The CARIFTA Games are an opportunity for Bermudians to show their love for their country and to let the younger generation shine, according to Olympian Debbie Jones-Hunter.
The first CARIFTA Games in Barbados in 1972 were the starting blocks for this Bermudian sprinter’s emergence on the international stage.
Mrs Jones-Hunter, then known as Debbie Jones, competed in the 100, 200 and 400 metres. Although she did not win, the experience gave her the determination to go for gold.
The next year she won the 100m gold medal in Trinidad and Tobago, shaving 0.6 seconds off a 20-year-old Bermuda record, at 11.9 seconds.
She went on to win the most medals in the history of the Games, to date. From 1973-77 Mrs Jones-Hunter amassed 21 CARIFTA medals.
She also competed in the CAC, Pan Am and Commonwealth Games, and qualified for the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
She was on the Tennessee State University Tigerbelles 4 x 200 m relay team which smashed a World Record. And she still holds the Bermuda records for 100m (11.46 seconds, April 15, 1977), 200m (23.05 secs), 400m (53.3 secs), 4 x 100m relay (45.6 secs) and 4 x 400m relay (3:47:5).
Mrs Jones-Hunter received the Austin Sealey Award in 1977 for Outstanding CARIFTA Athlete. She was also named Bermuda’s Athlete of the Decade (1970-9).
This year she is chief timekeeper at the CARIFTA Games.
“CARIFTA is a very monumental event for Bermuda and I would like the public to come out and support Bermuda wholeheartedly,” she said.
“This is a very positive event which will probably inspire other young people to take part in track and field.
“Our team is very talented and an international event like this can only enhance our athletes and help them to grow.
“I think the country as a whole also needs a resurgence of energy and pride. That’s why I am asking all Bermudians to come to the games.
“It’s a time for us to show we love our country and we love our athletes.
“It’s also an event not to be missed. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) ran his Junior World Record here in Bermuda in 2004, so you never know who’s going to break a record this time.”
• Mrs Jones-Hunter, 53, is the CEO for Bermuda Sport Anti Doping Authority.