Three of the Cayman Islands top athletes are pleased with their most recent award.
Swimming brothers Shaune and Brett Fraser along with jet ski rider Jordan ‘JJ’ McLean were showcased at a national ceremony. Premier McKeeva Bush, Minister of Sports Mark Scotland and the majority of the ruling United Democratic Party government honoured the young men before Christmas at Heroes Square in downtown George Town.
Brett, 22, states the commendation was a great privilege for him and his family.
“This is phenomenal and a proud moment,” Brett said. “My country has always assigned support to me and my brother. You guys, the Cayman public, give us the support and the will to go out and make this country proud.”
Brett and older brother Shaune, 23, had a fantastic year. The duo qualified for the 2012 London Olympics in the 200 metre freestyle event, marking the second straight time they will star on that stage (they competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics). The George Town natives, sons of Laurice and Jim Fraser, also won gold and silver in the Pan-Am Games in Mexico; with Brett breaking a 16-year-old record in the process.
Shaune credits his parents for the success he has attained thus far.
“This is very special and I’m so happy to get this much support,” Shaune said. “Knowing we have the support helps us with training every day to strive for our goals.
“My parents are instrumental in getting me where I am today. The government and my parents helped get me off to school (the University of Florida) and become an elite athlete. Without that (backing) Brett and I would not be where we are right now.”
The ceremony was witnessed by over 100 people, including numerous local sportsmen. The parents of the athletes were also present, including Elaine and Mack McLean, the mother and father of JJ McLean. All would hear a long list of accomplishments, including JJ winning the International Jet Sports Boating Association Pro Runabout limited world title in Lake Havasu, Arizona.
For JJ, 22, the ceremony is validation of his efforts in personal watercraft racing and he hopes more youngsters will emulate him.
“It’s a huge honour to praise my sport like this,” JJ said. “I’m so happy with government’s acknowledgement and it’s a good step for the sport going forward. I hope we have more athletes reach this level and it paves the way for everyone in sports. It can also be motivation for young people to achieve their dreams and conquer obstacles.”
The main speakers at the ceremony were Premier Bush and Minister Scotland. Both spoke at great length about the importance of sports in Cayman and the story behind the success of McLean and the Fraser brothers.
Premier Bush considered the young men role models for their ability to tackle sporting and academic excellence simultaneously.
“To excel in sports goes a long way in living well,” Premier Bush said. “Therefore we recognize the achievements of these young people in sports. The titles and trophies JJ has won is most impressive. I’m proud to note that JJ also pursued a college degree and is a role model to his peers.
“The careers of the Fraser brothers have been closely linked and this has been an outstanding year for them. High physical and mental stamina has resulted in great results in swimming. There are few things more demanding than using the human body in water. Shaune and Brett also seek the opportunity to motivate others to excel. They work hard to make it happen and I’m especially proud of them as swimmers.
“Many eyes will be on them and we pray for them to do their best as well as handle the pressure. You go get them boys.
“I recall as the 1994 Minister of Sports we put swimming as a focus sport and there were critics then as well. You have to take the criticism that goes along with that. For bringing in a coach and making it a focus sport, people said we’re surrounded by water and we don’t need a pool. Today we’re seeing the fruits of government expenditure. It takes years to make good things come to fruition.”
Minister Scotland would point out that the boys have links to his native Bodden Town.
“This is an auspicious occasion to show home-grown talent,” Scotland said. “Shaune and Brett have been making headlines for years and we’ve grown accustomed to that. But they surpassed expectations in stunning fashion.
“JJ made more than just waves in Arizona. He proved he has a bright future in the sport. Like the Frasers, he is not just an athlete but a scholar as well. They also have something else in common. Their mums are from Gun Square in Bodden Town. There must be something in the water in Gun Square!”