Jaleel Croal runs sub 20 PB in Cali 2021 200m finals. 3×3 basketball team perform valiantly against top teams

Virgin Islands sprinter Jaleel Croal delivered a PB of 20.93 in the 200m finals at the Cali 2021 Junior Panam Games – his first major Games and season opener.

Pitching his speed against faster and older runners in the race, Jaleel did well to pull out all the stops to run sub 21 and place 5th. The new time smashes his previous PB of 21.10 achieved at the end of last  season.

“When I got on the track my main goal was to have fun and run a 21 so after a nice start and execution and finish and a 20.93 – even though I came 5th – I was the happiest man on the track at that moment. There’s more to come and I already marked the guys’ faces!” said Jaleel.

Speaking after the race, Coach Ralston “Grandfather” Henry said, “This is the peak time of season for the sprinters from Ecuador and Brazil and to see him come and run that fast with them is a major accomplishment!”

Jaleel already qualified for the World Athletics U20 Championships with his semi-finals time of 21.24 and he will be back at the same stadium for the event next August 1 – 6.

The medals in the Cali 2021 200m went to Anderson Marquinez (Ecuador, 20.51), Lucas Vilar (Brazil, 20.59) and Lucas Rodrigues Da Silva (Brazil,20.68).

Jaleel and Coach Grandfather return home to the BVI on Saturday, December 4.

The 3×3 basketball team comprising Shakeem Tyson, Michael Richardson, D’/Andre Mitchum and Stephano Paul played their final group game against Venezuela on December 3. The team gave everything they had and put up a much improved performance with contributions from all of them. While they ultimately lost 22-11 they remained very much in touch with their strong opposition until the halfway point when Venezuela showed their class and pulled away. Since that match, Venezuela went on to beat Puerto Rico (in their final group game) and then beat Brazil in the quarter finals. 

“After initially losing out 21-5 to Puerto Rico in their first match to only a day later be pushing Venezuela in a much closer affair shows how far the team has come in such a short amount of time,” said Chef de Mission Adam Murrills. “It also shows a strong mentality in their ability to problem-solve, adapt, work together and improve throughout what has been the BVI’s first International Competition for Basketball since 2010!

“Having spoken with the guys I know that they’re proud (and rightly so!) of how they performed and how they improved throughout the tournament and they’re keen to push on after this and hopefully experience more International Competition in the future!”

President Ephraim Penn who has attended the competitions from the start of the Games was impressed with the level of application and incremental improvement of all athletes and more so with the camaraderie and supportive attitude of the athletes from the different sports ensuring to attend the matches or watch live where physical attendance was not possible.

“The athletes and coaches all arrived as separate teams but as they leave these Games, they depart with a sense of one BVI team which is a very rewarding result in itself,” said President Penn.

“On behalf of the BVIOC, I congratulate Jaleel on setting a new PB coming off the blocks of the final at his first major Games. That he achieved this at the start of the season and racing against more experienced and older sprinters in the middle of their season is all them more exciting for what we can expect to see from him in 2022. Congratulations also to the 3×3 Basketball team who have done a remarkable job of holding their own in new territory. Thank you to the National Federations, their athletes and especially to their coaches, Ralston  “Grandfather” Henry, track and field coach and 2nd Vice President of the BVI Olympic Committee and to Coach West for Basketball for committing to and executing admirable performances at these inaugural Panam Junior Games.”

Thad Lettsome, who is based at Lake Calima with his coach, Chris Watters finished the 2nd day of the regatta with a 7th and 6th place for an overall 6thplace at the start of the final set of races in the one-person ILCA7 laser today, Saturday December 4. 

Coach Watters described the second day of competition as a “tough day”.

“It was cranking windy and we were closer to shore. The guys in 1st and 2nd place are in a race of their own; they have a good 15lbs on Thad. It’ll be a major focus for him moving forward. That and the downwind in heavy breeze flat water,” said Coach Watters. “He’s still not bad shape in the regatta. 6th overall but only 1 point from 5th. Bit of a gap to the medals but there’s some protests for 3/4 going on so we’re not out of it!”

