It has been a busy year for sports in the Cayman Islands. One person who acknowledges the numerous achievements is Mark Scotland.
The Minister of Sports recently pushed for a national ceremony to honour three of Cayman’s elite athletes in Brett Fraser, Shaune Fraser and JJ McLean. At the Heroes Square function in George Town last week, Minister Scotland gave a round-up of 2011’s top local athletes.
“Other sports achievements are worthy of mention. Through our athletes we can build a bright future for Cayman,” Minister Scotland said. “There are swimmers Lara and Geoffrey Butler, who did well in CARIFTA and the Island Games. The track athletes had a good run this year such as Jorel Bellafonte at CARIFTA, Jon Rankin competing at the CAC Games, Carl Morgan at the Pan Am Games, Ronald Forbes and Cydonie Mothersill qualifying for the Olympics and Alex Pascal being second in the Caribbean for his age group.
“In the boxing ring, Charles ‘Killa’ Whittaker continues to get better as he gets older. He’s waiting on his world title chance and I hope he gets that next year. A group of youngsters won in Barbados and all of them had good achievements again.
“The Under-19 girls football team and the U19 rugby team also impressed. In fact in football we saw Sebastian Martinez sign a contract with Swindon Town and that is a tremendous achievement. He might be the first in our history to sign a developmental contract with an English club. Our Special Olympics athletes did well in Greece and our young sailors did well in Bahamas.
“All in all there were excellent achievements for these small islands. As the Minister of Sports I’m truly proud of the athletes this year.”
The Fraser brothers and McLean were honoured for their achievements in the water. Brett, 22 and Shaune, 23, 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 also won gold and silver in the Pan-Am Games in Mexico with Brett breaking a 16-year-old record in the process. McLean, 22, won the International Jet Sports Boating Association Pro Runabout limited world title in Lake Havasu, Arizona.
Minister Scotland states the young men proved why they have the title of being elite athletes.
“I’ve asked myself what does it take to be on top? How do they achieve extraordinary things? Elite athletes are blessed with more talent than the average person though passion and determination are also crucial. They have the will to fight through setbacks. The Frasers started in a 25m pool but didn’t use that as an excuse. JJ worked hard and didn’t let a lack of local events stop him.
“They are the reason why government supports our loyal sports association through grants. They serve as role models. We invest in sports to produce more high performing athletes. However none of them would be there without their parents and parents have been the backbone for JJ, Brett and Shaune.
“If you want to win, it takes hard, tedious work. The beauty of sports is the lessons we learn on the field or in the pool or the ocean can inspire us in life. As Larry Bird once said a winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.”
Echoing Scotland’s words at the ceremony would be Premier McKeeva Bush, who stated that local athletes can uplift the community now and in the future.
“It takes years to make good things come to fruition,” Premier Bush said. “I remember the Frasers and the Powells worked hard in the early years to make the swim programme successful. They were the ones driving, pushing and advising the ministry and being good parents to their children. Thank you parents, you made this happen.
“In our community, parents and siblings share the triumphs and defeats in sports and life. That spirit makes us strong.”