Ms CariFin 2016 Christine Villafana is still beaming with pride at her victory in the CariFin fitness pageant last year.
And the 24-year-old RBL representative is eager to participate again this year.
Christine said she first learned about the CariFin Games through an email at work and decided, along with a group of co-workers, to get involved.
The Games are now a hobby for the group now known as the “High Street Posse”.
Last year Christine participated in a number of running events but she admits that her favourite is the cross country race.
But she took every challenge seriously.
The dedication of Christine and the High Street Posse was evident during the Chancellor Hill challenge when the RBL representatives took all three top places. Christine placed third, while two of her team members took first and second place.
In the cross country race, Christine placed second.
The fitness pageant was her greatest challenge as it required a higher level of commitment than the other events.
Additionally, it was a challenge for her to set aside time in her busy schedule to train and prepare for the Games.
But, all in all, she said her experience was enjoyable and she plans to participate in as many events as possible each year.
Asked to share her most memorable experience, Christine said it was the support and encouragement of another competitor – Deodath Harrikissoon from First Citizen’s Bank.
She remembered walking alongside him and trying to overtake him but couldn’t.
“He turned to me and said ‘come on, you’re doing great! Don’t give up!’”
Christine said that little encouragement went a long way.
She admitted that seeing other competitors and hearing their confident opening remarks made her feel threatened.
But she said she felt satisfied with her output.
“I believed I had a great shot at capturing the title. Hearing my name and financial institution being called was fulfilling,” she said.
It was a fulfilling experience for RBL too as Christine was personally congratulated by RBL managing director Nigel Baptiste.
Summing up her experience, Christine said the CariFin Games is underrated.
“There are so many positive outcomes of the organisation beyond health and fitness,” she said. “Its existence adds to the quality of life holistically. CariFin aids in social development through education and training, it is an avenue to get young people involved and away from crime, it cultivates values like commitment, camaraderie and integrity to name a few.”
Additionally, she said, as workers in financial institutions maintain office jobs which require them to be stationary for hours each day, the CariFin Games is a much needed way to include fitness activities into their lifestyle.
However, she suggested that more funds be raised to be able to reward the CariFin queen accordingly.
“At the end of the day she represents the organisation. Little things like her crown and sash should be well selected and at the same time within good reason.”
As for her training, she plays sports, dances and attends the gym to keep fit.
Her favourite fitness activity is Zumba dancing.
Christine offers this advice to other women participating this year.
“Train hard and don’t come alone. It’s always a better experience when you can enjoy it with friends and family.”