Forbes is set to narrow the gap

The London Olympics are just over a year away but for prospective competitors that is only a blink of an eye. Many, like Cayman’s 110 metres hurdler Ronald Forbes have been working towards these Games all their lives.  

It is constantly on his mind and after a series of injury niggles, thankfully the 26-year-old from North Side is in great shape. Since his sudden emergence three years ago when he unexpectedly qualified for the Beijing Olympics and did not disappoint in China, expectations have been high.  

“I’ve never felt support like that from anywhere else,” he says. “Cayman now knows me as that guy that went to the 2008 Olympics.” 

Things have not been smooth since then. “I really didn’t have a good 2009 because of injury and only had two races in the entire year. When 2010 came along I ended up being a semi-finalist in the world championships indoors in Qatar and after that I ended up getting hurt again. Right then in April my season went downhill and I was never really able to get it back on point.  

“Fortunately, last year I came across a new head coach in Joey Scott and fitness trainer, Monica Swasey and they helped me finish off my season better.” 

His new team mapped out his strategy and schedule leading up to London and so far things are going well. “Now I have a whole different regimen outside as well as inside track and field. I’ve improved my diet. It used to be see-food – if I saw it I would eat it! Nowadays I eat at set times, set portions and basically only grains with little carbs.  

“It has helped me a tremendous amount, certainly in the weights room and on the track I don’t feel that tired anymore. I can basically go way more than before just on what I now eat.  

“From the start of my outdoor season this year I’m already down to a 13.50 seconds which surpasses my Olympic performance of 13.59secs. My new personal best I did with relative ease and a lot more confidence.” 

That confidence is not misplaced. He did a 13.24secs run in Florida two weeks ago but it was wind assisted so was not ratified as a new Cayman record.  

It is nevertheless encouraging because Forbes believes a 13.2secs could get an Olympic medal. “To win you’ve got to be 12.9 or 13.0.  

“All the top guys will be set for London. You’ll have the return of the Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang (2004 Olympic champion), the Cuban Dayron Robles, the American David Oliver… Those guys are absolute beasts on the track and to beat them you have to come with it – and then some.” 

The intention is to get to at least the final. It will mean that Forbes will be one of the top eight hurdlers in the world, no small achievement considering the size of his country, one of the tiniest to ever enter the Olympics.  

His schedule leading up to the big one is mapped out starting with the Central American and Caribbean Championships in Puerto Rico next month. Then it’s the world championships in Daegu, South Korea in August and the Pan American Games in Mexico in October.  

The 2012 indoor season will kick off the crucial year and lots of meets in between before London. They’ll all provide perfect markers to gauge progress and monitor rivals.  

“I really hope to perform well at all of those. My goal right now is just to stay healthy. That’s always been my drawback, including hamstring and a stress fracture on my foot which is what I was suffering from going into the Beijing Games. But I really didn’t want to let the whole country down.” He certainly didn’t.  

Forbes is in Cayman for a while to train but does most of it in Miami, at a little track at Belen High School near Sweetwater. Strength training is done at the Speedworks gym nearby.  

Without the support network provided by the government and the Olympic Committee, plus a couple of main sponsors, Forbes acknowledges he could not possibly be a full-time athlete. 

“I don’t think I could have a career without the Cayman Islands government, both past and present. Me, and all the other elite athletes in the programme really appreciate their contribution.  

“The Olympic Committee, they have my back 100,000 per cent. Miss Annie Mae and Mr. Donald McLean they look out for me 24/7. Anything I need they provide and always do it with a smile.  

“My other sponsors are LIME and CUC who help me out tremendously. It’s just a little thing to help me along, but I say: ‘Dude you don’t know how much every cent counts.’ If there are any other sponsors, please bring it on.  

“The greater cause of what I’m doing is to put Cayman Islands track and field at the forefront. The general public always have a good word to say which makes me feel what I’m doing is well worth it. I’ve even had people who have recently come out of prison say they’ve been following me when inside. 

“I want to inspire kids to emulate me. Hopefully, 10 years from now there will be five of me at world championships and Olympic Games. To my family and supporters, thanks for your support, I’ll always do my best.” 

Sports Story

Robles is one of the finest hurdlers in the world. – PHOTOS: FILE

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