Athletics

Jamaica sending largest contingent ever to 23rd CAC Games

By Dwayne Richards
Observer writer

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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Jamaica will be sending a mammoth contingent of 186 competing athletes to the 23rd staging of the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games which will take place in Barranquilla, Colombia, from July 19 to August 3.

The CAC Games, which are the oldest continuing games in the region, were first held in Mexico in 1926 and Jamaica had the privilege of hosting the games in 1962 at the National Stadium in Kingston.

As the Jamaica Olympic Association continues its thrust aimed at inclusion, the country will participate in three additional sports for the first time, bringing to 16 the total number of sporting disciplines being contested.

The sports that will be contested are athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, diving, fencing, football, hockey, rugby, shooting, squash, swimming, beach volleyball, with additions, karate, water polo and wrestling.

Due to the size of the contingent there will be four team captains, two males and two females. Shooter Shaun Barnes and squash standout Chris Binnie will captain the males, while veterans, swimmer Alia Atkinson and track athlete Sherone Simpson will captain the females.

As usual, athletics will make up the largest part of the contingent with 50 athletes, 23 females and 27 males, and they will also be expected to win the most medals for the country.

Sheckema Cunningham is the lone athlete representing in karate, Lesyan Cousin-Otomura will represent in men's greco-roman 87kg wrestling, while the men's water polo team is made up of 13 players.

Alia Atkinson will not be alone this time in representing in swimming as she will be joined by Keanan Dols, Luke Gunning, Michael Gunning, Laura Lim-Sang, Emily McDonald, and Bryanna Renaurt. Rugby Sevens will field both a men's and women's team.

Yona Knight Wisdom, who has represented Jamaica at the Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games in diving will have company in Pele Julien. Both men will contest the men's 3m springboard and 1m springboard competitions.

Jamaica will also be sending a women's football team to the games and president of Jamaica Football Federation Michael Ricketts expressed confidence that the girls will return with a medal based on the level of preparation that they have received.

President of the Jamaica Olympic Association Christopher Samuda is hoping that the profile of the games will improve and that the CAC Games will assume its rightful status among global games.

“I am looking for another exceptional performance as we build on what we have started to ensure that we have the non-traditional sports on board. What we are also hoping is that the CAC Games will become the Olympiad of the region.

“Too often we have dismissed these games as development meets, but they are not. They are games that have their value and their status. We have some elite athletes who will perform at the games, we have encouraged them to come on board, it is no longer a development meet, as I said, it is the Olympiad of the region!”

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