The five Caymanian athletes who have qualified for the London Olympics are fine tuning themselves for their biggest challenge in a few weeks.
Three of them – Shaune and Brett Fraser and Kemar Hyman – were at the a send–off reception for the Olympic team at the Ortanique Restaurant in Camana Bay on Saturday.
Sprinter Cydonie Mothersill was in Europe preparing to race and sprint hurdler Ronald Forbes was competing in Kingston at the Jamaica National Championships.
Duncan Taylor, the governor, attended the reception, wishing all the athletes well in London and noted that Hyman’s best 100 metres time of 10.04 seconds is faster than any in the British team.
Shaune Fraser spoke on behalf of the athletes and thanked everybody for their support, especially the Olympic Committee and promised to do his best as all the others will. The Games start on 27 July.
Betty Baraud, champion fundraiser for Cayman’s Olympic team for the past 20 years who has raised around $1.5 million, was there with other fundraising committee members, including Avril Brophy. Bruce Blake, the team attache, made the introductions. The Special Olympics reps were Toni Johnson and Andrew Smilley.
Lori Powell is the Chef de Mission again having had the same role at the Beijing Olympics. She said: “I’m very excited about this team. We have five ‘A’ standard qualified athletes which is really amazing for such a small country.
“Even the governor said tonight that Kemar runs faster than the top qualifier in the Great Britain team. So if you consider the population size (60 million in the UK compared to Cayman’s 55,000) that’s pretty amazing.”
The amount of support Cayman athletes will have in London will be disproportionate too. “We’ll have a lot of people in London because there are so many people in Cayman who have a second residence there. For example, Andrew and Jane Moon and the Wickers, Simon and Candy. They’ve all been so amazing in offering us assistance in any way to have us over for lunches and dinners.”
Donald McLean, president of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, said: “We are extremely pleased and it is an amazing accomplishment for Cayman’s swimming when considering countries like Canada who only have maybe one athlete in the ‘A’ class 200m freestyle and Mexico maybe has one, so too Puerto Rico. And we’ve got two!
“It is truly amazing what the athletes have done. Obviously, we’ve also got Kemar with a new national record in a fast time and Cydonie and Ronald. It is all a result of funding. Money brings results. There is no secret there. We knew that all along. This is the most money we’ve ever had from Olympic Solidarity.
“In a four-year period we’ve accessed close to US$1 million and obviously, with Betty Baraud and her fundraising efforts assisting us with the elite athlete programme that’s all it’s added up to.”
McLean believes there is still an outside chance of another Caymanian qualifying for London even at this late stage. “The long jumper Carl Morgan is getting close. I don’t think we’ll get any wild card invitations because we have five good ones already. But we did have a tri-partite invitation for a boxer based on the fact that Dariel Ebanks and Kendall Ebanks went to the world championships.
“So there is still an outside chance that we could get an invitation with a boxer but we won’t know until mid-July. I’m not expecting to get a slot but if we do it will be a good surprise.”