CARIFTA athletes hailed as Guyanese ambassadors – Minister Norton supports CARIFTA 2021 bid

Minister of Social Cohesion with responsibility for Sport, Dr. George Norton, was full of praise for some forty local athletes who last Thursday were honoured for their brilliant performances in Track and Field, Swimming and Chess at the 2019 edition of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) Games.
The momentous occasion was fitting for the teenage Guyanese athletes, who had worked day and night in preparing themselves for the Games, and had returned to Guyana with 15 medals as the fruits of their labour.
One piece of jargon that was often used at the event was ‘ambassador’, as top officials spoke to the conduct and achievement of the local athletes.
In his lengthy remarks, the Minister spoke to the level and quality of the Games, and noted that the athletes have marked their names in history even if they didn’t medal.
“The CARIFTA Championships (are) the Caribbean’s most prestigious sports meet. To even be named a competitor at these Games is a major accomplishment,” Norton said.
Relaying how he had spent the Easter weekend, Minister Norton explained that he was glued to his phone as he watched the Games live, and was cheering as though he were there in the flesh.
“I have been shouting. I have been cheering. I have been applauding my Guyanese athletes as they participated. And I can tell you that those three days had me really hooked,” he said.
Norton praised the athletes’ performances, taking their high medal count into consideration.
“Guyana’s participation at this year’s CARIFTA Games has been nothing but spectacular. This year, our team most definitely exceeded my expectations by bringing home a total of 15 medals,” he has said.
Dr. Norton went on to specifically address the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) President Aubrey Hutson’s successful bid to host the 2021 CARIFTA Games on these local shores. He said he believes a local crowd would be the driving force behind the increased successes of the Guyanese contingent.
“I am certain that those athletes, especially the distance runners, if they had the backing of a home crowd behind them, there was no Jamaican that could have passed them. I’m looking forward to 2021, when we can really shout for them to hear,” Minister Norton said.
Citing the ongoing construction of two more synthetic tracks, at Linden and Berbice — which are expected to be completed by the end of 2019 — the Minister not only pledged his efforts, but also those of the Government in ensuring that local athletes have facilities that are up to standard with those in other Caribbean countries.
“Having recognised the potential of our athletes, the Government is working assiduously towards providing you with state-of-the-art sports facilities. We want to ensure that your practice here at home is no different from the competition fields in other countries,” Norton promised.
Each athlete at the event was presented with a special NSC Medal for their services. While 2021 is the year for the Track and Field event in Guyana, the CARIFTA Junior Chess Championships will be hosted in Guyana next year (2020). (Jemima Holmes)