LONDON – The Cayman Islands may not win any gold medals at the London Games but it is top of the podium with Olympic Solidarity, the body that helps fund all countries to boost their representation at the greatest show on earth.
Donald McLean is proud that Olympic Solidarity is impressed with how well Cayman has used its allocation of funds.
The Cayman Islands Olympic Committe had five Olympic Solidarity scholarships this quadrennial and all five qualified with ‘A’ standard times. No other country had all their scholarship holders qualify.
McLean, the president of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, said: “The Olympic Solidarity Scholarships for 2012 was nothing to do with academics; it is strictly financial assistance.
“The object is to get athletes qualified for the Games and we accessed $125,000 over two years from Olympic Solidarity for five athletes.
“We are the only country of 204 competing at the Games that qualified all the Olympic Solidarity London 2012 scholarships. Not only did we qualify but we did it with all ‘A’ standards and they are very impressed.
“When the new quadrennial comes out in January, in preparation for Rio de Janeiro in 2016, they might even increase ours because we did so well and for that I’m very pleased.”
Four of the five Cayman athletes at the London Games – Cydonie Mothersill, Ronald Forbes and the Frasers, Shaune and Brett – are full-time and funded by the government’s elite programme. Kemar Hyman has just graduated from university and will join the elite programme shortly. Elite athletes receive around $40,000 annually.
“Obviously, we are thankful for the support of the government because just a $1,000 a month couldn’t do it,” added McLean. “So the cooperative effort between the government’s elite funding programme and the Olympic Committee through Olympic Solidarity is why we are able to field such a strong team.
“This time we applied for nine athletes and we had five qualified. Some countries applied for 10 and only got one in. If you don’t qualify any athletes, you’re allowed to bring two in swimming and two in track and field, male and female. There are a lot of countries here with no qualified athletes. So a country like Cayman with five qualified athletes to ‘A’ standard is truly amazing.”