Kareem focusing on coaching

Anyone who listens to Kareem Streete-Thompson is sure to be better in track and field.

Proof of that was seen in the 2009 NatWest Island games in Aaland near Finland. Kareem was coach on a Cayman team that won an incredible 10 medals, six of which were gold.

Yet there is a big cloud of doubt hanging over Kareem’s head as to whether he will be a coach on a Cayman track team again.

As he states he is simply wishing for the best.

‘Will I be able to coach for Cayman again? I can only hope so. I’ve reiterated time and time again it’s a goal of mine. All I can do is hope.’

Kareem’s proficiency in the sport speaks for itself. The facts are there to show that Kareem Streete-Thompson was simply one of the best Cayman has ever seen on the track.

Among his career highlights were the setting of local records in long jump – 8.31 metres – and the 100 metres – 10.14 seconds – and having the ninth-longest long jump in the history of outdoor athletics with a leap of 8.63m in Linz, Austria on 4 July, 1994.

Other notable achievements include being ranked No.2 in the world in long jump in 1994 and being a silver medallist in the long jump at the 1999 Pan-Am Games in Winnepeg, Canada.

On top of all that he made the quarter-finals in the 100m at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Nevertheless Kareem’s selection as part of the coaching staff was an interesting one. He has been living in Gainesville, Florida for the last four years and had endured tenuous talks with the government in regards to coaching in Cayman.

Yet when his country called on him Kareem was quick to answer.

‘The government called me up a month before the Games and asked if I wanted to be involved with the team. I jumped at the opportunity.

‘It was my first time being able to go with the Cayman team to the Island Games as a coach.’

To no surprise the team members were quick to take in whatever knowledge Cayman’s first Olympic hero could pass on.

‘The kids were very responsive and I was pleasantly surprised,’ Kareem said. ‘In some cases they hung on my every word. They ate up everything and it made my job easier.

‘I did have reservations beforehand but they were very cooperative. They were prepared to listen. Hopefully I built some goodwill with them which I can use for future events.’

One of the stumbling blocks Kareem has faced in being a coach is his total experience. In some circles he had been viewed as under-qualified.

Over the years Kareem has taken steps to counter that notion. For the last two years he has volunteered with the University of Florida State track program.

His involvement with that team recently reaped dividends. The squad came fourth overall in the NCAA Track and Field Championships this June.

In addition the Department of Sports is giving Streete-Thompson the chance to lead a summer camp this year entitled the ‘Olympians Track and Field camp.’ Basically, kids aged seven to 19 can get pointers from him for free at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex from 8am to 1pm from July 21-24.

Time will tell if those recent efforts reap dividends. In the meantime Kareem is focused on his education and continuing his link with track and field abroad.

‘I’m mid-way through my masters at Florida State. Everything is going smoothly so far and I have two more semesters to go before I graduate next summer. I now volunteer with the Florida State track team.

‘Things are looking very good going forward for the 2010 season. I’m looking forward to building on my experience overseas and transferring that back to Cayman whenever I get the chance.’

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