Girls on track to be Olympic stars

Cayman’s track and field juniors are enthusiastically preparing for various meets later this year and none more so than three girls who have a burning ambition to be Olympic champions one day.


Myers followed her sister into shot Photos: Ron Shillingford

Anissa Owen is a long jumper, shot putter and on occasions sprinter. She also does netball and plans to start softball soon. The 16-year-old John Gray pupil admits that sport is almost an obsession. ‘That’s true, I love a lot of sports,’ she said. ‘I’m best known for long jump. My best time is 5.36 metres. It’s up there but not really better than the others. It’s challenging. I look forward to jumping further every time I jump. I want to qualify for Carifta once again. I’d eventually like to go to the Olympics, maybe the London Games in 2012. I’ve actually been to London, when I passed through for the Island Games in Greece last year where I did long jump and the 100m. I didn’t do as well as I usually do because it was older people, very challenging. I was 15, turning 16 and one of the babies.’

Coached by Tyrone Yen, she is very focused about sticking to her training program. ‘Tyrone gives me my workouts to do. I have to warm up properly, stretch, drills and then I get into my work out. Today I have sprints which is 150m sprints or 200m or 300m. On Tuesdays I have hurdle drills, working with the hips, jumps. On Thursdays I have a little sprinting again, speed work and some more jumping and gym on Wednesdays and Fridays.’

Avril Myers, 15, excels at shot put. Another John Gray pupil, her best put is 10.49 metres. She boasts that she is very strong for her age and not even boys can trouble her. ‘I was inspired to take up shot by my older sister, Monique, who used to do it. I love shot put and also netball and sometimes volleyball but I love track best. I used to sprint and maybe will do it again.’

Sprinter Cristen Jones, 12, attends Cayman Prep. She likes the 200m but impressed her coaches with a fast 400m run in West Bay on Saturday. Coached by technical director Kenrick Williams, he hopes she could be the new Cydonie Mothersill. ‘I prefer 200m because it’s not so tiring,’ she said. ‘That 400m was better than my previous one and it didn’t feel too hard. Coach Kenrick is a good coach because if I don’t understand something he explains it to me.’

Williams said: ‘I singled her out for this interview because after coming back from training after two months break she ran 1 minute 11 seconds in the 400m which signifies that’s a good time for a 12-year-old girl. Hopefully, she will make it for the CUT team this year and that’s what she’s working towards. I know she prefers the 100m and 200m but we’re trying to get her a little bit stronger by training her for the 400m so she’ll be quicker for the sprints. I think she has tremendous potential.

‘The other day she explained to me that she did 120 shuttle 20m sprints without stopping. It was amazing her stamina. With that I’m looking at the 200m and 400m combination now and by the time she’s 14 or 15 we’ll decide what to do from there so that she can specialize.’

Yen admires Owen’s devotion. ‘Annisa has been in track and field since Year 3 or 4 and is one of the few athletes who have stuck with it for so long. She’s what we consider to be multi-talented. She jumps, throws and sprints. This is one of our trademarks with the kids. We try not to specialize them too early. Sometimes you don’t know exactly where their talent lies. Annisa and Cristen were champion athletes at Bodden Town Primary. Cristen used to be solely 100m and 200m but recently she’s stepped up to 400m and her time on Saturday was very encouraging.’