Cayman’s prospects for next year’s Olympics in Beijing look capable of pulling off an upset, especially the sprinters.
That’s the view of the president of the Cayman Islands Athletic Association. But he is concerned that the new track at the Truman Bodden Complex – even if it is ready on time by the spring – may be too late for the athletes to fully benefit.
Delroy Murray said: ‘There are two athletes at the forefront right now. Cydonie Mothersill should easily qualify for Beijing and if Tyrell Cuffy improves the way he did last year, certainly he has a chance of making it there, if not the A standard, certainly the B standard.
‘And one can never count out Kareem Streete-Thompson. It’s a matter of if he can recover in time from his recent injury.’
Cuffy, 19, impressed with fast times this summer. Murray is also pleased that another teenage sensation, Kemar Hyman, who turned 18 last week could be running in the relay in Beijing. ‘Let us see how Kemar develops this year. He is still quite young and he is more for the London Olympics in 2012. I think by then we will have a formidable team compared to other years in which we have participated at this level.’
Stephon Johnson is another sprinter likely to go to China, in the 200 metres. He could also qualify in the long jump. ‘Stephon has the potential, it’s just a matter of him realising it. Certainly, he’s a fairly good long jumper and a good sprinter. It’s all a matter of him putting it all together in one season rather in stop and start spurts.’
Another emerging sprinter is Robert Ibeh. Murray expects him to make the trip as he has already run just outside the 200m qualifying time of 20.75 seconds.
‘I think Robert has a bit of work to do to reach the qualifying standard but certainly he has shown promise since his junior years and his years on the college scene. It’s just a matter of getting all of them the facilities to train. Not just here but regionally, getting them to participate in more competitive meets so they realise the standards out there. We certainly suffer from not having our athletes compete at higher meets.’
The government has started work on the new multi-million dollar track which will be IAAF certified which means that racing times and other track and field records will be recognised internationally. It will also allow Cayman to host regional and grand prix meets which means for the first time Mothersill will be seen by her home fans in a major meet.
Murray was hoping to see the track ready this side of Christmas. The government put out a press release in July – which the Compass ran – stating that work had started and should be completed by this month. But now it is not scheduled to be ready until March 2008.
‘Now that is the middle of the season, that really can’t help them. What we need is for someone to pick up the slack in terms of finances and getting them off the island between January and March to let them compete.
‘When the track is ready, getting athletes to compete here won’t be a problem. I’m not so much concerned about athletes from the Caribbean, they can take care of themselves. The Cayman Islands athletes need to go to the proper meets so that they can improve their times and meet the Olympic qualifying standard.’