Cayman’s sprinting talent has gradually emerged as a strong one in recent years and one of the shining lights is Kemar Hyman.
His progression from promising junior to world class competitor was confirmed recently by qualifying for the world championships in Berlin that start on 15 August.
The rivalry between Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay will dominate the sprints and Hyman will soak in the whole experience with a view to challenging the big boys in the near future.
‘I’m really excited. I’m only 19 and to make it to the world championships is a big thing to me,’ said Hyman at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Monday.
‘Competing against the likes of Usain Bolt who everyone knows holds the world record for the 100 and 200 metres is really exciting.’
Hyman qualified in May at the Western University meet in North Carolina with a time of 10.26 seconds, two hundredths of a second inside the mark. He took the 100m and 200m double to become conference champ.
Unaware of the achievement, Hyman thought his finishing time was around 10.5secs so was pleasantly surprised when his coach, Johnny Bomar, ran over all hyped up with the good news.
Hyman is majoring in marketing and doing a minor in track coaching at King College in Tennessee where many Caymanians study on sports scholarships.
There is no doubt where his destiny lies. ‘I’ve been involved in track since I was 11 and after I finish competing want to stay in the sport for the rest of my life.’
Fellow sprinter Cydonie Mothersill will be the only other Caymanian at the world championships. Hyman is disappointed that hurdler Ronald Forbes is injured, 200m specialist Tyrell Cuffy did not quite reach the qualifying mark and the celebrated Cayman relay squad were too far off.
But at least they all have the Commonwealth Games in India next year to aim for and, of course, the London Olympics in 2012.
‘Tyrell got close. He’s been my training partner for a good while. He just needs to keep training hard and come back strong. I was also hoping for Ronald to come because he has always been like a role model for me.’
Rubbing shoulders with track royalty is fine but Hyman is going out there hoping for at least a third round place.
‘I know I can probably qualify for the second round but I’ll need to run a personal record of around 10.1secs to advance to the third round. By next year I hope to be under 10.
‘It is very hard to advance because you’ve got 17, 18 and 19-year-olds running 10.2s and 10.3s. I’ll just have to train harder and concentrate on lowering my time.’
Hyman’s pre-race strategy will be to try to psyche out his opponents. ‘I’ll try to give them the impression that I’ve run faster than I have. I’ve seen Bolt doing these signs and I’ll try to do something similar in my own way.’
Training with coach Kenrick Williams, Cayman’s track technical director, has gone well. Speed work, starts and strength sessions have all helped which showed in a 10.34 seconds run in Colombia last week. And that was despite carrying a slight hamstring injury.
Kemar’s brother Maxwell, 20, is principally a 400m hurdler and there’s little brother Bobby, seven, also showing promise.
Coach Williams said: ‘Kemar is definitely fulfilling all the potential that he’s shown over the years. As a matter of fact, right up to Hurricane Ivan in 2004, we were sitting here and he said to me that one day he would break the world record.
‘I told him that would be fantastic and I’ve seen the way he has developed along that line but the world record looks like it is in a different stratosphere now!
‘I think eventually he can do it, maybe in the next three or four years. He is definitely capable.
‘He will mix it up in Berlin with the best but he has an innate ability to do well. He has the top-end speed and all he needs to do is stay in school, compete some more and get into a Division One programme where he will be challenged to the max. Right now his school is in Division Two.
‘My expectation for Kemar in Berlin is to go through the first round. In the second round he will have to push himself.
‘Cydonie has been running around Europe and looks as if she is carrying a little injury but with the help of her coach and physio I think she will be alright in Berlin and find that extra 10 per cent to be fit for the championships.’