The CARIFTA Games are an annual junior athletics competition founded by Barbadian Austin Sealy.
The Games have their origins in the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA). The first competition was held in Barbados in 1972.
The Games consist of most of the track and field disciplines and have two age group categories, namely Under-17s and Under-20s, for both males and females.
The CARIFTA Games are meant to enhance relationships between the countries and to impress upon all the commonality of purpose shared between the Caribbean Islands.
They run under IAAF rules and are traditionally staged during Easter weekend in one of the member states of CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market).
The timing of the Games is such as to so facilitate the school calendar of the young athletes.
Since 1972, they have grown from strength to strength. IAAF President Lamine Diack has described them as being on par with the World Championships.
They are arguably the most important regional junior athletic championships outside of the World Youth or World Junior Championships.
College and university coaches and scouts from the US travel to the Games every year to identify potential athletes for their schools’ athletic programmes.
The CARIFTA Games have produced a plethora of World Record holders and world track and field stars, including Usain Bolt, Kim Collins, Darrel Brown, Pauline Davis-Thompson, Merlene Ottey, Obadele Thompson, Debbie Ferguson, Cydonie Mothersill, Kareen Streete-Thompson, Alleyne Francique, Veronica Campbell, Marie Jose-Perec and Meleanie Walker, to name just a few.
Indeed more than 30 Olympic Games medallists can trace their origins to the CARIFTA Games.
The Jamaicans have been the traditional powerhouses, having topped the medal tables in most years.
Each country may enter up to two athletes per event, and up to six athletes for relay events (two as substitutes), and three athletes in the combined events of pentathlon and heptathlon.
The Games are being held in Bermuda for the fourth time, the previous Games being held here in 1975, 1980 and 2004.