By Lance Whittaker
CASTRIES, St Lucia, Jan 10, (CMC) – Track and field stars Alleyne Francique and Tahesia Harrigan have emerged winners of the first ever Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Joseph “Reds” Perreira Awards.
The inaugural Joseph Perreira Trophy presentations will be made to Grenada’s Francique and Harrigan, of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) for the international successes they achieved in 2006.
These new awards are designed to honour the sub-region’s elite athletes who hardly qualified for previous OECS sports awards because only performances within the Caribbean region were considered.
For the regular OECS Caribbean level awards in 2006, St Lucian distance runner Zephrinus Joseph and Grenadian swimmer Tuesday Watts were picked for the male and female crowns, respectively.
A panel of regional journalists met with the OECS last Thursday to pick the award winners.
Francique’s biggest triumph in 2006 was his repeat 400-metre championship victory at the IAAF World Indoors in Moscow, defeating Botswana’s Cal Molefe and Bahamian Chris Brown for the gold medal.
Francique, who had won the 400 gold at the 2004 World Indoor Championship in Hungary, clocked 45.54 seconds for his victory.
Later in March, Francique also won silver at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, and he took silver at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Colombia in July.
Francique’s results on the prestigious European circuit included several Top-3 finishes including victory at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix in 44.94 seconds.
He also placed second at the Lille European Athletic Association (EAA) and Germany’s Rehlingen meets in June, third at the Monaco Super Grand Prix and second at the Zagreb World Athletics Tour meet in August.
Francique also placed third at the Rieti Grand Prix in a personal season’s best 44.64 seconds, making him the fastest Caribbean runner over the distance during 2006.
Other contenders for the trophy were the Nevisian West Indies batsman Runako Morton and Grenada’s football star Jason Roberts, who had a splendid season for newly promoted Wigan in the English premier league.
Honourable mention was given to a number of outstanding OECS athletes which included cricketers Darren Sammy, Tonito Willett, Sylvester Joseph, and Devon Smith, footballers Ezra Hendrickson, Atiba Harris, Keith Gumbs and Shalrie Joseph.
Harrigan was chosen for the Joseph Perreira Trophy as the best OECS female (international) athlete, after winning the gold medal in the 100 metres at the CAC Games in a near meet-record 11.15 seconds, a first for any female athlete from the BVI.
She also won the 100 metres at the Drake Relays in the USA, defeating Bahamian Olympic 200-metre bronze medallist Debbie Ferguson and reigning World 200-metre champion Allyson Felix, of the USA.
Harrigan scored six wins in Europe including the sprint double at the Resisprint International in Switzerland in August.
Other contenders for the female trophy were St Vincent and the Grenadines’ super basketballer Sophia Young and Kittitian sprinter Virgil Hodge.
Honourable mention was given to a number of outstanding OECS female athletes, including track and field competitors Lavern Spencer, Kineke Alexander and Hazel Ann Regis.
Watts surfaced almost unchallenged as OECS sportswoman of the year (Caribbean) for the third year in a row while Joseph copped his first male prize.
Watts is the only Grenadian making qualifying times for the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil and after winning two gold and two silver medals at the CARIFTA meet, she went on to collect three gold and one silver at the Caribbean Islands Swimming Championship (CISC).
She also captured eight gold medals at the OECS swim meet and set six new national records in 2006. Other contenders were St Lucia’s high jumper Lavern Spencer and swimmer Danni Beaubrun.
Joseph was the dominant force in regional distance running in 2006, capturing a cluster of Half Marathon titles, including the OECS Half Marathon, Tobago and the Run Barbados Half Marathon in which he topped a quality field that included Kenyans, Americans and Canadians.
Joseph, who scored five victories over previously dominant Caribbean road-racer Pamenos during the year, also won the Sandals 10K in St Lucia and other 10K events in Antigua and St Vincent and the Grenadines and he got Top-3 finishes in 15K races in Martinique and Guadeloupe, the UWI Half Marathon and the Barbados 10K.
Other contenders for OECS Male (Caribbean) were Grenadian cricket captain Rawl Lewis and last year’s winner Trevor Levine, from St Kitts and Nevis, who recovered from serious kidney trouble early in the year to log victories in three Caribbean golf tournaments — St Maarten, St Lucia and Antigua.

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