Rising star Briana Williams left an indelible mark on the 47th CARIFTA Games as she stormed to a third gold medal to capture the treasured Austin Sealy Award for the Most Outstanding Athlete, headlining Jamaica’s dominance on the final day of the region’s premier junior track and field meet Monday.
The United States-based sprinter added the girls Under-17 200 metres title to her collection as the Jamaicans swept all four finals at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
Additionally, Jamaica made a clean sweep of the sprint hurdles – resetting three records in the process – while also capturing three of the four 4×400 metres relays which brought the curtain down on the Easter weekend showpiece.
They would have also won all four relays had the girls Under-20s not dropped the baton on the final exchange, and suffered disqualification under the rule regarding recovery of the stick.
That disappointment was one of the few blemishes for Jamaica, however, as they captured 17 gold medals on another day of rich success for the powerhouses.
The 16-year-old Williams, already with gold and records in both the 100m and the sprint relay on Saturday and Sunday respectively, emerged as the darling of the games as she also dismissed her field in the half-lap, winning in a time of 23.11 seconds.
She burst from the blocks, came off the turn in front and never relinquished her lead, leaving Trinidadian Shaniqua Bascombe second in 23.75 and Bahamian Jaida Knowles third in 23.85.
“This was the hardest one. I had a lot of pressure on me coming in but I tried to relax and that’s what I did,” Williams said.
“This has been one of the best CARIFTAs for me, especially winning three gold and breaking two records. I feel great because I know I’ve been working hard for this and I achieved what I was working hard for.”
In the boys equivalent, Rajay Morris snatched gold in 21.25 seconds, dragging teammate Andre Bent across the line with him in second in a time of 21.42.
Ockera Myrie then brushed aside her field to win the girls Under-20s final in 23.34, with French Guiana Gemima Joseph second in 23.70.
And Christopher Taylor secured the first of two gold on the day when he dismissed a threat from hometown favourite Joel Johnson to win the boys Under-20 final in 20.38.
“I am thankful because I was having some discomfort so I just came out to win and that’s what I did,” said Taylor.
“I wasn’t expecting a fast time because I just came out to go through the race comfortably and that’s what I did.”
The Jamaicans had earlier stamped their authority on the day’s proceedings by dominating the sprint hurdles in record-setting style.
Crystal Morrison set the tone, clocking 13.11 seconds in the girls Under-17 event, to smash Olympian Melaine Walker’s 19-year-old record of 13.51 seconds.
She led a Jamaica one-two with Ackera Nugent finishing second in 13.35.
Vashaun Vascianna extended his team’s superiority in the Under-17s, capturing the boys equivalent in a record run of 13.60, pulling counterpart Jahvel Granville with him in 13.77.
The previous mark of 13.75 was established by Guadeloupe’s Wilhem Belocian in Montego Bay seven years ago.
“I am really pleased with the time knowing I went under that time during the season at the boys and girls [championship] but it was a pretty good race,” Vascianna said.
Amoi Brown, meanwhile, claimed the third record when she sped to a time of 13.15 in the girls Under-20, eclipsing Samantha Elliott’s eight-year-old mark of 13.42.
Once again, Jamaica locked down the first two places as Dazray Freeman followed Brown across the line in 13.39.
“I’ve been battling some injuries from a long period of time but I came out and did my best and I’m happy that I got it (record),” Brown noted.
Orlando Bennett was the only one not to establish a new record but he did enough to successfully defend his boys Under-20 crown when he won in a time of 13.35.
He was pushed throughout by Guadeloupe’s Jeanice Laviolette who finished second in 13.52. They cleared the final hurdle level but a late thrust handed Bennett the win.
“I’m happy knowing that I came out here and did my best and was able to defend my title so that for me is a lot of joy,” Bennett said.
“I was conscious of [Laviolette] but the aim was to just keep my composure and finish strong.”
Jamaica took no prisoners in the distance relays and it took an error to deny them a clean sweep. The girls Under-17 team of Onieka Macanuff, Garriel White, Calisha Taylor and Daniella Deer had already triumphed in 3:38.39 while Zidane Brown, Devonte Archer, Rahiem Scott and Malachi Johnson had taken the corresponding boys title in 3:14.99.
Janielle Josephs and Charokee Young then established a massive lead on the first two legs of the girls Under-20, an advantage successfully extended by Sanique Walker.
But Walker and anchor Shiann Salmon fumbled the baton under no pressure on the final hand-over and while Salmon regained her composure to win by a handsome margin, the recovery of the baton was ruled to be illegal under IAAF rule 170.6c.
St Vincent and the Grenadines were upgraded to gold in 3:48.24, with Guyana second and St Kitts and Nevis third.
Some of Jamaica’s pain was erased when the boys Under-20 team, anchored by the irrepressible Taylor, easily won the final distance relay in 3:06.62.
Jamaica claimed another gold in the boys Under-20 5000m when Keveroy Venson overtook Guadeloupe’s Alexandre Gauthierot in the final stretch to win in 15:24.57.
Barbadian Jonathan Miller disrupted Jamaica’s control of the field events by winning the boys Under-20 triple jump with a leap of 15.62 metres while Trinidadian Talena Murray won the girls javelin in the same age category with a measurement of 45.54m.