most recent participating countries have included:

Anguilla • Antigua & Barbuda • Aruba • The Bahamas • Barbados • Belize • Bermuda • Bonaire • British Virgin Islands • Cayman • Cuba • Curacao • Dominica • Dominican Republic • Grenada • Guadeloupe • Haiti • Jamaica • Martinique • Montserrat • St. Kitts & Nevis • St. Lucia • St. Maarten • St. Vincent & The Grenadines • Suriname • Trinidad & Tobago • Turks & Caicos • U.S. Virgin Islands

The CARIFTA Championships provide an opportunity for young athletes in the Caribbean to showcase their talents, gain valuable experience, and compete against their peers from other nations in a friendly and competitive environment. It is a highly regarded event in the region and has helped to foster the development of many successful athletes over the years. We have seen incredible talent participate at Carifta over the last 50 years, and watched them progress to the world stage. Some such individuals have included Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, Darrel Brown from Trinidad & Tobago, Kim Collins from St. Kitts & Nevis, and Pauline Davis-Thomson from The Bahamas.

Carifta track and field

The 2023 track & field portion of CARIFTA was held in Nassau, Bahamas and saw Jamaica taking home the most amount of medals with a whopping 78, followed by The Bahamas with 46, and then Trinidad & Tobago with 31. The Austin Sealy award for most outstanding performer was given to 400 Metre Hurdalist Roshawn Clarke from Jamaica while Belize’s Demetrie Meyers was recognized for his skill in the U-17 1,500M and 3,000M races by World Athletics President, Sebastian Coe.

Carifta swimming Cayman

In the swimming category of the CARIFTA Championships, talented swimmers from different Caribbean countries compete in various events based on age groups. These events often include freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly, and backstroke races at different distances. At the 2023 swimming event held in Curacao, Cayman’s Jillian Crooks swam the fastest recorded time for a female in the 50M freestyle race with 26.08 seconds. Ellie Shaw made Antigua proud as she blazed a trail in breaststroke with two golds and one silver, winning gold in the 200-meter and 100-meter events, and silver in the 50 meters.

The 2023 event also meant big celebrations for The Bahamas as they made history by becoming the first nation to win five consecutive Carifta swimming championships. The Bahamas has a history of producing talented swimmers who have achieved notable success at the CARIFTA Games and have gone on to compete at the Commonwealth and Olympic level.

Carifta Bahamas

The level of talent and effort put in by our region’s incredible young athletes is why CARIFTA continues to be considered an important gateway to future stars in sport.

A prime example of this is Jack Kirby. Born and raised in Barbados, Jack has now finished up swimming for the University of Southern California, where he received a full scholarship. Although he may not continue the swimming dream much longer, Jack now looks to possibly compete in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games for Barbados. Before any of this though, he competed at the Carifta Games multiple times breaking the15-17 boys 50-metre backstroke record more than once. The now 22 year old reflects on the time he spent competing at Carifta and what a gateway to success it was for him.

Jack Kirby former Carifta champion
"Carifta connected me to the swimming community as a whole and that opened me up to many opportunities that I otherwise would not have had access to." - Jack Kirby

The Carifta Athletic and Swimming Championships continue in 2024 with Grenada hosting the track and field portion and the Bahamas hosting the swim portion. With the Caribbean's future stars on show, it is definitely an event to continue following.

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