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Etienne Wins the Bahamas’ First Gold

March 30, 2016
Etienne B Track Carifta 2016

Etienne on the podium at Carifta 2016

On Sunday, Jyles Etienne won the gold medal at the Carifta Games with a leap of 6’9.5″. Here is a recap of his victory from Sheldon Longley of The Nassau Guardian.

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Halfway through the 45th CARIFTA Games here in St. George’s, Grenada, there was an eerie feeling among the Bahamian fans as to if and when the country would get its first gold medal, bringing back memories of two years ago in Fort­-de-France, Martinique.

Well, the country wouldn’t have to wait much longer as the answer came in an event that has produced regional and global champions for The Bahamas over the years.

It came down to a jump­off between Bahamian Jyles Etienne and Kobe­Jordan Rhooms, of Jamaica, and when it was all said and done, Etienne would be the one left standing.

Both were clear over the bar up until the 2.09 meters (m) – 6’ 10­1/4” – height. They both failed on all three attempts at that height, setting up a jump­off for the gold medal.

Rhooms went first at 2.08m (6’ 10”), but knocked the bar down. Etienne followed and had the same result. At 2.07m (6’ 9 ­1/2”), Rhooms went first again, and just brushed the bar with his hind leg, knocking it down. With another opportunity to win the gold medal within sight, Etienne took full advantage.

The towering 6­-foot-­5 two-­sport star glided over the bar at 2.07m for the gold medal. He said that he really wanted to go after the CARIFTA record of 2.13m (6’ 11­3/4”), which is held by Bahamian Raymond Higgs, but he’s satisfied with his performance, and is glad to win the first gold for The Bahamas at CARIFTA 2016.

“I was looking for that record, but it feels good to win the gold – the first one for the country,” said Etienne. “My personal best is 2.11 (6’ 11”), so I was a bit off, but that’s OK. The goal right now is to qualify for the world juniors and represent my country well at that event.”

The 16th International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Junior Championships is set for July 19­-24, in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Etienne, a senior at Stony Brook High School in Long Island, New York, intends to make those global championships his coming out party. He’s looking to soar over seven feet in the high jump for the first time in his career.

As for the competition at Grenada’s National Athletics Stadium on Easter Sunday, Etienne said that he was a bit worried when his event went to a jump off between himself and the Jamaican competitor, but he had confidence in his ability to snatch the gold.

“I knew that I was the best out there,” said Etienne. “This feels good. Pride runs deep as they say. It feels real good.”

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