Top 5 Caribbean Athletes in 2017
Top 5 Caribbean Athletes in 2017
Who were the best Caribbean athletes in 2017? PanamericanWorld proposes an approach to five stars that had a great year, with wins in important world-class events. This is the first time in a decade that Jamaican Usain Bolt is not included on the list, since he retired from athletic activities; however, the “Lighting” deserves a space in any ranking because, although he could not climb to the top of the podium in the London World Championship, he is an iconic figure and, probably, the highest world sports benchmark in the Caribbean.
Flora Duffy (Bermuda, Triathlon)
This is one of the best athletes on the face of earth. Duffy has participated in three editions of the Olympic Games in a row (2008-2016) and, in 2015, she got the silver medal in Toronto Pan American Games. In 2017, Duffy held her title as the Champion of the ITU World Triathlon Series. Her first win took place in Japan, during the third stage of this Series. A month later, in June, she prevailed over her rivals in the next phase, held in the United Kingdom, followed by Germany (where she crossed the finish line 31 seconds before the runner up), Canada, Sweden and the Netherlands. Moreover, she was the big winner of the XTERRA World Triathlon Championship.
Trinidad & Tobago’s 4x400 m Relay
Many people were expecting sprinter Usain Bolt to be the great Caribbean figure in the world Athletics Championship; however, Trinidad & Tobago’s 4 x 400 meter relay took center stage. Trinitarians Jarrin Solomon, Jereem Richards, Machel Cedenio, Lalonde Gordon and Renny Quow (who ran in the semifinal heat) amazed everybody with the spectacular final race, since they clocked 2:58.12, a national record. With this mark, they left favorite U.S. team behind. The image of Gordon, coming from behind and surpassing the northern runner, will forever recorded in the minds of that country. This was Trinidad & Tobago’s first world title in IAAF championships.
Julio Cesar la Cruz (Cuba, Boxing)
Once again, the best Cuban boxer of the moment showed his excellent skills on the ring, by winning his fourth AIBA world title. In the event hosted by Hamburg, the evasive 81 kg fighter, known as “The Shadow” for his singular boxing style, defeated all his rivals (5 - 0). Moreover, Mr. la Cruz won the Pan American championship and was a member of Cuba’s Tamers team, which finished second in the seventh World Boxing Series.
Carlos Correa (Puerto Rico, Baseball)
In 2015, Correa was chosen Rookie of the Year in the American League. Two seasons later, the Puerto Rican player showed that he can be labeled as one of the MLB stars. His performance was a key element when the Houston Astros won the West of the so-called “Young Circuit”: his average was .310, with 24 HRs and 84 RBIs. In the playoff, his bat was very active and totaled five homeruns, two in the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Correa also was a member of Puerto Rico’s team in the fourth World Classic. The #TeamRubio was defeated by the United States in the final, but stood out because of its joyful style. Correa’s average was .333, with 3 HRs and 9 RBIs.
Omar McLeod (Jamaica, Athletics)
The Jamaican athlete played the leading role in 2017 and buttressed his position as the best man of the world in 110 meters hurdles. In Rio Olympic Games, McLeod had a surprising win, but a year later, in London World Championship, he was expected to be the first one to cross the finish line. At the British capital, the Jamaican athlete met all predictions and won with 13.04 seconds, right in front of Russian Sergey Shubenkov. In 2017, McLeod clocked 12.90 seconds, the fifth best mark of all time.
Other Outstanding Caribbean Athletes in 2017
The list of great Caribbean performances in 2017 is also made up of two Cuban ballplayers that stood in Japan and the United States. Slugger Alfredo Despaigne won the title with the Fukuoka Hawks and his numbers were excellent, since he was the homerun leader (35) and totaled 103 RBIs in the Pacific League.
In MLB, Yuliesky Gurriel was a star with the Houston Astros. The Cuban player caught all eyes because of his offensive power and curious hairstyle, similar to a pineapple. His average was .299 and shot 43 doubles, which represented a record for the franchise. In the World Series, Gurriel survived the polemics triggered by a gesture perceived as racist and he delivered important hits that contributed to the final triumph of the Astros.
We couldn’t finish the list of great moments lived by Caribbean athletes this year without mentioning Usain Bolt. The best sprinter in history and, undoubtedly, the most popular athlete in the 21st century had announced that the London World Championship would mark his retirement from the tracks. People wanted the charismatic sprinter to say good bye with great wins, but he couldn’t do it. In the final of 100 meter dash, Bolt finished third and was revered by the winner, U.S. Justin Gatlin. The worst came later, when the Jamaican athlete couldn’t finish the 4x100 meter relay, since he had an injury and fell. It wasn’t the so-dreamed farewell, but nothing can taint the legend of the “Lighting”.