CARIFTA was a wonderful advert

The CARIFTA Games were an
incredible experience for the Cayman Islands.

Long considered a minnow in the sea
of sporting nations Cayman did well to host one of the biggest events in the region
over the Easter weekend.

Cayman lived up to the challenge
well and hosted an epic competition that saw records broken, waves of national
pride on display and arguably its brightest track prodigy win gold.

Just about every Caribbean nation
made its presence felt with fans dressed in national colours in the stands,
stomping their feet and dancing to the tune of home-made instruments waving
their flags proudly with every successful jump, run and throw.

Prior to the Games there was some
worry about whether Cayman would be an equally strong force in the stands. From
the onset those worries were put to rest as locals took to Truman Bodden Sports
Complex in droves.

Obviously all hit their fever pitch
towards the end of day one when Chantelle Morrison won gold in the girls Under-17
100 metres final. All that could be seen was row after row of Cayman flags
being swung high in the air while the rumble of cheers jolted many eardrums
miles away.

So much happened in the course of
three days it’s hard to get everything down on paper. Day one was quite
eventful right from the opening session.

Cayman’s Shanique Yen took part in
the semi-finals of the girls U-17 400m but saw a painful end to her CARIFTA Games.
Yen pulled up midway through the heat and hobbled to the finish grimacing in

Meanwhile Cayman athlete Alex
Pascual showed great form in the boys U-17 final. While he didn’t win the event
his poise and long throws point to a great future in that discipline.  

Over in the girls U-20 100m heats
Melinda McLean also ran well. Though she didn’t make it to the finals her
effort is highly commendable.

From there the opening ceremony was
quite an eye-opener. There was the usual array of speeches from dignitaries
like Premier McKeeva Bush, Sports Minister Mark Scotland and Cayman Amateur
Athletics Association President Rayle Roberts.

Then the various countries and
their athletes paraded around the track. Cayman was among the contingent and
the youngsters had a rousing round of cheers from the fans.

After that came the colours and
acrobatics of a dance routine that showed all the Caribbean
flags. Before it was all over Cayman’s Cydonie Mothersill received a bronze
medal for her World Championships 200m performance in 2001.

In terms of celebrities the Games
saw their fair share as Cayman track hero Kareem Streete-Thompson was present
throughout (he actually did colour commentary for the local TV crew), International
Amateur Athletics federation President Lamine Diack were present along with
models, singers and community figures.

The Games kept flying high after
that as the events went off on time (ahead of schedule in some cases) and the
athletes awed the crowd with their dazzling performances.

Ultimately when it’s all said and
done the Games went smoothly, local athletes held their own and Cayman deserves
all the props of hosting a fantastic CARIFTA Games.