High jumper Amelia Othman gave herself an early birthday present last weekend when she qualified for her second Carifta Games.
Othman, who turns 15 on February 2, became Bermuda’s first qualifier along with United States-based sprinter Caitlyn Bobb, who reached the standards in the 200 and 400 metres at the Franklin & Marshall High School Invitational Indoor Meet in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, just days before Christmas. Bobb is the daughter of former Olympic sprinter Dawnette Douglas.
Othman’s qualification means she can now focus on fine-tuning her technique, said her coach Rohaan Simons. The Carifta Games will be held in the Cayman Islands in April.
“I try to get these guys to qualify as early as they can,” Simons said. “I was happy she qualified; it takes the pressure off.
“We always talk about getting it out of the way, because you never know what can happen with the weather and then you end up getting nervous. She can now work on her technique and getting her core strength up, making sure she’s strong and healthy.”
This time last year three athletes qualified for the Carifta Games in Bahamas in a meet against the University of Western Ontario at the National Stadium. Ashley Irby qualified in the 1,500 and was joined by high jumpers Elisha Darrell and Sakari Famous.
Darrell is too old for this year’s competition, while Famous may not be available for her final Carifta Games as her outdoor season at the University of Georgia will have started by then.
Famous won Bermuda’s only medal in the Bahamas when she cleared 1.79 to take the bronze in the under-20 division, her sixth Carifta medal in as many years.
Othman finished tied for fourth in the under-17 division with a jump of 1.60, tying her personal best. She narrowly missed out on bronze, which was won by Bahamian M’Kala White with a leap of 1.65.
Othman achieved the 1.55 standard last weekend and is now looking to jump even higher as she looks to challenge for a place on the podium.
“Amelia is very unique, very similar to Sakari in the growth that Sakari had,” Simons said.
“She’s jumping almost the same height that Sakari was jumping at her age. There’s no rush, but I feel very optimistic that she’s going to hit some very good heights very, very soon.
“She did 1.60 last year and just clipped [the bar] at 1.65 to get pipped for the bronze. She has it in her locker. She hasn’t been under my tutelage that long and training-wise she’s still very young. She’s learning all the time.” The heights these [under-17] girls have been jumping for the past five years, the bronze medal has been around 1.65.”
The BNAA, who are hoping to send a team of about 20 athletes to Cayman.
Bermuda will host the 2020 Carifta Games, providing athletes on the fringe of qualification something to look forward to leading up to next year.
“Our programme for the high jump is in transition because some of the older ones have moved on to college,” Simons said. “It’s always hard when you get into college, especially a competitive college.
“It’s hard to get to these overseas [such as the Carifta Games] meets because the coaches want to keep an eye on them. It’s not like the coaches don’t want them to do it, but it’s something that has to be sorted out. Carifta is usually around Good Friday time, but this time it is not.
“I have my eye on a few youngsters who are very capable for the next two years. I always have something up my sleeve and one of them is going to be a shock to people.
“Next year I really want to put him on the stage. I can’t name him yet!”
The deadline for Carifta Games qualification is March 30, with the team set to be selected the following day.
“I looked at the schedule yesterday and there are about six or seven meets left before the cut off,” Simons said. “They have got ample time.”