EXCLUSIVE: Celebrate Caribbean’s most outstanding athletes, players of 2022

From the Commonwealth Games to cricket's Caribbean Premier League, Caribbean celebrate the region's most outstanding athletes and players of 2022 - and who to watch this year.

EXCLUSIVE: Celebrate Caribbean’s most outstanding athletes, players of 2022
EXCLUSIVE: Celebrate Caribbean’s most outstanding athletes, players of 2022

Caribbean: From the Commonwealth Games to cricket’s Caribbean Premier League, Caribbean celebrate the region’s most outstanding athletes and players of 2022 – and who to watch this year.

LAQUAN NAIRN

His smile was as bright as his medal after Nairn leapt into the record books at last summer’s Commonwealth Games, in Birmingham, UK. In only his first year on the professional circuit and just two weeks after disappointment at the World Championships, he became the first Bahamian male long jumper to win Commonwealth gold and only the second ever from any Caribbean country.

After one of the most dramatic finals of the entire games, Nairn thanked his family, coach and God before trying to take in the unique nature of his success. The Nassau-born athlete, who attended C.R.z Walker High School, said: “I can’t believe that I am the first Bahamian male to win a Commonwealth Games long jump gold medal. It’s such a special moment for me and for the Bahamas.”

ERIN BROWN

Some call her the Bionic Woman, but there is nothing unnatural about this para triathlete who used 2022 to continue to transcend her chosen sport. For Brown has again been as much an inspiration for what she does away from displaying her unique athletic prowess.

It was only in 2020 that she became the first Bahamian para triathlete to compete internationally in the Paralympic Games qualifiers. Injury curbed her ambition then but she has her sights set on Paris in 2024-that and writing a book, studying to be a disability rights lawyer and inspiring anyone who has a similar story to hers.

Not that many women have lost a limb to bone cancer in their 20s only to turn their life into one of a competitive athlete, global role model and businesswoman.

SHELLY-ANN FRASER-PRYCE

Quite simply one of the greatest sprinters of all-time. The queen of the fast lane and Kingston, Jamaica turned 36 in December and has been competing at the very top since she became the first Caribbean woman to win 100m gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

She has since become a three-time Olympic Champion and after another impressive year in 2022 now has 10 World Championship gold medals to her name. Dubbed the Pocket Rocket for the way she explodes her 5ft-tall frame out of the blocks, Fraser-Pryce is not done yet.

Despite combining the duties and workload of being an athlete and mother to a five-year-old son, her dream is to continue to defy expectations by competing at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

BRANDON KING

Another thrilling Caribbean Premier League cricket season culminated in Jamaica Tallwawahs defeating Barbados Royals in the final. Their success owed a lot to King, the Kingston- born Jamaican who has featured as a top-order batsman for the West Indies ODI and T20I sides.

King was the leading run-scorer in the CPL and was duly named the Player of the Tournament. His 83 runs from only 50 balls in the final was key to his side’s triumph. His century against the Patriots was remarkable earlier in the season and no one hit more than his 45 fours in the whole competition.

ALBERT PUJOLS

The baseball hitting legend from the Dominican Republic signed a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals and announced that 2022 would be his final season. He was already the oldest player in the major leagues so he had to make it count.

And he did just that when he became only the 10th player in his sport’s history to play 3000 games and scoop numerous hitting records along the way, such as becoming only the second player in MLB history to record over 2200 RBIs.

The pick of the bunch, however, came in September when the 42-year- old swatted his 700th home run to join legendary names Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth with such high numbers.

TENIEL CAMPBELL

This young cyclist has been an inspiration to women and men alike in the way she has broken into the professional road cycling scene. She has overcome prejudice and a lack of role models to cut a rare figure as a Caribbean in her chosen sport – and the first ever from the village of Hardbargin in Trinidad.

Now 25, Campbell made her name in the Caribbean Leagues before becoming a European- based professional and a bona-fide competitor on the World Tour. In 2022 she confirmed her local status by winning the elite women’s national time trial and then the division’s road race title too.

That brilliance helped earn her a new two- year contract with top Australian outfit Team BikeExchange-Jayco. She has targeted the 2024 Olympics as a medal challenge and said: “I am looking forward to the opportunities that have now opened up for next year and to finally be able to stand on the podium at the end of races with both the national team and Team BikeExchange-Jayco.”

SHERICKA JACKSON

This 28-year-old sprinter from Jamaica emerged from 2022 covered in golden glory yet again as she took top spot on the podium after winning the 200m at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA.

Jackson is almost weighed down with medals having now won 13 gongs at World and Olympic finals. The Saint Ann-born star was the fastest woman alive over 200m in 2022 and added an individual World gold medal to her winning relay triumphs in Beijing, London and Doha as well as the last Olympics in Tokyo.

Jackson came to attention by making outstanding progress over 400m before switching to the shorter distances in 2021, under the guidance of renowned coach Stephen Francis. There is still more to come from her.

MIKAILI CHARLEMAGNE

St Lucia’s finest young swimmer continued to set new standards in 2022. In only her first appearance in the 50m freestyle at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games the teenager smashed her country’s national record.

Charlemagne had last set a national record at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and will be hoping to go even better when the world’s best swimmers congregate in Paris for the 2024 Games. Speaking after her Commonwealth success, she told reporters how she had trained in Jamaica and St Lucia to improve herself.

She explained: “I am very grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had, being able to train with some of the best coaches around the Caribbean and the world.”

ANDERSON PETERS

A Grenadian athlete who has an unusual form of the Midas Touch in that all he throws seems to turn to gold. And 2022 was no exception as the javelin thrower successfully defended the gold medal he won in the 2019 Doha World Championships by claiming the top gong again when the world’s best met in Oregon.

The feat was so impressive it was even recognised by Her Majesty the Queen as she awarded him an MBE for services to sport in her Birthday Honours List.

Now he has his sights set on breaking the 98.48m world record set by Jan Zelezny in 1996. “I’m only 24,” he said. “The world record is older than I am but I believe it is possible.”

RASHEED BROADBELL

The Jamaican was dubbed ‘the hottest hurdler in the world’ after a breakthrough season in 2022. He broke the magic 13-second barrier in the 110m hurdles to set a personal best at a Diamond League meeting in Lausanne in September that put the world on alert he was one of the best around.

His crowning moment, however, came in the August sunshine, in Birmingham. That was when the former pupil of Spanish Town’s St Jago High School broke his previous personal to win gold for his country.

There seems to be more to come from Broadbell, and with three former St Jago students already Olympic Gold medallists, he is well on course to be the fourth.