Following a series of outstanding performances from local athletes at the 2019 CARIFTA Games in the Cayman Islands team at the weekend, government is pledging to invest more in sports locally.
“As a government, we really need to invest more into our youths through the various programmes in sports; not just athletics but sports on a whole because we can now see the fruit of our labour,” said Territorial At-Large Representative and Vice-president of the BVI Olympic Committee (BVIOC), Neville Smith.
While agreeing with the legislator, BVIOC President Ephraim Penn said his organisation will be working closely with government and other associations to develop sports locally.
Both Penn and Smith were speaking at the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport during a ceremony to welcome the CARIFTA Games team back to the territory on Wednesday.
Man of the moment
The man of the moment, Jaleel Croal, who created history by striking gold in the Under-17 boys 200-meter race said he was “a little terrified” about running out of lane eight — one of the least favoured lanes in a sprint track event.
“I didn’t let that stop me from executing my race. I wanted to get off the curve first and I think I did that and I ran straight home” said Croal, who also won bronze in the Under-17 boys 100-metre finals.
The double CARIFTA Games medallist added that acknowledgement from Olympic champions such as Shelly-Ann Frasier-Price from Jamaica gave him what he described as an overwhelming feeling.
“It makes me feel awesome. I feel very appreciated and I hope to do more of this in the future” he said.
Croal’s focus is now on the Junior Pan American Games, in which he is confident he will do well.
Hard work behind the scenes
Minister responsible for sports Dr Natalio Wheatley was unable to attend the welcome ceremony due to Cabinet duties. But, in an exclusive interview with BVI News, the minister congratulated the team on their achievement and alluded a large part of their success to the hard work done behind the scenes.
“I want to [also] congratulate and recognize their coaches, the managers and their parents for being very supportive and encouraging. Certainly, we have a great group of persons who are focused on athletics. You know it’s a small territory, of course, but we have a small committed group who are effective and very efficient and I think the success of the athletes are a reflection of that” Minister Wheatley said.
The BVI CARIFTA Games team ended the competition with a historic seven medals comprising one gold, three silvers, and three bronze.
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