Kids inspired to be pro champs

By all accounts the Cayman Invitational was a huge success considering it was the first meet of its kind on these shores.

World 100 metres Yohan Blake and Carmelita Jeter won their events at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex and local track ace Cydonie Mothersill stormed round the bend in typical fashion to win the 200m in an emotional homecoming 17 years after her last appearance here.

Mothersill used all her contacts and goodwill gleaned from two decades on the track and field circuit to attract some of the world’s top athletes here two weeks ago. Nearly 2,000 spectators enjoyed the spectacle and on the basis of this inaugural event, coming off the back of the Jamaica Invitational where many athletes had just competed, it will grow into an compulsory meet for many.

Samantha Whittaker of Fresh Image PR worked tirelessly with Mothersill and Pearlina McGaw Lumsden to ensure the event went smoothly. Well, they certainly pulled it off with aplomb.

“The feedback on the Cayman Invitational has been phenomenal from people in the stadium as well as from the athletes,” Whittaker said. “They really enjoyed the atmosphere at the track and felt that the excitement was contagious. The athletes commented that this was one of the best organised and hosted league meets that they’ve attended in the Caribbean.

“Carmelita said that she thoroughly enjoyed her time in Cayman and genuinely intends to compete again next year.” Blake had a fabulous time too, feted wherever he went, including Welly’s for dinner the previous night.

“While there were a number of elements to be proud of, I was overjoyed by the international media coverage immediately following Blake’s race,” said Whittaker. “News of his time at the meet was picked up by several huge publications including ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and the London Times just to name a few.

“As the member of the organising committee with the responsibility for public relations and marketing, I was elated by this as not only does coverage in these publications solidify the Cayman Invitational within track and field it also helps to promote the Cayman Islands sports tourism product which has larger reaching benefits for the country.

“Cydonie felt that the overall event went very well. Her initial goal was to create a platform to help drive and develop athletics here and with this first meet under her belt, she is confident that she is well on her way to building a solid foundation that will motivate and inspire other Caymanians for years to come.”

The locals who competed were sprinters Kemar Hyman – who is London Olympics bound – and Rhymiech Adolphus and Tyrell Cuffy. Adolphus has been training in Jamaica in the same camp as Usain Bolt and Blake and Cuffy is dedicating himself to improving his 200m time. Both still hope to qualify for London.

In the long jump Carl and Carlos Morgan fell way short of the London qualifying distance, but they still have some time to reach the mark.

Premier McKeeva Bush attended, as did Minister of Sports Mark Scotland. Both are fully committed to establishing the Cayman Invitational as not only one of the best in the Caribbean, but also world renowned for excellence despite its size.

It was also a fitting opportunity for some local school kids to compete against each other in a professional atmosphere. Many now aspire to be world beaters too.

“The event was one for all athletes in Cayman to be proud of,” said Whittaker. “Many of the local athletes said that competing at this level in front of a home crowd has encouraged them to work harder and improve their standing to reach higher levels.

“We have also heard from aspiring professionals who said that while they’re not at the levels needed to compete at this year’s meet that the event has inspired them to reach those levels by next year.”

As with all inaugural events of this magnitude, not everything went absolutely perfectly, but plans are already in place to iron out the kinks and improve the next one. “As this was the first year for an event of this scale and type in Cayman there was nothing for us to compare notes on so now that we have established a foundation we are in a better position to target areas for improvement,” said Whittaker.

“It’s only two weeks and our team is already obtaining feedback and evaluating everything so we can pinpoint areas needing improvement to ensure that the 2013 Cayman Invitational is even better.”

Bolt is obviously the marquee athlete everyone would love to see stretch his elongated limbs here. Hopefully, the 25-year-old Jamaican may be enticed after all the positive things he has undoubtedly heard.

“The plan for the Cayman Invitational is for the meet to continue to get bigger and better each year. More events will be added to the lineup and work will be conducted to recruit as many track headliners as possible. So there is every possibility that as the event grows in size and popularity that Bolt could decide to grace our shores 
to compete.”

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