Having 100 metres world champion Yohan Blake run here at the inaugural Cayman Invitational last week was a shrewd investment by the meet coordinators, headed by Cayman’s track ace Cydonie Mothersill.
The 21-year-old Jamaican cruised to the world’s second-fastest time in 9.84 seconds and evidently had plenty left as he was looking around at his rivals well before the finishing line.
Compatriot Michael Frater was second in 10.05 seconds and Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago one-hundredth of a second behind.
For Blake it was no more than a routine workout and he said that he was pleasantly surprised by how fast he ran, which was only two-hundredths of a second slower than Race Track team-mate Usain Bolt’s time set a few days before at the Jamaica Invitational. Both will be vying for supremacy when they meet in both sprints at the London Olympics which begin in July.
He said he had a great time on his first visit to Cayman and thoroughly enjoyed his dinner at Welly’s the night before. Hopefully, Blake will be back next year and thrill the many Jamaicans that turned out.
Like all champions, Blake was seeking perfection. He said: “It could have been a little better had I executed better in the first part of the race because I was all over the lane. But running that time, I think it was really good.”
Cayman’s Olympic rep Kemar Hyman was fourth. Hyman, 22, said: “It was a good experience, running along with Blake and Bledman. I’ve known these guys since I was 11, 12 and in the CARIFTAs, so seeing these guys at international and highest level is real good.”
Mothersill pipped the opposition in a tight finish in the 200m, finishing in 23.51 seconds. The other Caymanians in the meet were 200m sprinter Tyrell Cuffy and the long jump twins Carl and Carlos Morgan. Carlos was third with 7.48 metres, behind Will Clay of the USA (7.97m) and Jamaica’s Nafee Harris (7.93m). Carl fifth with 7.06m. Cuffy was seventh in 22.43 seconds.
Olympic hopeful Rhymiech Adolphus earlier won the 100m Cayman men’s race.
Carmelita Jeter lived up to expectations and blazed down the track to win the women’s 100m in 11.04 seconds, ahead of American compatriot Jeneba Tarmoh and Ivory Coast’s Muriel Ahoure.
Warren Weir of Jamaica was the men’s 200m winner, Bahamian Chris Brown took the 400m title, American Ginnie Crawford won the women’s 100m hurdles. Canada’s Dylan Armstrong was the shot put king, Meliss Bishop of Canada grabbed the women’s 800m title, Ajoke Odumoso took gold in the women’s 400m hurdles and Sam Vasquez was triumphant in the men’s 1500m.
Novlene Williams-Mills was well ahead of the field in the women’s 400m. She is a good friend of Mothersill and rooms with her on the circuit. Williams-Mills said: “This was a Caribbean track meet, so the music was real good. It kept you alive and pumped.”
American David Payne was third in the men’s 110m hurdles. He said: “I thought it was great. For a first meet, I think it was the best I’ve been to on the Islands and I want to come back next year.” Payne was involved in the tightest race of the night, finishing in 13.41 seconds, one-tenth of a second behind winner Jamaica’s Hansel Parchment and fellow American Joel Brown who were both timed at 13.41 seconds.
American sprinter Melisa Barber had a blast. “This meet was amazing,” she said. “The accommodation was amazing, the weather was great. I’ve been to many Diamond League meets – and Golden League before that – and this was right up there with them. It might even be a little better because the crowd was great and the music was awesome.”
Mothersill said: “When you think of the Cayman Islands you think more of banking and tourism but I think we have a good crop of athletes here. It just takes us a while to first get there and actually believe that just because we’re a nation of only 54,000 we can’t compete against the best. I think we’re getting there slowly. We’re a young nation in track and field but we’re getting there.”
She was pleased with the win although not the sluggish time. Nevertheless, it was a fitting return to the track since injury prevented her racing since October 2010 when she won the Commonwealth Games gold in India. Mothersill, 34, was congratulated by Premier McKeeva Bush and Minister of Sports Mark Scotland for her outstanding contribution pulling the whole Cayman Invitational together.
“After the race I was so full of emotion. I wanted to cry, scream and laugh. I had so many emotions going on. It’s been 17 long years. When I started this journey it was a bit selfish, I wanted to race at home before I finished my career, which I have now so I’m extremely happy.”