Special Olympic athletes are in focus of late.
A historic open water swimming clinic was held here last month and now Cayman is in the midst of its national games. Special Olympics Cayman Islands have been putting athletes through their paces this week, with bocce and aquatics among the events.
Maxine Everson is part of the Cayman group and states the events raise recognition for Special Olympic athletes.
“We have days of Special Olympic awareness ongoing and it’s invaluable,” Everson said. “It’s important to see what Special Olympics is doing in Cayman. We had about 20 Special Olympic athletes taking part in the recent Butterfield swim, with Alec Cox and Mike Hunter coming over from the Sister Islands Swimming Club.
“Special Olympics International will use the clinic as a model for more open water swims. Curacao was here and they can invite other athletes. Barbados, the same thing. SOI can then, say, use the clinic in places like South Africa and Asia to get more athletes into open water swimming.”
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The national games started last Saturday with an athletics day at Savannah Primary School. Tuesday saw athletes take part in bocce at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex and on Wednesday the athletes engaged in a swimming competition at the Lions Aquatic Centre.
Toni Johnson is a veteran of Cayman’s Special Olympics scene and states the games can keep the momentum going from the clinic.
“The track and field meet was held for the first time at the new track at Savannah Primary,” Johnson said. “All agreed that this venue was an excellent alternative to Truman Bodden. SOCI is very grateful to the principal and staff for the use of the facility.
“Our celebrations continued with a warm welcome to worship at the St George’s Anglican Church on Monday. Reverend Mary Graham and the rest of the congregation were indeed very hospitable to the athletes and their families, volunteers and board members.
“The first Special Olympics Open Water Swimming Training Clinic was recently facilitated by Steven Munatones and Kester Edwards of SOI. SOCI hosted this event, with a total of twelve coaches and nine athletes participating in the clinic and the 800m Butterfield competition.
“The best part of the clinic was the sharing of best practices and coaches were able to frankly discuss their challenges as well as support each other with ideas for expanding the sport. Two athletes, Mitchell Lopez of Curacao and our own Andrew Smilley, took part in the coach’s training.”