LONDON – Mark Scotland, Minister of Sports, was at the London Olympics to see the Cayman Islands team perform.
The Fraser brothers, Shaune and Brett, did exceptionally well in their swim events reaching semi-finals.
On the track, Kemar Hyman reached the 100 metres semi-finals but was injured and not fit enough to race, Ronald Forbes went out in the heats of the 110m hurdles and Cydonie Mothersill was injured as well and could not run in the women’s 200m heats.
“The team that represented the Cayman Islands at the London Olympics was by far the best ever sent,” said Scotland.
“Obviously, all five qualified to the ‘A’ standard. That says a lot in itself, in terms of preparation and meeting those qualifying marks, which is much better pro-rata than many other much bigger countries.
“That hasn’t come about by accident. The athletes themselves have done a lot of work but it is also based on a huge collaboration between the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, the government and the Ministry of Sports in particular.
“Those athletes, with the exception of Kemar, are all elite and train full-time, contracted by the Cayman government. Kemar will be now too. In the coming weeks we will sign a contract with him which will bring our total elite athletes to eight.
“We’re glad to see that number growing. It shows the development of sports over the last few years. It obviously shows that being full-time is what it takes to reach the pinnacle in sports, the Olympic Games.”
Scotland looks forward to the continued collaboration between the Olympic Committee and the government.
He added: “The next step we want to improve on is talent identification so that we can bring our youngsters through the system like we did with Ronald, Cydonie and Kemar.”
Seeing the Fraser brothers, Shaune and Brett reach semi-finals in their swimming events was especially pleasing for Scotland. “We expected that from them, finishing in the top 15 and top 20 in the world in their events is tremendous. They made us proud and held the flag highly.
“They are wonderful young men, disciplined, composed and represented us the best that we could ever expect. We want to continue supporting them and want to see them come and do some work in the community, talking in schools and to young people because that is part of what is in their contract, motivating and being role models.”
The minister was disappointed not to see Mothersill and Hyman not appear, but is nevertheless appreciative of their achievements.
“Cydonie is another athlete who has represented us well, five Olympics. We would have liked to have seen her in the heat but the future of her health is much more important than any one event. Also, with some disappointment we’re still happy that she was there.
“Most of all, we want to thank and congratulate her for what she’s done for sports and track and field for Cayman over the past 20 years. She has represented us to the best of her ability, winning a world championship medal and the Commonwealth Games. It doesn’t get much better than that for such a small jurisdiction.”
Scotland emphasised that to have five athletes from such a tiny country is exceptional. “We are doing something good and going to continue that. We’re looking forward to Ronald, Kemar and the Frasers back in Rio in 2016. There are many Games before that as well we want to see them compete in.
“We want to continue raising the profile of these athletes in Cayman so that we can keep motivating our young athletes on how they can benefit from a life in sports.
“These five are a living example of that and they are going to continue to improve. The government is going to continue to support sports in a big way.
“We’ve seen in the past few years the tremendous improvements in track and field and swimming and the Olympics are a culmination of all those events.”
Scotland can see the trend of Caribbean track and field athletes grabbing medals at major tournaments. Kirani James won gold on Monday in the 400m for Grenada, their first ever Olympic medal. James, 19, was followed by two other Caribbean athletes in the event.
“The Caribbean is proud of all our athletes,” said Scotland. “I want to send my congratulations to all of them. Kirani James we saw run at the CARIFTAs in Cayman in 2010 aged only 17. You could see from then the great things he was going to go on to do. World champion, now Olympic champ, it’s only a matter of time before he breaks the world record in a couple of years.
“I’d like to see some of our Cayman athletes get involved in the training programmes elsewhere in the Caribbean. I see that regional athletes are training in Jamaica with Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake and their coach Glenn Mills and that’s something I’d like for some of our guys. Whatever formula they are using, it’s getting the results.”