Few athletes in the world have the connections to get world record holders and Olympic champions to attend a low-key fundraising event at a moment’s notice, yet that is exactly what Cydonie Mothersill managed to do for her celebrity lunch on Saturday.
Cayman’s celebrated sprinter hosted Dine With the Olympians lunch at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort and none other than former 100 metres world record holder Asafa Powell hopped over from Jamaica at short notice as one of the star guests.
Multiple champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was scheduled to come but had to pull out unexpectedly and Powell was only too pleased to fill in.
The event was Mothersill’s way of giving back to Cayman Islands Athletic Association to raise money for the programme. At $125 a pop it was a big ask but the five-time Olympian, through her company KyStar, managed to attract enough support to make it a huge success.
Doctor Glen Mills, the celebrated head coach of Racers Track Club – who trains Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, currently the world’s fastest men – also came.
Mills announced he rarely travels from Jamaica after an Olympics but so special is his relationship with Mothersill that he thought nothing of coming over.
Also over were Jamaica’s Warren Weir, 200m bronze medallist behind Bolt and Blake at the London Olympics and Michael Frater, another Jamaican, who won gold at the London Games in setting the world 4x100m relay record with Bolt, Blake and Nesta Carter.
Bahamian 400m specialist Chris Brown completed the line up. He too won gold at the London Games, running spectacularly in the final leg of the 4x400m to beat off the United States.
Brown, Frater and Weir all competed at the inaugural Cayman Invitational in May.
Premier McKeeva Bush was off island and sent his apologies through Minister of Sports Mark Scotland who attended with his wife Cindy.
Other dignitaries there included Donald McLean, President of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee and Doctor Dalton Watler, President of the Cayman Islands Athletic Association. Kenrick Williams, local track technical director added his support and there were Special Olympics athletes and many aspiring track stars too.
Scotland raised a laugh when he mentioned that Cayman beat Jamaica in football in the early Nineties which was a catalyst for the Reggae Boyz to revamp their football programme and within a few years had qualified for the World Cup Finals. He also lauded Mothersill for the immense contribution she has made to the sport and as she moves out of competing and more into coaching and administration, the Government will continue to support her.
An auction conducted by master of ceremonies Delroy Murray raised plenty for the cause with an autographed track vest enthusiastically acquired by Dalton Watler and several other items generously bought by guests.
Mills said: “Cydonie and I go way back. In 2002 I coached her for about three or four months in the States when I was there for a short while and I have been very impressed with her over the years.
“She is really a tremendous sports woman and I’ve watched her compete with grace and character and she has been a good, clean athlete throughout her career and is really somebody that exemplifies the qualities that I believe in and I’m always willing to support her as much as I can.
“I think in her Cayman has tremendous potential from someone who has a great deal of knowledge that could inspire the young girls and boys and could really create a new interest in the sport and I’m very pleased to see that the Cayman fraternity is supporting her endeavours and I wish her all the best.”
A relieved Mothersill, 34, said: “I am so thankful to God for seeing us through this event.
“Initially the task at hand was a difficult one because of time constraints and the confirming of sponsors but once the message was received regarding the purpose for the fundraiser things came together and we were very pleased with what transpired.
“The response from Dr. Mills and the Olympians has been great. They thoroughly enjoyed their stay with us while lending a hand for a worthy cause at the same time.
“There were many highlights from the event including the Olympians meeting the Special Olympians and the speeches that were delivered by Dr. Glen Mills and Asafa Powell who inspired and challenged us to be a part of the growing domination of Caribbean athletes in track and field.
“A considerable amount was raised however the final tally has not yet been confirmed.”
Mothersill organised the event on relative short notice. She believes it could happen again next year and be far bigger. “I definitely think this event could be repeated next year.
“The association plays an important role in the development of our youth and this event will assist them in maintaining their dreams.
“Therefore my partnership with them for this event and others can only be beneficial to our youth and I feel there is no better place to be positioned than to assist the future of track and field in our Islands.”
The inaugural Cayman Invitational attracted some of the biggest names in Caribbean and world athletics, including Blake and Carmelita Jeter. Mothersill hopes to see a repeat next year.
“KyStar will be hosting the 2013 Cayman Invitational which I am very excited about as I do believe that this meet is instrumental in the development of athletics in the Cayman Islands,” she said.
“As the meet will be bigger and better we will now begin that process of engaging local persons while confirming the sponsors. KyStar will also continue to have camps throughout the Cayman Islands and will reach out to the Government to assist at the primary and secondary school level in track and field.
“So much work went into ensuring that this event was successful and it would not have been possible without the donations we received from corporate as well as Individual sponsors of which I say thanks to all who contributed monetary and of their time.
“I am forever thankful to Pearlina McGaw of Cayman Business Consulting, as well as the Cayman Islands Athletic Association and its president Dalton Watler for partnering with me.
“Further to our master of ceremonies Delroy Murray and Pastor Leslie Pinnock who delivered a thought-provoking prayer to all. The Olympians, Dr. Mills and Minister Scotland for taking time out of their busy schedules to accommodate us.
“The many faces of the CIAA are children and teenagers such as myself who had limited resources and I will continue to bring awareness of the cause and to assist wherever I can. As I make my transition from an Olympian I don’t ever want to take for granted my struggles as it made me the person I am and I’ll continue to use my experiences and resources to benefit our track athletes.”