Cayman shooters hit the mark

The Cayman Islands Shooting team left for the recently concluded NatWest Island Games in Greece with high hopes, and perhaps a little swagger in their step. Having had a promising session of pre-event training, coupled with the fact that they would be participating in a warm climate, the sky truly did seem the limit.

Things didn’t start well, however, as there were numerous complications with the Clay Shooting venue, both with organization, and the facility. Undaunted, the dynamic duo of Eddie Mclean and Rob Harris secured the team’s first medal, winning silver in the Olympic Skeet Team event. There were three teams fighting for two places going into the last round of competition. Rob Harris edged the competitor from the Faroe Islands, to hand teammate Eddie Mclean a slim 1 clay lead for the Bronze. Once hearing the news, ‘Fast Eddie’ went out with a renewed sense of urgency and pushed the Cayman Team past the team from Aland for the Silver.

‘I only shot well enough to give us the Bronze, but Eddie just crushed those last 25 targets and really did the extra push for the silver,’ said Harris. For Eddie and Rob, this medal held special meaning. The two have been paired as teammates since 2002, and have had a few near misses,and this was the first time that both have been on the podium as a team.

‘It’s been a long time coming, and it felt amazing to have that medal swing from our necks,’ Eddie said after the Medal ceremony. Next up was the individual event in Olympic Skeet, and fresh off of their team success, and the fact that there has been a Caymanian Shooter in the finals in every Island games since 2001 (Eddie in 2001, and Rob in 2003 & 2005), expectations were high.

Things once again started off rough, with Rob getting off to a good start, but there was an equipment malfunction that delayed the action for 22 minutes. After the interruption, and an official protest being filed, Rob found himself in 28th place. But all was not lost, and with 100 more qualification targets still to be shot, there would be a chance to redeem himself. Eddie on the other hand, picked up straight from where he left off, and keeping up to his moniker of ‘fast Eddie’, he jumped out of the gates and cruised to a comfortable lead in Silver position, and trailing the gold by a handful of targets. Rob had his work cut out for him, as he gradually clawed back into the thick of things, and by the end of the first day of the competition, he was back up to 4th place, and only 1 target away from the Bronze.

Day 2 saw a reversal of fortunes, as Rob started off with a near perfect round of 24 hits out of 25 targets which catapulted the shooter into a tie with teammate Eddie for the Silver. When the top 6 competitors were complete with their qualification scores, two of them were from Cayman, a first in the islands brief shooting history. With the Gold Medal position seated comfortably with a six-target lead, and the next 4 competitors tied with the exact same score, the finals had the makings of a staring contest, just waiting to see who would blink first. Buoyed by the fact that he had to claw and fight his way back into the finals, Rob finished in 3rd, winning the bronze and completing an amazing comeback. Eddie finished right behind him in 4th, and was the first to congratulate his teammate when he stepped off the final station.

‘My first medal in 2003 was sheer elation, the silver medal with Eddie was a seal in camaraderie, and this bronze reminded me that it isn’t over till it’s over!’ said Rob Harris after the final. Team Cayman had a share of heartbreak also, as Pistol Shooter Andrew McBean finished 4th twice, just narrowly missing becoming another double medalist shooter. Andrew had the daunting task of participating with a borrowed firearm, as there were too many hurdles to overcome in order to travel with his own. Many comments were passed from fellow competitors that it was absolutely amazing what he did with a borrowed firearm, and that things would be extremely different in 2009 in Aland. Sounds like the word is out and they are already looking over their shoulders. Newcomer Josefina Mclean (sister of Fast Eddie) made an impact in her international debut, competing well against more seasoned veterans.

‘This was a real eye opener for me, and I have been encouraged by my teammates’ success, so I will definitely give the next Island Games my all, and hope to also add to our medal count,’ said an exhausted Josefina following five days of non-stop competing. Christopher Jackson faired well in the Olympic Trap event, considering the conditions and the difficulties endured with competing over a 14 hour period daily for 5 days. Team Manager Kevin Schirn said: ‘I’m happy with the results & medals, but I am still expecting much higher scores.’

Next up for the Cayman Islands Shooting team, is the Pan American Games in Rio de Janerio on July 13th, which will see Thomas Ebanks and Christopher Jackson competing in Olympic Trap, followed by Eddie Mclean and Rob Harris competing in Olympic Skeet. All four competitors have their sights set on success.

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