“Games for everyone” is a fitting motto for the 22nd edition of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, with some 5,000 athletes from across the Commonwealth gathering to test their skills against both the elements and opponents across 20 sports and 283 events.
Caribbean athletes have commonly found success here, copping 41 medals at the 2018 Games in Australia. However, all but three of those medals came in track and field, and most of those athletes will only have a four-day window between the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games and the conclusion of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Oregon, United States. Traditionally, when other major athletic events coincide with the Commonwealth Games, many of the superstars of athletics — not just from the Caribbean — opt out.
The silver lining is that the Caribbean will have an opportunity to unearth new stars. Here are some of the region’s best hopes for this summer’s Games — across ages and disciplines — with the talent, promise, form, or experience to excel.
Antigua & Barbuda
Cejhae Greene (athletics)
Greene now has the baton as the lead sprinter for his country. Now entering his prime, the 26-year-old copped bronze medals at both the junior and senior levels at the CAC and Pan American Games. He’ll surely set his sights on precious metal in Birmingham.
Donald Thomas (high jump)
At 37 years young, Thomas is at the backend of his glittering career but wants to end it on a high in Birmingham. The veteran has a stellar career record in the high jump, with gold medals at the 2007 World Championships and 2010 Commonwealth Games on his resume. Despite his age, he’s proving he can still compete, with a season’s best 2.25m jump and an 11th place finish at the recent World Indoor Championships.
Deandra Dottin & Hayley Matthews (cricket)
Cricket makes its return to the Commonwealth Games for the first time since 1998, but it will be the debut for women’s cricket. Given the distinction to represent the West Indies will be the Barbados women’s team, with two of the best and most exciting all-round talents in Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews. Fresh from a semi-final finish at the recent ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand, they will be hoping to go further in Birmingham.
Thea LaFond (triple jump)
The 2018 Commonwealth Games was a breakthrough event for Dominica. The country tasted success for the first time when 28-year-old LaFond’s 12.82m leap earned her bronze in the triple jump.
Yordanys Durañona Garcia (triple jump)
Dominica waited 60 years for its first Commonwealth Games medal, but only needed four more days for its second. Yordanys Durañona Garcia’s triple jump distance of 16.86m earned the Cuba-born athlete a silver medal.
Anderson Peters (javelin)
Still only 24, Anderson Peters is a veteran in the javelin arena. The Grenadian is no longer a wildcard, especially after striking gold at the 2019 World Championships in Doha. Gold escaped him in 2018, so he will be aiming for gold in Birmingham.
Lindon Victor (decathlon)
With four medals over its last two Commonwealth Games, the Spice Isle will be looking to continue its success. And 29-year-old Lindon Victor, who holds the decathlon record for Grenada, will be looking to defend his gold medal from the last Games.
Chelsea Edghill (table tennis)
Edghill created history by becoming the first table tennis player to represent Guyana at the Olympic Games. At the age of 24, she already has loads of experience, having competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as a 17-year-old and representing Guyana at the Youth Olympics and Pan American Games.
Aleka Persaud (swimming)
Persaud has the distinction of being Guyana’s youngest Olympian, after taking her bow at the tender age of 15 in Tokyo. She holds the national record in the 50m freestyle (among many others), and will be taking her first crack at the Commonwealth Games.
Keevin Allicock (boxing)
Guyana has a reputation for producing quality boxers and Allicock seems destined to be another. The 22-year-old featherweight fighter is considered one of the best in the English-speaking Caribbean — if not the very best in his division. There’s no doubt the reigning Commonwealth Youth Games silver medallist will be ready to punch his way to success in Birmingham.
Jhaniele Fowler & Shamera Sterling (netball)
What happens when you pair the best shooter in netball, Jhaniele Fowler, with arguably the most versatile and best defender, Shamera Sterling? You get a formidable Sunshine Girls netball team, and genuine gold medal contenders.
Yona Knight-Wisdom (diving)
The 26-year-old diver has Pan American silver in his collection, and as a veteran of two Olympics and one Commonwealth Games, he’ll be looking to make a big splash…though only proverbially!
Chloe Whylie (weightlifting)
Whylie has an impressive haul of silver and two bronze medals from the 2022 Canadian Invitational, so it seems weightlifting might just be able to shoulder some of the medal-winning burden!
Julien Alfred (athletics)
Alfred is one of the young sprint sensations in the region. At 20, the Texas Longhorns star earned silver in the women’s 100m at the Youth Olympics and struck gold over the same distance at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau. She’s on the cusp of breaking through and could very well do so in Birmingham.
St Vincent & the Grenadines
Shafiqua Maloney (athletics)
Maloney is SVG’s most accomplished and seasoned athlete but is still just 23. The middle-distance runner proved her quality, winning gold and silver in the 800m and 400m events respectively at the NACAC Under-23 Championships. She’ll be knocking on the door at these Games.
Trinidad & Tobago
Nicholas Paul (cycling)
They say speed kills, and Nicholas Paul has more than everyone else as the world’s fastest man. Despite missing time due to injury, the 23-year-old will still be one of the most feared riders at the Games, because he has loads of experience, skill and — importantly — speed.
Nigel Paul (boxing)
Paul lasted only seven seconds on his debut at the Rio Olympics, then failed to make the Tokyo edition after a change to the ranking system. He could have thrown in the towel but kept fighting, rebounding to win bronze at the World Championships in the super heavyweight division last year. Never one to be counted out, Paul will be aiming to write his name among the best in Birmingham.
Dylan Carter (swimming)
Carter closed off his 2021 season as one of the hottest swimmers, setting multiple records and guiding his London Roar team to a third-place finish at the International Swimming League. A two-time Olympian and Commonwealth Games silver medallist, Carter has the form and credentials to make a bigger impression at the Games.