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Sara Dowden competes day after father’s death

Sara Dowden, of Grenada, in action during the CARIFTA Swimming Championship at Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex.

Sara Dowden, of Grenada, in action during the CARIFTA Swimming Championship at Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex.

By BRENT STUBBS

Chief Sports Editor

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

IT was an emotional time for Grenadian Sara Dowden as she stepped up on the blocks to compete in the girls’ 15-17 400 metre individual medley race on Sunday at the 2024 CARIFTA Swimming Championships.

It was just one day after her father, Sean Dowden, collapsed and fell on the bleachers erected at the eastern end of the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex to accommodate the overflow of the crowd.

Bahamas team female chaperon Ariel Weech, a registered nurse at Doctors Hospital, was the first responder to Dowden’s aid. He was eventually transported to the Princess Margaret Hospital by ambulance where he died. His daughter, Sara, who was a part of the team from Grenada, with the support of her teammates and competitors from the other 23 participating countries, all rallied around the 17-year-old.

When she stepped out on deck to compete in the final of the girls’ 400m IM, she was warmly greeted by the spectators.

“I felt good. I felt accomplished. I felt like all of the hard work paid off finally,” said Dowden, who noted that she only had to “stay focused and not overthink,” and just continue the race even when she got tired.

During the race, Dowden trailed Cayman Islands’ Sierrah Broadbelt during the combination of a 100m butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.

But as she was coming through the freestyle, she was caught and passed by Bahamian Kyana Higgs.

While Broadbelt touched the wall in five minutes and 15.73 seconds for the gold, Higgs secured the silver in 5:26.21 and Dowden had to settle for the bronze in 5:27.08.

“I felt tired, but accomplished. I felt like I made my family proud and my country proud and that was my goal,” said Dowden, who received an even greater response from the crowd after the race.

As she left the pool, Dowden was consoled by the delegation from Grenada.

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg and Local Organising Committee chairman Harrison Thompson also went over to congratulate her.

Higgs, in claiming her first individual medal for Team Bahamas, had nothing but praise for Dowden.

“Before my race, I had absolutely no idea what had happened,” Higgs said.

“Then while I was on the WiFi, I found out what happened to her.

“She’s really strong to be able to come back and swim so well.”

Despite the ordeal she experienced, Dowden said it was still nice to be in The Bahamas.

“It was one of my best CARIFTAs,” she stated. “The people are very nice and friendly. The hotel had nice accommodations. Again, they are very supportive.”

Comments

ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Condolences to Sara Dowden and her family. This is one of the weird things about life, moments of ~"joy" in the midst of sorrow. Maybe by design. Theres no greater therapy than sports activity.

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