Cayman’s long-serving Olympian Kareem Streete-Thompson has this week been giving back to the next generation of champs.
On Tuesday Kareem started free classes at the Truman Bodden track alongside three coaches from Florida State University where he is studying. They are Jackie Richards, Harlis Meaders and Dave Plettl.
The classes wrap up today and from all accounts have been very successful. The kids also got tuition from some of Cayman’s best young athletes, including Olympic hurdler Ronald Forbes, the Morgan twins, Carlos and Carl and Michael Letterlough.
‘This is one of the first opportunity I’ve been given to reach out to the kids and create more awareness of track and field and other sports,’ said Streete-Thompson.
‘I figured what better way to do it than my first of will be an annual track camp. Today we were working on speed and agility and I was lucky enough to get three coaches from the three-time national champs Florida State Seminoles to come down and help me and so far so good.
‘Today there were about 45 kids and hopefully we can build on that for the rest of the week. It’s a free camp and the kids get a chance to learn the basics of whatever sport they do and overall just be active. That is a big issue in Cayman and I’m trying to help that cause.’
Kareem is pleased that the current crop of aspiring champs gave up their time to give back.
‘They all came to me to offer their help and I was only happy enough to let them take part.
‘This is something I want to build for the future. I feel that these guys are going to be role models to our kids and give them a chance to see what it takes. They’re probably more connected to them because they’re more recent. These guys are ready and willing to come out and help out.
‘The coaches out of Florida State have given me an opportunity to be a volunteer coach and I’m doing my masters there and I work with the female sprinters.
‘So I’m getting some on the job experience while enjoying the benefits of being a coach. So I figured, why not get them involved in sports in Cayman and give them an idea of what I have to face in the future.
‘The other thing is, Harlis, the associate head coach, had his own track camp last week in Tallahassee and I participated in that. So, I said to come on down to my camp. And who’s going to say no to a trip to the Cayman Islands?’
Kareem is so pleased with the response that he is planning another one at the end of the year.
‘I’m already thinking of doing a winter camp because it’ll be right before the kids start their seasons. Next year is going to be a really big one with the Carifta Games and the Commonwealth Games. I’m guessing a lot of kids are going to show up. I’m hoping to help get them in some shape or form ready to start their season.’
These coaching sessions were made possible by the generosity of some supportive people.
Kareem added: ‘I would also like to thank my sponsors Wood Furniture, Cayman Airways, the Mackay family, Peter and Sara, for helping us with lodging and the Ministries of Health and Sports.
Meaders said: ‘This is our first time in Cayman and I’m really enjoying it. I’m working with the throwers. The kids learnt the fundamentals.
‘Today was the first time for a number of kids. One girl in particular did exceptionally well for a first time thrower. Everybody caught on really well, they’re learning really fast.
‘I know there’s a lot of raw talent coming out of Cayman. Given Kareem’s history and the history of the twins, there are a lot of kids that come to the States and run exceptionally well at the NCAA level and eventually run professionally after that. With these kids the goal is to keep everybody running, fit and healthy.’
Kenrick Williams is technical director of Cayman athletics. He was pleased to get fresh input from Kareem and the other coaches. ‘This idea is really great,’ he said.
‘This is what we want from our elite athletes who have given their lives, blood and sweat to the Cayman Islands, to come back and put back into the programme.
‘And this is what Kareem is doing and he has also incorporated Ronald Forbes, Michael and the rest of the elite athletes. This is what we want for the sport to grow here.’