By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
WITH a change in the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ selection process for the Bahamas team to the CARIFTA Games, a group of seven local coaches are making sure that their throwers qualify for the trip to St Kitts and Nevis over the Easter holiday weekend.
Following on the heels of former throwers Racquel Williams, Cymone Hamilton, Khyle Higgs, Ashley Oembler, Juliana Duncanson and Brashe Wood, who all made their presence felt at CARIFTA, the coaches are confident that the current throwers will all make an impact this year.
Among the list are Drexel Maycock, Denzel Pratt, Perry Adderley, Deondre’ Rutherford, Serena Brown, Brendia Ferguson, Laquell Harris and Travis Ferguson. Others to watch for are Tiffany Hanna, Edward Kemp, Joseph Daxon, Tesa-Ann Smith and Dachye Stubbs.
Corry Maycock, one of the coaches in the RC Athletics Club, said coaches like Bradley Cooper, Ronald Cartwright, Patrick Adderley and Dawn Woodside-Johnson have changed around their format in how they approach the strategy of not only creating throwers, but ensuring that they return to the level where the Bahamas was a force to reckon with in the Caribbean.
“Based on our camp, we have seen a lot of progress, as far as the kids improving on their performances from last year,” Maycock said. “When you look at their percentage, a lot of them have improved by more than 25 per cent, which is actually good for this early in the season.
“So we are just trying to push them along steadily and hopefully they can give us 110 per cent increase as far as what they did a year ago.”
While the coaches all agree with the BAAA’s newly implemented standards where only those athletes who attain the qualifying marks will be eligible for the Carifta team this year, Maycock said they are hoping that the standard for the girls’ javelin will be revised as it is beyond the national record and there is no way that any of the current competitors will be able to achieve that mark.
“The other events, we have attained those events because we already have six qualifiers,” Maycock said. “The kids are not afraid to step up, so I think it is a good thing that the BAAA is doing. They know that they can’t come out and be complacent, but rather they have to go out there and work if they want to make the team.”
On Saturday, the coaches will provide an avenue for more of the throwers to qualify for Carifta when they put on their second All-Comers Throwers Meet at the College of the Bahamas, starting at 9am. It will be organised by Cooper and will feature competition in all of the throwing events - discus, shot put, javelin in the under-16, under-18 and open for male and female.
“We want to encourage the high schools to push their throwers to compete,” said Maycock, who indicated that the coaches will be willing to assist both coaches and athletes on the techniques required for the various events. “This is a hands on meet. They will learn as they throw. But we want to see how we can attach them to our various clubs as we move forward.”
Last year, more than 40 athletes participated and this weekend, Maycock said they hope to at least double the numbers.
“It doesn’t make any sense for athletes to be sitting on the bench in basketball and softball,” Maycock said. “If you are not playing, come out and try something that can definitely make you a star. So I encourage all of the high schools, government and private, to enter their athletes in this meet and let’s see what happens.”
Patrick Adderley, who has been working with the throwers for more than 10 years and was instrumental in the formation of the RC Athletics six years ago, said the coaches have certainly revived the throwing programme in the BAAA with more competitors coming out.
“With the throwing coaches putting their heads together, I think we have been able to revive the discipline again and it’s now growing from strength to strength,” he said. “I know from RC Athletics, we expect at least four or five athletes to be a part of this year’s Carifta team and then go on to the international meets.
“We have some senior athletes who are moving on, but we still have a whole cadre of younger athletes in line and we are preparing them to be our throwers for the future.”
Harris, Rutherford and Kemp
As a 12th grader at Queen’s College, Harris said she has seen a tremendous improvement since she joined the RC Athletics four years ago.
“I started in grade seven doing physical education at SC McPherson and I broke the record in the bantam girls for the shot put and Mr Maycock contacted me, recruited me into the club and now I am getting ready to complete high school here at Queen’s College,” said Harris, who celebrated her 17th birthday on Monday. I like it. I’ve improved big time.”
So far, Harris has thrown 39.33 metres or 129-feet in the discus and 13.05m (42-93/4) in shot put, attaining the qualifying standard in both events. She’s hoping that with a little more competition on Saturday, she will be able to surpass those marks.
“I feel good about my performances, but I still think I could have done better, so that is my goal right now,” she said. “I hope and pray to God that I can throw at least 45m in the discus and in the high 13s in the shot put because I want to go off to school and continue to excel.”
Rutherford, a 12th grader at St Augustine’s College, has attained the qualifying standard in both the discus (47.03m or 154-3) and javelin (55.97m or 183-7) in the under-18 boys division. He attributes his involvement in the RC Athletics for the past year to his current success.
“I did a lot of improvement over the past year,” said Rutherford, who didn’t realise that he could throw until he started competing in the event at SAC’s inter-house track meet. “Looking at where I started and where I am right now, I made a lot of progression.”
Last year, Rurtherford made the Carifta team for the first time, but competed injured. So far this year, he’s injury free, so he’s confident that he can make a good showing.
“I have a really good feeling about the season because I’m improved big time,” he said. “I have already qualified for Carifta and I’m looking forward to doing the same thing for World Youth. My targets are five metres ahead of where I am right now and about 67 metres in the javelin.”
Rutherford, 17, said the RC Athletics has welcomed him and he now considers it a family atmosphere where everybody is pulling for each other to succeed.
A two-year member of the RC Athletics, Kemp said he has seen a tremendous improvement on his performances and he’s looking forward to getting much better, if he can continue to follow the simple steps that his coaches have him engaged in. To qualify, Kemp will need to throw 55m (180-5) or better in the javelin, his best event.
“I really like the distance that I’m getting and the progress that I’m making,” said Kemp, a 15-year-old 10th grader at Queen’s College. “I’m close to qualifying in the javelin, but in the shot, I have to bring my standard up much higher. I’m just getting started.”
The throwers have all indicated that they are looking forward to competing on Saturday as they show that they are getting in tune for Carifta.