The History of CARIFTA Games


The CARIFTA Games is the annual sporting event that features many different athletic competitions. Those competitions include track and field, middle distance track competitions, spring races, hurdle races as well as many jumping, throwing and relay events. The CARIFTA Games were founded by the Caribbean Free Trade Association and the first Games were held back in 1972. The rules of the Games say that the competitions are split into two age categories. Those categories are Under 17 and Under 20. The rules of the Games also say that the countries that are associated with the Caribbean Free Trade Association are allowed to compete in these competitions.

The Guiding Thought

The main idea that the founder has for the CARIFTA Games to be is to use this event as an instrument of improving relations between Caribbean countries in which English was primary language, over the years the event has attracted many supporters from the UK business as well, take for example these new bingo sites. This idea came to be after the West Indies Federation ceased to exist. However, the idea that only Caribbean country in which English is dominating should participate was soon abandoned as the French and Dutch Antilles were allowed to participated in the track and field competition for the junior category of this sport event know as The CARIFTA Games.

In 1972, the region of the Caribbean was undergoing certain changes because those countries were transitioning from Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) to the Caribbean Community or as it often called CARICOM. The president of the Amateur Athletic Association of Barbados at that time, Austin Sealy, had the idea of starting a sport event that will in some way mark that transition and he came up with the concept of the CARIFTA Games.

Three Day Event

The games are usually held over the course of three days and during the period of Easter and during that period more than 150 separate competitions are held. As we have already mentioned there are two age categories in which competitions takes place. Those two categories are applied for both boys and girls.

What is important to mention here is the fact that the competition in the Under 20 category follows the rules set forth by the International Association of Athletics Federation or IAAF that deal with the guidelines for the junior athletes competitions. However, other categories are also organized according to the guidelines that are provided by the IAAF. Every country is allowed to enter two athletes per competitions.

However, this rule is not applied for the relay events. In those events, each country is allowed to enter six athletes from which two are serving as a replacement. Besides that, sporting events that combine several competitions such as pentathlon or heptathlon allow each country to enter three athletes each.

Importance of CARIFTA Games for Young Athletes

young athletesAccording to the words of the former president of the International Association of Athletic Federations, Lamine Diack, the CARIFTA Games are considered to be among the most important events for young athletes that are being organized in the world. The CARIFTA Games are actually an event for young athletic from all sporting events to show their talents, skills and what they can do. These games are considered to be one of the best events for the development of young athletes.
Young athletes that might not get the opportunity to perform at some other athletics competitions have the opportunity for their names to be heard and to steal the attention of a huge number of trainers that come every year in hope of finding a new star. These Games have grown so much that even coaches from the United States are coming every year in their search for new talents.

During the initial years while the CARIFTA Games were still in their initial phase, the competitions were held on grass tracks. Besides that, the athletes that participated in those sporting events in this competition were often placed in schools or some other types of temporary and improvised habitual spaces. As the Games were developing the accommodation options increased as well as the surface of track on which the competitions were being held. Today, the CARIFTA Games are one of the best organized sporting events in the world with the top quality of accommodation options in which athletes will stay during these games.

Astonishing List of CARIFTA Games Participants

The list of athletes that participated in these Games throughout the history is more than impressive. Some of the biggest names of the athletics today were at one point contestants at this competition. One such name is the greatest athlete of our time and perhaps one of the best in history, Usain Bolt who participated in this event back in 2003 as just a sixteen year old boy, won in the sprinting competitions that year.

participantsEven then, Usain Bolt indicated that he will be an amazing athlete and there were many who imagined at that time that he might be the greatest of all time. Another World and Olympic Champion that in his early age participated in these Games was Darrel Brown who back in 2003 competed in sprinting events against Usain Bolt.

Other names include Alleyne Francique and Kirani James from Granada, Obadele Thompson from the Bahamas as well as Odane Skeen from Jamaica. The category of girls also includes some of the world’s best athletes. One such name is Veronica Campbell-Brown from Jaimaca who today is one of the biggest sprinters in the entire world. Other names include Kim Collins from St. Kitts-Nevis and Pauline Davis-Thomson from Bahamas. In regards to the sprinting events (100 and 200 meters), Usail Bolt is still holding the record on 200 meters in the category of Under 20 as well as the record on 400 meters in the category of Under 17.

Until 2007, Usain Bolt held the record on 200 meters for the category of Under 17. However, in 2007, Jamaican sprinter, Dexter Lee broke his record and wrote his name in the history of this event and the history of the world’s athletics. Throughout the history of this event, Jamaica proved to be the most successful country with 726 gold, 506 silver and 327 bronze medals. Trinidad & Tobago is in the second place while Bahamas are in the third place.

New Host Countries Emerging

During the early stages of the CARIFTA Games, not a lot of countries had the capabilities to host such massive events and the capability to organize such event. During that time only Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Bermuda, Guadeloupe and Martinique actually had the facilities that are required to organize such a massive sporting event. However, as the time passed by and other countries developed their capabilities, the list of countries that were managed to host the Games and in that regards the country that actually organized this event was getting bigger with every year.

During the 2000s, the games saw the biggest number of new host countries and those countries were Grenada, St. Kitts – Nevis and St. Lucia and all three countries build new facilities that included hotels, arenas, stadiums and clubs,  press centers and many other required facilities. As the Games continued to grow throughout the history, more and more sponsors were willing to sponsor this event and today some of the biggest companies from that part of world are participating in the organization of this event through sponsorship in what they have recognized as a great opportunity for young people to be part of something bigger.