The closing ceremony will take place on Sunday, December 5 after which the  3×3 team and BVI delegation will return home to the VI while Thad will return to Tulane University, New Orleans and Coach Watters to Florida.

Croal advances to semi-finals. Lettsome settles mid fleet on day 1 and 3×3 basketball compete in first two games of the Cali 2021 Junior Panam Games

Congratulations to Jaleel Croal who placed 3rd in his heat of the 200m semi-finals at the Cali 2021 inaugural Junior PanAm Games . His time of 21.24 secured a spot in the finals where he will run in lane 8 at 7:00pm on Friday December 3.

18-years old Jaleel came out of the race feeling positive about his time and performance. “Before the race I was nervous but I said to myself that the hard part is qualifying and the fun part is the finals. Once on the track I felt better and I felt good coming out of the blocks and overall felt the race was good. I am very happy about it and will be ready to give it my 100% in the finals.”

Coach Ralston “Grandfather” Henry also was happy with the race and performance saying, “It was a very good time with which to open the season at this time of the year. He ended the season with 21.10 so coming back with a 21.24 to start the season was very good. I’m looking forward to what we will see in the finals.”

Thad Lettsome closed out his first day of racing the ILCA7 laser with a 5th and 4th place finish out of a fleet of 14 which, according to Coach Chris Watters, is exactly where they planned to be. “Thad did a really good job starting, sailing smart and conservatively. We want to be in the middle of the hunt all the way through the end so we’re hoping for similar conditions tomorrow,” said Coach Watters.

“The first day of the regatta went well,” said Thad. “We’re looking to maintain a consistent score line and then perhaps look at being more aggressive and making a push after the first race as that would mark the half way point of the event.”

Thad will compete in 4 more races with 2 each on Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4.

The BVI 3×3 basketball team competed in their first two matches of their first international Game where they lost out to Puerto Rico 5-21 in a shake up match. The 2nd match against Colombia went better for the team as they held the lead for the first part before finally conceding the game by 6 points for a 9-15 score. The team comprising Michael Richardson, Shakeem Tyson, Stephano Paul, D’Andre Mitchum and Coach Trevor “West” Stevens will face Venezuela at 11:30am BVI time on Friday, December 3.

“Today has been a very positive day for Team BVI at the Junior PanAm Games,” said Chef de Mission Adam Murrills. “The day started with a very tough game for our basketball team against one of the favourites. They really showed a strong mentality in bouncing back in their 2nd match against home country Colombia. They still have a chance of qualifying and so there is everything still to play for. After speaking with the boys they are up for the challenge and are looking forward to getting stuck in!

“Thad had a great day out on the water executing objectives which put him in 4th place ready to mount a challenge for a medal while Jaleel did the business in the 200m semi-final and everyone is looking forward to cheering him on in his final where he’ll be going in with no pressure!”

BVI Olympic President Ephraim Penn has been in Colombia since November 21 where he attended the meetings as a member of the Technical Commission as well as attending the Panam Sports AGM and the Extraordinary General Assembly of Centro Caribe Sports along with Secretary General Lloyd Black.

“So far the Cali 2021 Junior PanAm Games have been very busy both from a technical perspective and from the angle of our athletes, coaches and physio, Levi James” said President Penn. “This is a new experience for all but one of our juniors – that being Thad Lettsome who competed in his first major Games at the Lima 2019 PanAm Games. I am impressed with how the athletes have adapted to the demands and expectations of international competition guided by their coaches. They are excited, yet disciplined and focused and are great ambassadors for the Virgin Islands. As Chef de Mission, Adam Murrills is doing an excellent job of making sure that our athletes are well looked after and that the delegation is kept up to date and informed of all schedules and requirements as may be announced by the organisers. As the BVI Olympic Committee, we couldn’t be prouder of our team and we look forward to the action over the next couple of days.”

The live action can be seen on Panam Sports Channel, CBNTelevision.com and CBN Channel 101. Full scores for competing nations can be found on calivalle2021.com.