RIO de JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A spectacular photo-finish, silver-medal win on Friday by Shaune Fraser has so far been the highlight of Cayman’s involvement in the Pan Am Games this month.
It has warmed the spirits of Cayman’s Rio 2007 delegation, and brought the congratulations of his fellow competitors and spectators alike.
Swimming the 200m freestyle in lane three, Shaune gave his all, and recorded his personal best in this event: 1:49.95.
Indicative of the intense competition, Shaune’s time was less than a second behind American winner Owen Matthew, who swam at 1:48.78. Taking the bronze medal was Canadian Adam Sioui, who was immediately behind, swimming at 1:48.97.
Shortly following, Cayman’s flag was proudly flying on the flagpole, along with those of the other two finalists. Along with their medals, Shaune and the other winning athletes were given the customary Brazilian rainforest bouquets of sunflowers and birds of paradise flowers, wrapped in thatch leaves.
Shaune’s threat in this event must have been realised by the other seven competitors for, earlier in the week, he won first place in both the heats and the semi-finals of the 200m freestyle. In these his prowess in the variety of techniques, along with powerful start and kick-offs at the start of each lap, indicated his talent.
In addition to his brother, Brett – himself a Pan Am swimming competitor – Shaune was supported by the presence of his parents, Laurice and Jim. Cayman officials present include Cayman Islands Olympic Association President Donald McLean, and Vice-President Carson Ebanks.
Although Shaune’s win is certainly a success for the Cayman Islands, the elation is spilling over to regional athletes as well, as this is one of the first medals for the English-speaking Caribbean in the Pan Am Games. The first was won on Monday, by Trinidad and Tobago Taekwondo competitor Dr. Chinedum Osuji.
Cayman’s Pan Am athletes include three swimmers (Shaune, Brett and Heather Roffey), as well as shooters and track and field participants, who will begin competitions on Monday.
The games, which are a significant prelude to the 2008 Olympics (to be held in Beijing, China), continue until the end of July.