British Virgin Islands long jumper Chantel Malone has expressed her overwhelming pride and joy for her compatriot, Kyron McMaster, who secured a historic silver medal in the 400m hurdles at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

McMaster's outstanding performance, which marked the first-ever medal for his country at an outdoor global championship, was met with resounding applause from Malone, who has been closely following his journey and triumphs.

McMaster's remarkable journey to the podium, finishing second with a time of 47.34 seconds, behind Norway's Karsten Warholm, resonated deeply with Malone. She reflected on his arduous path, overcoming adversities and injuries, to achieve this monumental milestone:

“I couldn't be happier for Kyron because we have a really close relationship and I've seen some of the struggles that he's been through in terms of dealing with injury and just different shifts and transitions in this sport," said during an exclusive interview with Sportsmax.TV.

The victory was particularly poignant as it came after the passing of Coach Xavier ‘Dag’ Samuels in 2017, adding to the emotional significance of McMaster's achievement. Samuels, who had been McMaster’s coach ever since his days as a youth athlete, was killed in 2017 after falling from a roof during the passage of Hurricane Irma.

"For him to finally be on that podium after 2017 when Coach Dag Samuels passed, it was just amazing,” Malone remarked.

Malone's unwavering support for McMaster was evident, even during a scheduled acupuncture appointment when the finals took place.

“I was actually at an acupuncture appointment and I had needles in my leg. I was like, you need to take these out, 'cause I might end up hurting myself, you know? I was so excited," she revealed.

Tears welled up in Malone's eyes as she witnessed McMaster's dream becoming a reality, recognizing that his silver medal is just a stepping stone towards greater aspirations. "I had tears in my eyes because it was a dream realized and I know he wanted the goal, but that was only a stepping stone towards, you know, accomplishing that ultimate goal,” she said.

Malone emphasized McMaster's exceptional determination and focus, traits that set him apart as a remarkable athlete.

“He is an athlete that is so determined and focused. You don't really see that in younger athletes. I mean, he's getting up there now, but even when he was in 2017, he has always had that mindset of I'll do whatever I need to do to be the best. And that's something that I really admire about him.”

Beyond the celebrations, Malone sees McMaster's success as an inspiration for the youth in the British Virgin Islands, catalyzing a greater drive for support and investment in local athletes:

“Kids will aspire to become like us, and I think that's something that's definitely needed and appreciated in the BVI."

 She expressed her hope that McMaster's medal will galvanize the government and businesses on the island to provide comprehensive backing for athletes' development.

“I hope that this medal at the World Championships helps even businesses in the BVI to want to get behind and rally behind the athletes on the journey, especially towards Paris 2024."

Drawing from her own experiences, Malone, a finalist at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, shared how McMaster's performance lit a fire within her, rekindling her determination to overcome her injuries and challenges. “The last two years for me have been very shaky. As you know, I've been dealing with injury and so finally coming out of that and finding my foot in again, I'm that his performance just really lit a fire under my butt," she said.

“He's an inspiration to me. Honestly, he's younger than me. But like I said, his drive, his ambition and his mindset are something that I definitely admire. And I hope that other athletes in the BVI and around the world take a page out of his book.”

 

 

Teenage phenom Adaejah Hodge and two-time Commonwealth Games champion Kyron McMaster are among three athletes selected by the British Virgin Islands Athletics Association to compete at the 2023 World Athletics Championships set to get underway in Budapest, Hungary this coming weekend.

Sprinter Rikkoi Brathwaite is the other athlete set to represent the BVI at the championships where an estimated 2100 athletes from across the globe will go for gold and glory.

Hodge, who turned 17 in March, will be making her debut at the championships in the 200m where she will likely face the biggest tests of her fledgling career in the form of reigning world champion Shericka Jackson, world leader Gabby Thomas and St Lucia’s Julien Alfred.

McMaster is a two-time Commonwealth Games champion, who ran an incredibly fast national record of 47.08 to finish fourth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. His season-best time of 47.26 is ranked fourth in the world this year. He will take to the track to face the likes of World and Olympic champion Karsten Warholm, the world record holder, the USA’s Rai Benjamin and Brazil’s Alison dos Santos, the 2022 world champion.

Brathwaite, who set a new national record of 10.09s in early August, gets things started for the BVI in the 100m on August 20, when he takes on reigning champion Fred Kerley, Noah Lyles, Ferdinand Omanyala and Zharnel Hughes in the blue-ribbon sprint.

