Reach for the stars: The grandstand at the National Sports Centre is already sold out and by Saturday the general seating could go the same way. The Bermuda CARIFTA athletic team were training there yesterday. <em>*Photo by Kageaki Smith</em>
Reach for the stars: The grandstand at the National Sports Centre is already sold out and by Saturday the general seating could go the same way. The Bermuda CARIFTA athletic team were training there yesterday. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

WEDNESDAY, APR. 4: More than 50 Bermudian athletes will this weekend be aiming for a medal as the starting gun for a major pan-Caribbean athletics event is fired.

The 55-strong Bermudian team will compete against almost 500 athletes from 27 countries in the CARIFTA Games, the most prestigious sporting event for young sports people in the region.

Bermuda Track and Field Association president and chairwoman of the local organizing committee Donna Watson said the grandstand at the National Sports Centre was already sold out — with the general seating likely to go the same way by Saturday.

And she added hundreds of spectators had made their way from countries like the Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados for the games.

Ms Watson, herself a former top runner, said: “Bermuda has several athletes who will possibly medal at CARIFTA this year — I won’t name them because I don’t want to put pressure on them, but all I’m saying is we have some potential medallists out there.”

Ms Watson added that hosting the 41st CARIFTA Games — the fourth time Bermuda has run the event — was invaluable, not only in promoting sport, but in highlighting the island internationally.

She said: “I guess for Bermuda to host any international event is a big thing. The last time we hosted it was 2004, so we figured it was time to host it again.”

And Ms Watson added that, like Jamaican superstar runner Usain Bolt, who competed in Bermuda the last time the island hosted the games, the event would showcase great athletes of the future.

Ms Watson said: “CARIFTA breeds great athletes and that was one of the reasons it was started in 1972.

“Many who compete have gone on to be Olympians and I’m sure many of the athletes we will see this year will go on to great things.

“There are several athletes in the Jamaican team and one from Turks & Caicos who will go on to compete in the Olympics and who could do very well.”

Premier Paula Cox said: “Bermuda has maintained its place among some of the most desirable sporting destinations in the world and our National Sports Centre and sporting facilities and clubs continue to host world-class athletes and sports people in cricket, rugby, sailing, soccer and boxing.” The games, sponsored by telecommunications firm LIME, formerly Cable & Wireless, will feature dozens of events, will be run from Good Friday to Easter Monday at the National Sports Centre.