Today’s Editorial October 22: Our champs in China

The success of four of our athletes at the recent Special Olympics World Games in China deserves more than a passing notice by the Caymanian people.

Swimmers Andrew Smiley and Waide McLaughlin along with track and field athletes Chris Sampson and Kevin Anglin combined their efforts to earn a total of nine medals: six gold, one silver and two bronze.

Not only was the medal tally huge for a team of just four athletes, but the way they did it is no less impressive.

It is important for those who may not be aware of how the Special Olympics program operates to know that these medals were earned in credible competitions.

It is a common misconception that gold medals are handed out to every athlete in the Special Olympics.

This is not the case.

While the Special Olympics does place a strong emphasis on making the experience rewarding for all, only the first person across the finish line leaves with a gold medal.

These are serious competitions that require athletes to prepare and turn in solid performances if they hope to win.

No one should doubt that McLaughlin, Smiley, Anglin and Sampson trained hard and consistently in the month leading up to the World Games.

They and their coaches took the challenge very seriously. That they went there and performed so well against the rest of the world is a tribute to them and to our country.

The Cayman Islands should be proud that it has transformed itself into a society that celebrates, rather than hides, its mentally challenged citizens. By allowing them to pursue goals and flourish as people, we allow our entire country to bloom fully.

Finally, it should be noted that McLaughlin, Smiley, Anglin and Sampson did more than compete well.

They shined as ambassadors for the Cayman Islands.

Team officials commented on their remarkable grace and charisma when encountering people from other countries. Their behaviour has been exemplary, according to some involved with the Cayman Islands Special Olympics.

When our Special Olympics programme took root several years ago, who could have predicted that its athletes would one day be role models for all athletes?

Yet it is true, nonetheless.

If all our national teams were as focused and dignified as this bunch, the Cayman Islands likely would earn more victories and put forward a much better image. Thank you McLaughlin, Smiley, Anglin and Sampson for the example you have set.

The Caymanian Compass also acknowledges the work of the non-athletes who helped to make the trip to China such a success.

They are: Aquatics coach Penny McDowell, athletics coach Lazarus Moraes, Head of Delegation Kim Landry and Assistant. Head of Delegation Susan Whittaker.

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