Cayman Islands look certain to have a variety of sports at the next Olympics because it’s not just swimmers and athletes that are world class. Shooting is very strong too.
One hopeful Olympian for Beijing in August is Eddie McLean who has gradually becoming a top performer since starting to shoot for fun 14 years ago. ‘In early 1993 when I began shooting the thought of competing at the Olympics was not my aim; I simply enjoyed the sport of skeet (shotgun) shooting as it was barrels of fun!’ he quips. ‘Over the years I have become affectionately known to other shooters as ‘Fast Eddie’ because of my natural shooting abilities.’
By 1999 McLean got his first taste of international competition at the Island Games in Gotland, Sweden. ‘It was a fun event and it ignited a passion to take my training seriously so that I would be able to represent Cayman in future events. I couldn’t wait until the next Island Games, which were held in the Isle of Man, England two years later.’
His next taste of a big event was the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England. ‘The preparation leading up to this event and the event itself was a real eye opener for me as I got to see the level of shooting expected at an international shooting competition. To see the professional shooters competing really gave me the incentive to become the best that I could be and take the sport further than it had been taken here on the island.’
Well he’s done that and is hoping for a wild card entry to Beijing. Training four times a week, he will step that up if the nod for China comes. McLean, 38, is an office manager for Hydes and Sons. He also loves racing cars – legally, of course. Born in George Town, he lives in Spotts.
Besides the Commonwealth Games and Island Games, which was a good starting point for first time shooters, with his teammates he’s been to the Pan-American Games and other international shotgun events including the world championships.
At this year’s Island Games in Rhodes, Greece, he won a silver medal in the men’s Olympic skeet team, along with Robert Harris. Three months ago, McLean trained for four days with professional coach, Diego Duarte who was the 2003 International Skeet World Cup Champion. ‘I now know in which areas I need improvement to get the consistency needed to compete at international level.’
He is grateful for the help he’s received from the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee. ‘I would like to thank them for all their support in the development of shooting in these international events as without their help we would not have been able to advance as far as we have. The Olympic Committee has generously assisted the shooting team with funding for training, travel expenses and equipment including the shotgun I compete with.
‘As president of the Cayman Islands Sport Shooting Association I have a few concerns for its future here. Firstly, one of the drawbacks with shooting is that it has been the highest taxed sport in the Cayman Islands with import duties up to 100 per cent. This fact then prevents some able shooters from taking the sport seriously because of the high costs involved for equipment and training. I hope that someday soon that will change.
‘Another concern is that CISSA also needs a permanent home and if we can get that burden off our shoulders then we would be able to focus more on developing the sport internationally.
‘From my perspective I do not think it will be too long before we will host our first Island Games and we are working along with the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee to make that dream a reality.’