Both Hodge and McMaster will begin competition on August 23.

Coach Ralston Henry and the physiotherapist Martin Wilson, a UK national with close ties to Team BVIs will accompany the athletes to Budapest.

Chantel Malone, the best long jumper from the British Virgin Islands, will miss the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon because of a long-running knee injury.

Citing the presence of the BVI Olympic Committee and financial support from a shoe sponsor in PUMA, Steve Augustine, President of the British Virgin Island Athletics Association (BVIAA) is not overly concerned about the possibility of athletes from his country switching allegiance to represent the United Kingdom in international competition.

Augustine was speaking recently on the online Talk Sports show with Michael Bascombe in the wake of the success the BVI enjoyed at the recent 49th edition of the Carifta Games held at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

At the Games held from April 16-18, the BVI won four gold medals, two silver and a bronze for one of their best-ever medal hauls. Three of those gold medals were won by the imperious 16-year-old Adaejah Hodge, who was voted the winner of the coveted Austin Sealy Award.

But as is the case with many small island nations, there have been occasions when athletes choose to transfer allegiance to other countries in search of greater stability and support. In the recent past, Olympian Miguel Francis, who was born in Montserrat and resided in Antigua, chose to represent the United Kingdom in international competition.

Augustine said while the issue has surfaced in recent conversations with colleagues, he is not overly concerned.

“It’s something that we have spoken about at a high level, at the association level but we have never had to face that battle,” said Augustine, whose islands boast two of the best athletes in the world – Kyron McMaster and Chantal Malone – in the 400m hurdles and long jump respectively and who still represent the BVI in international competition.

“One of the good things about the BVI is that we have an Olympic Committee existing on the island, the BVI Olympic Committee. There are other territories that are under the umbrella of the United Kingdom that do not and for them, that becomes the obvious option to perhaps leave their home countries and compete for the United Kingdom.

“It’s not something that we have paid much attention to. It is indeed an option of athlete wants to do that, there is a process through World Athletics, you can’t just jump up and compete for the UK tomorrow, there is a process.”

That said, Augustine believes the BVIAA treats its athletes well which in all likelihood makes them want to remain at home.

“We were super happy a few years to be sponsored by PUMA, so our athletes are well geared. They look really nice in their uniforms. Those simple things that probably would have been problematic for us in previous years, are no longer an issue, so the little things that we do do, our athletes are appreciative.

“There is a whole lot more than we can do. Perhaps there is a benefit if they were to compete for the United Kingdom but there is no better place to be a king than at home.”

 

 

 

 

The tremendous success at the 49th Carifta Games in Kingston, Jamaica, is only another step on the pathway for the British Virgin Islands towards putting their athletes on the podium at the pinnacle of the sport.

At the Games that concluded last week, the BVI enjoyed their best-ever medal haul with four gold, two silver and a bronze medal surpassing their medal tallies from 2012 when they won five. Their medal haul saw them finish third in the standings behind Jamaica with 92 medals, 45 of them gold and the Bahamas 17. What was instructive was that BVI had the same number of gold medals, four, as their neighbours from the Bahamas.

Three of those medals were won by the imperious 16-year-old Adaejah Hodge, who the U17 100m, 200m and Long Jump to come away with the coveted Austin Sealy Award as the most outstanding athlete of the three-day meet.

But according to Steve Augustine, President of the BVI Athletics Association (BVIAA), the best is yet to come and is not too far away.

“What’s next for the BVIs, it’s back to the drawing board and putting in the work.  We have a long list of local, regional and international competitions remaining,” he said.  “While we are there, we haven’t officially arrived until we make the Olympic podium, we fell just short of this with two fourth-place finishes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.  This year, we are, of course, eyeing World U20, the Commonwealth Games and World Championships at which I am certain we will again show up.”

Augustine’s confidence stems from his belief in the BVI’s strong grassroots programme that has consistently produced world-class talents from their population of just over 30,000 inhabitants.

“The BVIs formula for success at the Carifta Games speaks of a preparation process that has taken training and mental preparation processes to a higher level, a level that is more in keeping with our competitive Caribbean counterparts,” he reveals.

“Our local club system has resulted in on-island competition whereby our athletes are pushed, much more than before, to perform at higher levels for victories.  We monitor regional performances, we are well-advised by statisticians such as Rey O’Neal, and we are aware of where we need to be performance-wise if we are to be competitive.

