Sometimes a winner’s medal is worth more than its weight in gold.
This was the case at the recently concluded Island Games in Rhodes, Greece when a Caymanian athlete’s victory only told half the story.
Several years ago, a thin little girl named Cydonie Mothersill outran boys across rocky fields in Grand Cayman. She rode her talent all the way to a sports scholarship in the US and then to a professional career as a sprinter.
Today Mothersill routinely ranks in the top 10 in her specialty, the 200 meters. She has competed in the Olympic Games and the World Championships. Living and training in the US, it might have been easy for her to think less of Cayman, if not forget all about these little islands.
After all, anyone might be swept away while running in front of thousands in glamorous stadiums around the world. But Cydonie Mothersill never forgot.
While she toed the line against the world’s best sprinters and signed autographs for fans, she never lost her connection to the place that made her. She has shown this many times by speaking to local athletes during visits to Cayman. But in Rhodes she made an even bigger statement about her loyalty to home.
For an athlete of Mothersill’s stature to take the time to compete for her country in the Island Games says a lot. She is a professional. She runs for money and she competes for the biggest medals of all. Therefore, the Islands Games, a small-countries competition that barely registers on the radar screen of the sports world, might be considered a waste of time for her. Her calendar is filled with far more significant meets. But she ran in Rhodes, nonetheless.
As expected, Mothersill obliterated the field and set a new Island Games record in the 200 meters. This alone would be enough to admire. It is, of course, nice to see one of our all-time greatest athletes step down from her lofty heights, wear our colours and represent us so well. But there is more.
Our big star did not just show up and win a race in Rhodes. She gave something more than speed to the Cayman Islands team. She gave herself.
Mothersill showed remarkable kindness in offering advice and encouragement to younger, less experienced Caymanian athletes. It was as if she took on the responsibility of an assistant coach. This was no prima donna who came to show off against lightweights. She carried herself as something more than a winner of a race. She transcended her status as a great athlete and showed herself to be a great person, too. Her gold medal may be the tangible reward that gets mentioned in the news, but it was Cydonie Mothersill’s performance off the track that may be remembered even longer.