It’s just a few days to go before Ronald Forbes starts the greatest experience of his short life.
On Friday he will proudly carry the Cayman flag around the Olympic stadium in Beijing at the opening ceremony.
Forbes, 23, only qualified in the 110 metres hurdles for these Olympics two months ago.
He had got tantalisingly close many times in the preceding weeks but it must have seemed like time was running out yet he kept a cool head and made the team, along with Cydonie Mothersill and brothers Shaune and Brett Fraser.
It may have been a split second timing that got him to the Olympics, but Forbes has been working towards this dream trip for a decade. Residents of North Side can testify to that.
At a reception to wish him well last Wednesday, all the speakers paid tribute to Forbes’s single-minded ness a kid training to achieve his sporting goals. He had no problem rising at 4.30am to train and thought nothing of training in George Town knowing he would have to hitch a lift home.
The North Side community came out in their droves to see him off.
His plane landed an hour too late to see the 40-vehicle motorcade that hooted and cheered from Frank Sound to Rum Point and back to the Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre. Friends, family and well wishes packed the hall. Local MLA Edna Moyle was there too.
Ronald turned up looking a little bemused at all the attention. He probably hadn’t expected such a fuss.
Mum Karen Forbes hugged her son in delight. ‘I am very proud,’ she said. ‘Delighted. He qualified in early June. We were very confident he would do it. He’s proven himself over and over.
‘It was a Friday night it actually happened and we were all together, his father, his aunt… He told us he was going to run at a specific time and as he ran he called and said: ‘I did it, I did it!’ I don’t know what happened to me after that. I was just in another world.’
Karen always had faith in him from childhood. ‘This was something he always wanted to do from a little kid and once he made up his mind I stuck with him. It kept him out of trouble and I’m so glad that I pursued that.’
Dad Ronnie Forbes said: ‘It was no surprise to me when he qualified. I knew that. He and I are very, very close. It was just a matter of time. I don’t want to steal the spotlight from him. He worked very hard towards it.’
Dad revealed that it was the single-minded streak that led him to be a track star.
‘He didn’t really like team sports that much. He watched it but didn’t play. I tried to encourage Ronald into team sports but he always said he didn’t like that because when he’s giving 110 per cent and the other guys are only giving 20. He wanted to do something on his own. He’s a one-man exodus, ready to do it himself.
‘He was doing 400m hurdles but only been doing 110m hurdles for a couple of years. He hasn’t been in the sport for very long, that’s what’s so surprising. He’s gone so far in such a little time. Great things are ahead for him.’
Ronnie Sr dismisses the view that Ronald is just going out there for the experience and will do well just to get through the first heat.
‘He’s a Forbes, he can pull something out of the bag. Trust me. At the London Olympics in four years’ time, that’s a definite medal. We know that.’
Ronald was overwhelmed with the reception. ‘I heard there was going to be a motorcade and stuff which was nice.
‘I’ve seen faces in here tonight that I probably haven’t seen in 10 years. They might not be the type of people when something happens they’re the first ones to let you know but it still indicates to me that people pay attention. I will always cherish that.’
Hampered by a foot injury, Forbes expects to be in perfect working order by the start of his first race on August 18.
‘I’ve been nursing a sore foot that I picked up at the nationals in June and it’s been coming on real well, back to the point I’ll be coming back to my best within the next few days.
‘I’m just taking it one day at a time and basically trying to keep sharp until the Olympics when that gun goes off and also not to over exert myself. You know, be start about it.’
Although his dad has high expectations, Ronald is realistic.
‘I think I’ll probably make it past the first round. The goal is to go for gold but to make it past the first round is most important – and to better my times. Once I accomplish that I’ll be satisfied.
‘At least I’ll be taking it where nobody has ever taken it before. To come home with a medal I really don’t think I would have words to say to that.
‘Definitely by London I hope to be one of those guys standing on that podium, possibly in first place.’
North Side really showed their love for Ronald Photos: Ron Shillingford
All smiles with mum Karen and dad Ronnie