“Our coaches are trained and certified, our athletes are hungry and they all aspire to be the next Kyron McMaster, Chantel Malone, Tahesia Harrigan Scott, Eldred Henry and now the next Adaejah Hodge.”

Hodge, he believes, will inspire a new generation of stars given what she has managed to accomplish at the 49th staging of the Games founded in 1972 by Sealy, who was on hand to present the award to her in front of an appreciative crowd.

“Yes, this will certainly happen but I must say our people naturally gravitate to athletics and despite all the struggles we may face as a growing territory, we have never had a numbers problem in athletics,” Augustine said.

“Support from the BVI Olympic Committee, World Athletics, our government, our fan base and with sponsors such as Puma onboard, we have been able to annually attract scores of athletes into our club system.

 “The level of performance that Adaejah exhibited at the Carifta Games is a reality that our people have become accustomed to over the years.  Adaejah has been performing at the top of her age group for years.  She’s remained world ranked as a junior and she has continued to dominate at the US high school level.  Adaejah was originally scheduled to make her Carifta debut at the 2020 Carifta Games and then the 2021 Carifta Games but for obvious reasons, those intentions had to be put aside.  As it relates to our young ones, they are certainly inspired by Adaejah. It’s been this way for years and perhaps more so now.” 

Augustine is confident that in the years to come, what unfolded in Kingston in mid-April will be more the norm than the exception.

“As it relates to other talents, the truth is there is only a handful of athletes on this year’s team that won’t be back next year and as it relates to those in the pipeline, we have a handful of gifted athletes that I know will represent the BVI well and will prove that they are indeed the next Adaejah Hodge, Kyron McMaster, Chantel Malone, Eldred Henry and Tahesia Harrigan-Scott.  

“The storybook on BVI Athletics is far from finished.”

 

 

 

Mexico remained in first place in Group A thanks to an 11-0 win over Anguilla at the Raymond E. Guishard Stadium in The Valley, Anguilla as action resumed in the 2022 Concacaf W Championship Qualifying on Saturday.

Alicia Cervantes (3’, 9’, 56’) had a hat trick, Diana Ordonez (57’, 68’) and Katty Martinez (73’, 89’) each had braces, while Maricarmen Reyes (15’), Sandra Mayor (39’), Casandra Montero Rodriguez (52’) and Jimena Lopez (63’) added their names to the scoresheet for El Tricolor.

Costa Rica got a massive performance from star FW Raquel Rodriguez, who scored a hat trick to power the Ticas to a 4-0 win against Curacao in Group B at the Stadion Rignaal Jean Francisa in Willemstad, Curacao.

Rodriguez scored her goals in the 22’, 28’ and 64’, while Priscila Chinchilla chipped in with a score in the 57’ to give Costa Rica a three-point advantage in the group standings.

Laurie Batista was the hero on the day for Panama with a hat trick to help her side march past Aruba 9-0 in Group D at the F.F.B Football Field in Belmopan, Belize.

Batista scored in the 8’, 19’ and 45’, in addition to a Marta Cox brace (44’, 64’) and goals from Karla Riley (30’), Kenia Rangel (34’), Erika Hernandez (55’) and Gabriela Leonards (68’), keeping the Canaleras atop the group.

Table toppers Haiti flexed their scoring muscles in a 21-0 victory against the British Virgin Islands in Group E at the A.O Shirley Recreation Ground in Road Town, BVI.

Batcheba Louis (33’, 39’, 42’, 58’, 89’) had five goals, Roselord Borgella (4’, 21’, 22’, 45’) recorded four goals, Melchie Dumornay (6’, 11’, 32’), Roseline Eloissaint (63’, 73’, 79’) and Mikerline Saintfelix (84’, 87’, 90’) all notched hat tricks to go along with a Kara Lewis own goal (8’) and scores from Nerilia Mondesir (51’) and Kethna Louis (77’).

Trinidad and Tobago are now atop Group F after posting a 13-0 win versus Turks and Caicos Islands at the TCIFA National Academy in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

Chelcy Ralph (6’, 17’, 82’) tallied a hat trick, Karyn Forbes (33’, 45’), May Matouk (49’, 66’) and Raenah Campbell (72’, 86’) each had braces, while Lauryn Hutchinson, Cecily Stoute, Liana Hinds and Maria-Frances Serrant all joined in on the scoresheet in the win.

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