Coaches focused on CARIFTA too

As the CARIFTA Games draw closer,
it’s not only the track athletes working hard to ensure Cayman has lots of
medal success when the annual tournament is staged here over the Easter
weekend.

Throughout the week at the Truman
Bodden Sports Complex, the aspiring champions are put through their paces by a
cadre of coaches, headed by technical director Kenrick Williams and his
assistant Tyrone Yen who concentrates on the younger athletes.

A trio of coaches add their
expertise to ensure Cayman covers itself in glory from 3-5 April.

Travis Webb, Mitchell Forbes,
Joseph Suberan, Ashleigh Nalty, Alexandra Terry, Anissa Owen and Chantelle
Morrison all have strong chances of medalling but there are others improving at
a rapid rate who could also end up on the podium.

Some of the greatest athletes in
the world started their careers at CARIFTA. They include Usain Bolt, Asafa
Powell, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie.

Beran Bloomfield is one of the
three extra coaches giving heart and soul to the cause.

“Coach Williams asked me to come
out as I have been doing the last couple of years in terms of helping the
CARIFTA team,” he says.

“I’m really trying to help out
Mitchell Forbes with the jumps and a little bit on the short sprint.

“I also help them in the gym for
their strength and conditioning.”

Jamaica-born Bloomfield left there
at 15 to live in the United States. Cricket was his sporting love at the time
so this is his first involvement with CARIFTA. He is a former banker and now
runs his own multi-media company.

When he moved to the States he
sprinted at Division One level. He got his Division One coaching badge there
and in the three years he’s lived in Cayman has put that to good use,
specialising in long jump.

David Hamil has competed in
CARIFTAs in the past and is giving back now as a sprint coach. He won a couple
of medals in the 200 metres in 1998 and 1999 and also medalled at the CAC Games
held here in 1997.

He coaches the likes of Joseph
Suberan and Mitchell Forbes too and strongly believes they have medal
potential.

A physical education teacher at
Prospect Primary, Hamil, 26, still wants to compete despite being out for years
through injury.

“Last year I was running 400m but I
want to focus more now on my 100m and 200m.

“I see my best potential in the
100m. Yes, 100m is very competitive but so is every other event. You just have
to have your goals set and go for them.

“I’m trying to make the CAC Games
and the Commonwealth Games this year. I’m feeling very good, going through
speed endurance right now. I’m strong and healthy, eating right and they are
the things you need to do well in track and field.”

His best 100m is 10.62 seconds 12
years ago but he is convinced that he can go much faster now.

“I’m sure I can go under my
personal record in my first meet. I just love sports. That was my major in
college and I’ve stuck with it and love to give back to the kids of the Cayman
Islands. What I have received I just want to give it back.”

Caitlin Hutchinson specialises in
sprint hurdle training, 100m for the girls and 110m for the boys.

“They have improved so much, Kristian
Dixon is doing really well. She has worked really hard and will definitely be
one to watch at CARIFTA in the 100m hurdles.

“Shanique Yen (Tyrone’s daughter)
too, is doing really well. She is a multi-eventer and will be doing the 400m
hurdles and sprints as well. She’s improved a lot this year in her form and
speed.”

Canadian Hutchinson was a
pentathlete and heptathlete at her university in Saskatchewan. Her team always
did well and were consistently in the top five nationally. Hurdles were her
best event.

This is her first involvement in
CARIFTA and she is as excited as the competitors.

Hutchinson is a teacher at Grace
Christian Academy in West Bay.

“I see our CARIFTA team excelling.
I see all the hard work going into it and how the athletes have improved on
their times and I expect we will do very well.”

Troy Long is one of the hopeful
young sprinters. The 15-year-old Cayman Academy student is in the 100m, 200m
and 400m. The 200m is his specialist subject.

“I’ve been doing track for a year
and a half now and this is my first big meet,” Long says. “I really hope I can
get a medal.”

Lloyd Barker, 17, attends the
Wesleyan Christian academy.

He did track as a small child, gave
it up and refound his enthusiasm a year ago.

“I picked it back up again because
I think I have something that I can work on.

“Usain Bolt has definitely been one
of my influences.”

Barker wants to practice corporate
law when he finishes school and couple that with ambitions of being a champion
sprinter.

“If I continue training as hard as
I am doing now, I think I can be very successful in track. Hopefully the
Olympics, not London, too soon – the one after.”

Coach Yen says: “Troy has come a
long way very quickly. Last year he ran a couple of races, including a 11.6 seconds
100m. He has improved tremendously since and is a lot stronger.

“We expect him to give us a strong
performance. We’re going to Jamaica in a couple of weeks’ time so hopefully
we’ll see him matching up against the Jamaicans and how exactly he is.

“Lloyd has improved a lot too, in
times and strength and especially in his dedication to the training. I think
with all that combination he will do well even though the Under-20s category is
the toughest.”

Coach Williams said: “The three
coaches we have working alongside Tyrone and myself bring to the table a lot of
experience.

“They might be young but they have
a lot of experience. David Hamil has run for the Cayman Islands and he also
went to university where he competed at a high level. He still holds the Cayman
400m record.

“He has a lot of ability and much
to offer the younger ones. He is working with four sprinters. We don’t know if
they’ll make the team but they are in the CARIFTA squad.

“Caitlan’s forte is in hepthalete
and especially hurdles. Her experience is also huge. She has good technique and
coaching skills and just what we are looking for.

“Beran is an old hand to the game.
His forte is jumps and sprints and like the others he is helping to mould this
team together.”

Cayman’s sprinting ability is not
over-rated. Williams adds: “Last year we had a visiting sprint coach from
England, Carl Graham, who worked with us for a week and he was so impressed with
our standards. He had just come for a holiday. We’d met at the Beijing Youth
Olympics in 2006.

“Carl just jumped right in and took
over the whole of my junior sprint programme. Hopefully, he will come back soon
and give some instruction to these fellas.”

caymanraces

The build up races are going well.
Ron Shillingford
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