When the CARIFTA Games begin over
the Easter weekend many locals will cheer for Ashleigh Nalty and the rest of
the Cayman team.
Among those slated to fill the
stands at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex is young sports prodigy Mikayla
McLaughlin. As the John A Cumber Primary student states she has more than a
casual link to Nalty.
“I’ll be there cheering for Cayman
and especially Ashleigh. I knew her from when we went away in 2008 to compete
for Cayman in the Caribbean Union of Teachers meet in the British
Nalty has been a big inspiration to
the 10-year-old ever since and McLaughlin’s progress in local sports has shown
The West Bay
native is heavily involved in track and field. She trains with the Mustang
track team, under the watchful eye of coach Tyrone Yen, on a regular basis.
Under Yen she won a silver medal in
the 100 metres in the 2008 CUT meet in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
The tall and lanky year five student
uses her build in a number of athletics events including the 100m, 200m, 800m,
relay, long jump and high jump.
She took part in last week’s
Inter-Primary Schools Track and Field Championships where she has been champion
girl twice. She has also been champion girl at her school the last three years.
McLaughlin says her ability on the
track comes from natural talent and lots of encouragement.
“I’m good at it and I just love it.
I’m just naturally athletic and I’m pushed on by my coach Harcourt Wason (who
has trained her for four years). I can do a lot of different events but my
favourite is the 200m because it feels short to me and I’m not really good at
long distance running.
“My parents encourage me a lot and
both of them are very supportive.”
Thanks to her parents, McLaughlin
has more than her fair share of natural ability. Mom Samara Maria (Ebanks) used
to be a runner in school and dad Gary ‘Butcher’ McLaughlin is the star player
on the Wolves men’s national basketball team (with Butcher’s help the squad won
its first-ever championship last season).
Mom has even gone as far as give
Mikayla a very similar nickname to her ex-husband.
“I knew she could excel in sports
back in year two when she was six years-old,” Samara Maria said. “She won most
of her events and had that great desire to win that athletes have. I’m very
proud of her. I’ve even taken to calling her ‘Little Butcher’.
Mikayla has athletes all over in
her family. First cousin Leandra Ramoon is a year seven student at Leading Edge
and takes part in netball, track and field and football. Last week Ramoon, 12,
ran for her school at the George Hick Campus Sports Day.
Like the rest of her family,
McLaughlin’s athleticism goes beyond the track. Recently she showed her prowess
by taking her West
Bay team to a second
place finish in the A division of the primary school netball league.
The youngster is even considering
adopting golf before the end of the year.
Nevertheless McLaughlin’s future in
sports looks brightest in athletics. Her immediate focus after CARIFTA will be
qualifying for the 2010 Caribbean Union track meet in St. Kitts this July.
In the end it’s no secret that she
is among the next crop of star athletes alongside Jouri Haylock, Shenell
Stewart and Annikay Anderson. That fact has supporters like her mom seeing Mikayla
starring in future CARIFTA Games.
“I can definitely see
her participating in the next couple of years in CARIFTA,” Samara Maria said. “Hopefully
one day she can run for Cayman and be the next Cydonie Mothersill.”