Travers an inspiration to others

The team around Olympic skier Dow Travers
believes that his performance at the Winter Games in Vancouver will inspire
more Caymanians to emulate him.

Travers,
22, came 69th out of a field of 103 in the giant slalom at Whistler Creekside
on Tuesday. He was the first Caymanian to compete in a Winter Olympics and he
intends to continue skiing to qualify for the 2014 Games in Russia. Travers
finished with an overall time of 3 minutes 02.89 seconds in his two runs, 25
seconds behind the winner, Switzerland’s Carlo Janka. But it was a solid
performance for a novice who only gets around 50 days to practice on the slopes
a year.

His
coach Gene Bridgewater said: “I definitely have to say that Dow did better than
expected. It was a great day for Cayman. He started at 101st position and
finished 69th and that is a fantastic achievement. Any athlete who finishes
better than they are ranked; it’s a great day.

“There
was a lot of pressure on him and to come down the hill the way he did was
awesome. In 2014 I think Dow can move up a lot. Podium might be too much at his
age but to make the flip and get into the top 30 is definitely possible. But he
has to put in the 200 days a year training on the slopes and become a full-time
skier. He will have to improve by 20 seconds to do so. Athletically, he is such
a strong kid. He also has a good base for tactics.”

Donald
McLean is the president of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee who represented
Cayman in sailing at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. He said: “I was blown
away by Dow’s performance. He did extremely well and beat one third of the
field. I spoke to the skier from Senegal. He lives and trains in Austria. This
was his second Olympics yet Dow beat him. He also beat a lot of countries you
wouldn’t expect him to, like Hungary, which has a lot more people and is close
to snow. Dow should be very, very proud. I know his coach is and so is the
Olympic Committee. He can’t wait to do it again.

“It’s
not so much about medals. People get far too caught up on medals. It’s about
doing your best on the mountain. The exposure that Cayman is getting at these
Winter Games, you can’t buy that. He’s done so many interviews for TV, radio
and magazines. That really justifies it, right there. We’re not a traditional
Winter Olympics country, but it doesn’t matter whether it is summer or winter,
it’s the same team. He qualified and he should go.

“When
people ask me how Cayman got here, I say it’s the same as how the Netherlands
got here. You can put it down to globalisation. People are training all over
the world. A lot of our elite summer athletes are training overseas.

“It’s
difficult to foresee more Winter Olympians from Cayman in skiing but I would
encourage the skateboarders to consider snowboarding. Years ago we had a guy
from West Bay called Lumsden who won snowboard competitions at university. So
as we get more and more of our students going overseas, in the US and Canada,
they will become involved in snow sports, now they know they can aspire to go
to the Olympics. Dow is the first Cayman Winter Olympian and I’m pretty sure he
won’t be the last.”

There
has been a little criticism of the cost to Cayman for Travers to compete in Vancouver.
McLean added: “What we do, we do legitimately. We’ve got to be a very
transparent organisation. There is no funny business with money. We have audited
accounts. What people don’t really know is that we don’t take any Olympic
fundraising money to pay for officers of the Olympic Committee to travel.
That’s all paid for by the International Olympic Committee. But you can never
please all the people in Cayman. Online, I’ve seen more positive comments than
negative ones and I’m thankful.”

Carson
Ebanks is the secretary general of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee who has
the distinction of being the first Caymanian at an Olympics, Montreal in 1976,
in sailing. Ebanks competed in two other Olympics. He said: “We are overjoyed
by Dow’s fantastic achievement. From when we first started in the Olympics in
1976 we knew that we would advance ourselves. It’s taken quite a while to get
into the Winter Olympics. That was primarily through the efforts of Tony
Travers (Dow’s father). It was his idea and the Olympic Committee supported
that idea. Dow has inspired other youngsters and should also be encouraged to
further himself; after all, he is only 22.

“Everybody
I meet here has been so supportive and welcoming. They say it is fantastic to
see to see a small country like the Cayman Islands, especially in a
non-traditional winter sports country getting involved in the Winter Olympics.

“This
is what it is really all about; making new friends, getting some synergy, some
exposure for the Cayman Islands and we certainly did that.”

David
Carmichael is the chef de Mission. He said: “Dow is fantastic. I don’t believe
anyone in Cayman can possibly get close to what that man has done. He did
absolutely brilliantly. I’m totally stoked to be here. He rewrote history and
that is fabulous. Being the first Chef de Mission at a Winter Olympics has been
a huge job. A lot of people don’t realise that for a man to ski down a hill it
needs a big entourage to help.”

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