Pan Am aim is Olympic mark

The Cayman Islands Olympic Committee has sent a team of 12 athletes to Mexico for the XIV Pan American Games and optimism of returning with medals is high.  

The Games run in Guadalajara from Friday until 30 October and for many of the Cayman athletes it is an ideal opportunity to try to qualify for next year’s London Olympics. The Pan American Games are the second largest multi-sport event after the Summer Olympics. The competition is held between athletes from the Americas every four years in the year before the Summer Olympics. Cayman will be represented in four sports. 

In athletics are hammer thrower Michael Letterlough, long jump twins Carl and Carlos Morgan, Junior Hines in the 400 metres hurdles and Jon Rankin in the 1500m.  

The swimmers will be busy. They are Shaune Fraser in the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle, 100m and 200m butterfly, his brother Brett in the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle, 200m backstroke and 100m butterfly, Lara Butler in the 100m and 200m butterfly and 200m and 400m individual medley and Tori Flowers in the 800m freestyle. In shooting Edison McLean and Christopher Jackson will compete in the trap. Cayman’s top equestrian rider Jessica McTaggart will compete in the individual dressage.  

Accompanying the athletes are their technical staff with Bruce Blake heading the team as the chef de mission. Team manager for athletics is Michael Nalty and athletics coach is Kenrick Williams. Bethany Cook is travelling as swimming’s team manager and physiotherapist along with coach Dominic Ross. The team manager for equestrian is Mary McTaggart, the groom is Cristopher De Lara and Jessica, Mary’s daughter, is taking her horse Ray of Light. Shooting has sent team manager Kevin Schirn and the general team physiotherapist is Al Bartice. The Cayman Islands Olympic Committee president Donald McLean and secretary general Carson Ebanks are attending, along with family and friends of competitors. 

The Pan American Sports Organisation and the Cayman Islands Olympic Fundraising Committee aided the Olympic committee in these Games, assisting in the cost of accommodation, airfare, outfitting the team and Games pins. 

Donald McLean said: “I feel the Fraser brothers are our best medal prospects and possibly Jon Rankin if he runs well. Jon can also qualify for the Olympics if he runs his personal best or close to it.  

“We have four qualified for the Olympics already in Cydonie Mothersill, Ronald Forbes and the Fraser brothers. Cydonie is injured and Ronald chose not to go to the Pan Ams because he and his coach felt it was coming too late in the season after the world championships. He wants to rest and stay focused on preparing for the Olympics and is hoping to make the finals at the Olympics.  

“This is a good team. We have no baggage and I’m excited about our prospects. Considering our population, we’re quite a big team. St Lucia, which is bigger, is only taking three athletes.  

“The venue and village in Guadalajara is ready after some concerns. I’ve been to Guadalajara twice and don’t expect any food or hygiene issues. Although it will be at altitude, the Fraser brothers have already been there for a week and I anticipate they’ve tapered well for it.” 

Jessica McTaggart

Jessica McTaggart has high hopes on Ray of Light. – PHOTO: SUBMITTED