It was a proud moment for Cayman’s national swimming and athletic teams last Friday when Hon. Alden McLaughlin, JP, Minister of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports & Culture, presented team members with official certificates of achievement for their performances at the CARIFTA 2007 games in April.
Before the presentation the Honourable Minister said that the government is focused on improving sports, saying, ‘April’s national sports symposium was an effective vehicle for identifying opportunities for the advancement of sport in key areas such as elite athlete development, facilities and funding. The collective views of Cayman’s sporting fraternity will be used to develop a national sports policy which reflects the specific needs of the Cayman Islands and provides the sporting infrastructure required for Cayman to compete successfully in regional and international tournaments.’ The Honourable Minister also congratulated Cayman’s CARIFTA team members saying, ‘Cayman can be proud of its achievements at CARIFTA. Our outstanding performance belies the fact that we are one of the smaller participating nations. The efforts of our athletes are to be applauded.’
Peter MacKay, President of the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association (CIASA), was in attendance during the presentations. Mr. MacKay expressed his pride in the swimming team by saying, ‘It is fantastic that our athletes did so well, but what really impressed me was that every one of our young swimmers achieved a personal best, which to me is as good as winning a medal’. As well as congratulating the swimmers, Mr. MacKay also expressed his gratitude to the team’s sponsors, among them Cayman Airways, the Department of Sports and the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee. He gave special mention to Cable & Wireless, the team’s main sponsor, and remarked, ‘Without our sponsors we would not have been able to go to the games. We are deeply appreciative of their assistance.’
Mr. H. Delroy Murray, President of the Cayman Islands Athletics Association, who was also present said, ‘The Association is grateful to the Minister and the Ministry for their recognition of our athletes’ achievements, as such recognition can only assist in boosting the athletes’ appreciation of the excitement the country feels with regards to their accomplishments. This in turn will create a true sense of national pride in those and future athletes.’
The Cayman Islands Junior Swimming Team was represented by 21 athletes. Personal best times were produced in nearly 90% of the 149 events participated in, up from 79% in 2006. 11 athletes produced personal best times in all of their events, up from 9 athletes in 2006, and 3 swimmers advanced to their first CARIFTA finals (top 8 finish). The team produced a total of 16 medals (15 in 2006), placing them 5th overall in the medal table of all participating countries, up from 6th in 2006. Brett Fraser set a national record in the 50 meter backstroke and a CARIFTA record in the 15-17 age-group 200 meter backstroke. Meg Fisher-Wells also set a CARIFTA record in the 400 meter individual medley. A number of Cayman Islands age-group records were also set.
Three personal bests and three medals were earned by Cayman’s team of 17 track-and-field athletes against fierce competition. Alexandra Terry won silver in discus and Shane Evans won silver in the men’s under-20 shot-put, as well as achieving a best throw of 14.28 meters. Kemar Hyman won silver in the under-20 boys 200 meters, also winning his preliminary heat and improving upon that time further in the final.