Top officials fancy our progress

Much of the Cayman Islands is still buzzing over its success at a regional beach volleyball competition.

Among them are top local sports officials. Many, like Director of Sports Collin Anglin, state Cayman’s success is testament to the country’s ability to compete on the international stage.

“It’s huge, it goes to show what we can achieve,” Anglin said. “Those players made history for Cayman. In spite of our size we’re able to achieve incredible things. It speaks to the resilience of our people and their persistence.

“It also highlights the ability of our sports federations to provide great national progress. I’m very proud of the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation. The tournament promotes Cayman from a tourism perspective and I’m really sure it is inspiration to a lot of our athletes.”

For the first time ever, Cayman’s national mens and womens beach volleyball teams advanced past the first stage of Olympic qualification. The sides finished fifth in the North American, Central American and Caribbean volleyball federation Continental Cup at Public Beach.

Representing Cayman for the men were Olney ‘OT’ Thompson and playing partner Philippe Deslandes with Richard Campbell and Shervin Rankin. The women featured Cristin Alexander and Jennifer ‘JB’ Bily along with Taylor Burrowes and Stefania Gandolfi.

Cayman now moves on to the next qualifier for the 2012 London Olympics in the New Year. A number of teams will join them in Trinidad and Tobago (which won the men’s segment and finished runners-up with the women), Bahamas (men’s runners-up), Barbados (who won the women’s group), Jamaica (which placed third for the men and fourth for the women), Curacao (third for the women) and St. Kitts and Nevis (fourth for the men).

In all 12 Caribbean countries and 40 teams competed in Cayman, tying a mark for the most sides ever at a NORCECA event. Matches, which were overseen by Fédération Internationale de Volleyball officials, were well attended and supported by the local crowd.

From here Cayman competes in Costa Rica against Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama and hosts Costa Rica. All of those nations represent the top five countries from the Central America zone. The NORCECA continental champions will be granted an Olympic berth.

One man with guarded excitement is sportsman Bernie Bush, who serves as the treasurer for the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee. Bush states the focus now for Cayman is doing well in Costa Rica.

“I’m very proud that they advanced, as long as they realize they have to train harder now,” Bush said. “They have to be ready and try just as hard. We can go the next step as well.

“The Cayman men’s team finally brought through a young player. Richard really stepped up in the final. I hope they can continue to bring more young guys. OT and Shervin are up in age.

“The tournament has already proven itself. I feel we just have to get it out on the overseas calendar more. The beach, the weather and the venue all work. This can go a lot of places once we market this properly.”