By OECS Sports Contributor Terry Finisterre
Five teams from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) competed at the North, Central America and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-18, Under-20, and Under-23 Championship from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 July at the National Stadium in San José, Costa Rica. 263 athletes, including several soon-to-be Olympians, were in action, with 19 territories represented.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines ended sixth, punching well above their weight with three gold medals, three silver, and a bronze. The six-member team from St. Vincent and the Grenadines was the ninth-largest at the meet, featuring national senior and junior record holders including Shafiqua Maloney, Handal Roban, and Uroy Ryan.
Maloney, the 22-year-old University of Arkansas student-athlete, led the way. She won the U23 women’s 800m in 2:08.13, well short of her national record 2:02.54, but with very little challenge. Originally from Richland Park, Mesopotamia, the Tokyo-bound Maloney was also second in the women’s 400m, taking silver with an impressive run of 52.73 behind Jamaica’s Charokee Young.
Meanwhile, Handal Roban lowered his national junior record by a split-second in winning the U20 men’s 800m. His time of 1:49.75 slightly improves his global standing ahead of international competition coming up next month. The 19-year-old Jamaica College student ran 48.97 to place second in the 400m.
The third gold medal for Team Athletics SVG may have been the most impressive, however. Uroy Ryan is Roban’s teammate in Jamaica, and earlier this season he was third at the Boys Champs in long jump. But in Costa Rica, he cleared 7.40m for a new national junior record and the U18 gold medal. It also placed him third in his age group globally.
In other results for TASVG, University of Oklahoma sophomore Mikeisha Welcome held on to second place in the U23 women’s triple jump with a 13.16m clearance. Kyle Lawrence captured third spot in the U18 men’s 100m.
Halle Hazzard was a double medallist for Grenada. Building on her U23 100m bronze from 2019, she took gold in 11.42 seconds and followed up with a 24.07-second silver in the 200m. Contesting the U20 men’s division, Nazzio John was second in 10.62 seconds in his 100m dash for the Spice Isle.
Antigua and Barbuda also had a solid outing, their three athletes ending with four medals. Joella Lloyd tuned up for Tokyo with an 11.70-second run for U20 women’s 100m bronze, and 23.55 for silver in the deuce. The University of Tennessee redshirt freshman is the third-fastest U20 woman in the world for 2021. Taceo O’Garro produced a clearance of 15.41m for U23 men’s triple jump silver, and Ajani Daley’s run of 10.68 earned him silver in the U18 men’s 100.
With just two athletes, the British Virgin Islands got two medals. Akrisa Eristee took silver in 55.66 seconds in the U20 women’s 400m. Palesa Caesar set a mark of 12.89m for bronze in the U18 women’s shot put, the only medal in the throws for an athlete from the OECS.
Just behind the BVI was St. Kitts and Nevis, who took a sole silver medal back to Basseterre. In the same U23 women’s 100m won by Grenada’s Hazzard, soon-to-be Olympic athlete Amya Clarke took silver in 11.90 seconds. Clarke just completed her sophomore season at the University of Akron.
Aside from the athletes gearing up for Tokyo in a matter of days, several of these athletes will be on show at the World U20 Championships, 17-22 August at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya.