Rising athletic stars from across the region will test their mettle against the best in the world at the Commonwealth Youth Games this August. Sheldon Waithe takes us inside Trinbago 2023
The 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games
When Carnival takes to the streets of Port of Spain on 4 August, it won’t be the legendary festival getting a head start on its 2024 edition, but rather a celebration to signify the opening of the seventh edition of the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG). And just like Carnival, it will be massive both for hosts Trinidad & Tobago and for the Caribbean.
The senior Commonwealths are known as “the friendly games”, a characteristic that has passed on to the youth version — together with the fact that, once on the starting line, friendliness gives way to an all-out battle for medals.
Some great names first announced themselves to the world at the CYG — including Grenadian Olympic gold medallist Kirani James. And many of the more than 1,000 athletes competing across the seven venues this year will represent the future of their given sports.
Trinidad’s world-class facilities like the National Aquatic Centre and National Cycling Velodrome, together with idyllic settings like Tobago’s famous Pigeon Point (where beach volleyball will be held), will come alive with performances that are sure to delight the crowds.
But there is also the important long-term benefit that hosting the CYG offers for the islands: the chance to showcase these state-of-the-art arenas to the world. The CYG forms part of a major sports tourism thrust in the country — a key reason, within the framework of economic diversification, that these facilities were constructed over the past decade. Now — after a year’s delay due to Covid-19 — it’s time for their proper housewarming party.
Partying is something that Trinbagonians do best, and away from the intense competition, visiting teams will enjoy the nation’s beaches, nightlife, liming, and food, while also taking part in Commonwealth workshops designed to share information and sow interest in the many career paths available in sport.
Using the CYG as a hub of activity, sports management, communication, marketing, and a host of other subjects will help form the Commonwealth leaders of tomorrow — across a myriad of roles. This fulfils one the main aims of the CYG: connection and collaboration for a better tomorrow.
Another major step forward for the Trinbago 2023 event will be the inclusion of para-athletes as part of the athletics programme, creating a wonderful platform for the Caribbean region to develop this area of global sport at both junior and senior levels.
Rugby sevens, FAST5 netball, athletics, cycling, swimming, beach volleyball, and triathlon will enthral spectators for one week and create a legacy for years — including T&T’s ability to host major multi-sport events.
Regional fans can look forward to Jamaica’s Tramaine Todd and Alana Reid and The Bahamas’ Jamiah Nabbie in 100-metre and 200-metre sprints; rising star Ashlyn Simmons (Barbados) in the 1500 metres; and Guyana’s javelin thrower Anisha Gibbons.
The Bahamas team will seek precious metal in the pool after dominating regional competition in recent years — as will T&T’s standout swimmer Nikolai Blackman in front of his home crowd.
For the young athletes of the Commonwealth nations, the future is now.
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