Stamps celebrate Cayman athletes

Imagine being good enough to compete at the Olympics – the entire world celebrates as you compete. Four Cayman Islands athletes – Cydonie Mothersill, Ronald Forbes, Shaune Fraser and Brett Fraser – will enjoy that exact scenario this summer.

And the Cayman Islands Postal Service will honour their achievement by issuing four stamps depicting the events in which Mothersill, Forbes and the Fraser brothers will compete.

The 20¢ stamp shows a swimmer competing in the backstroke, the event for which Brett Fraser qualified. The 25¢ denomination pictures a swimmer performing the backstroke – Shaune’s event. The 50¢ stamp features a female runner barrelling down the track; Cydonie Mothersill is Cayman’s lone female athlete and she has qualified for the 200m race. The final (75¢) stamp in the series shows a hurdler leaping over a hurdle, and Roland Forbes is the Islands’ first hurdler to make it to the Olympics.

Coinciding with the opening of the Beijing Olympics, this stamp issue will also be released on 08 August.

While the first set of Olympic stamps was issued by Greece, for the first modern Games in 1896, it wasn’t until 1976 that Cayman’s Postal Service issued the first stamp to celebrate the Olympics. However, the first stamps that celebrated local Olympians was in 1976. That year, Carson K. Ebanks, Gerald Kirkconnell and Peter Milburn made their debut in sailing. In total CIPS has issued seven sets of stamps celebrating the Olympiad: 1968, 1976, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2004 and this year.

‘Since 1976 these Islands have managed to put together a team for every games except in 1980, when the Governor asked the team not to compete in Moscow during the height of the Cold War,’ explains Cayman Islands Olympic Committee (CIOC) President, Donald McLean.

The CIOC formed in 1973, gaining International Olympic Committee recognition three years later. The founding sports were athletics, boxing, sailing, volleyball and rowing. To date the CIOC has sent 34 Olympians to the games: 12 sailors, 15 cyclists, 4 track and field athletes and 3 swimmers. Two new Olympians will compete this year, Brent and Ronald.

Referring to Cayman’s Olympic representatives, Acting Postmaster General Ann James said, ‘The Cayman Islands Postal Service is proud to celebrate our athletes with these stamps. Athletes who make it to this level are not ordinary. Going to the Olympics represents a major achievement and we in the Cayman Islands are proud to acknowledge that.’

Secretary General of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, Carson K. Ebanks thanked the Postal Service for commemorating the occasion with the stamp issue: ‘Our athletes deserve the backing of the nation and having a set of stamps is certainly fitting to the occasion,’ he said.

The first Olympic Games are said to have been Ancient Greek religious festivals held at Olympia, regarded as holy ground. At that time, it was believed that competitive sports entertained the spirits of the dead.

In contrast, the purpose of the modern Olympics is to foster the ideal of a sound mind in a sound body and to promote friendship among nations. The Olympic motto reflects the dedication of the athletes: Citius, Altius, Fortius is a Latin phrase meaning ‘Swifter, Higher, Stronger.’ In their oath, athletes promise to compete in the true spirit of sportsmanship for the glory of the sport and the honour of their teams. The creed also states that it is not so much about winning as about taking part.