Today’s Editorial July 30: Olympic medal only a matter of time

Thirty years ago it was pure fantasy to suggest that an Olympic medal could hang around the neck of a Caymanian athlete.

A decade or so ago, it had become reasonable and respectable to believe in the inevitability of a Caymanian standing on the greatest podium in sports.

With long jumper Kareem Streete-Thompson rising as high as No. 2 in the world, it became clear to all that it really could happen.

Yes, it would always be a long shot for our small country to produce an Olympic medallist but certainly it could not be thought of as impossible.

Track athlete Cydonie Mothersill’s achievements in the 200 metres certified her as another Caymanian with a realistic chance at bagging that historic first Olympic medal for the Cayman Islands. Informed sports fans now know that it is only a matter of time before someone brings home gold from an Olympic Games.

Shaune Fraser’s silver medal in the Pan American Games in Brazil last week was another sign that we are knocking on the door.

The young Caymanian turned in a remarkable performance in the 200-meter freestyle event to make history as the first-ever Pan Am swimming medallist for the Cayman Islands. Now a student athlete at the University of Florida, Fraser is on course to become a serious medal hope in future Olympic Games.

Athletes such as Streete-Thompson, Mothersill and Fraser are not the entire picture, however.

They are the big names but there are many more rising fast behind them.

Cayman’s sports culture is now developed sufficiently to produce more than the occasional star.

For example, track athlete Tyrell Cuffy is scorching his 200 meter event this season and may be just one breakthrough race away from becoming a big-time sprinter.

Fuelled by their own Olympic dreams, swimmers Heather Roffey and Andrew Mackay continue to improve at universities in the USA.

Several pre-teen track and swimming athletes have shown world-class potential in recent years.

Dave Kelsheimer, a former Cayman Islands national swim coach, often said that he wanted to create an atmosphere that made winning inevitable.

One can now make a good case that the hard work of athletes, coaches, clubs, parents, volunteers and the Sports Ministry has done just that.

Cayman now appears to have created such an atmosphere, for an Olympic medal now seems inevitable.

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