The Cayman Islands is the envy of the track and field world this week because the fastest man and woman on the planet are competing here on Wednesday.
Usain Bolt and Carmelita Jeter hold a clutch of world championship and Olympic records and medals between them and their marvellous talent will be on display in their respective 100 metres races.
Bolt had to pull out of Saturday’s Jamaica Invitational because of a slight hamstring injury sustained in training a week ago but he is in Grand Cayman from Tuesday and set to run at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
The meet is organised by the Cayman Islands’ own Commonwealth Games gold medallist Cydonie Mothersill of KyStar Athletics.
The Cayman Invitational is fast becoming an important fixture in the annual calendar for the world’s leading track stars. Last year, world champ Yohan Blake, the second fastest man in the world, was the star performer here.
Bolt is extremely selective about where he runs, so this is a major coup for Cayman. It is his first 100m of the season as preparation for the world championships in Moscow, Russia in August.
Mothersill won the women’s 200m race at the inaugural Cayman Invitational, but she is opting out this time.
Bolt is obviously the biggest draw and the stadium in George Town will be packed to see one of the world’s most entertaining sportsmen in action.
The 26-year-old Jamaican burst onto the world scene with three golds, all in world record times, at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the first athlete to do so.
He defended all three Olympic titles at the London Olympics last year in his usual inimitable style.
He has been named IAAF Male Athlete of the Year four times and created the Usain Bolt Foundation, while also endorsing some of the world’s top commercial brands.
Jeter, who won silver and gold at the London Olympics last year, holds the fastest 100m time for any female athlete still competing.
Her personal best 10.64 seconds is bettered only by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner’s long-standing world record run of 10.49secs, set in 1987.
There are plenty of other Olympic and world championship medallists participating.
Some of Cayman’s top athletes will also be showcasing their talents. As was the case a year ago, more than 80 professional track and field stars are slated to compete.
One local athlete extremely impressed that Bolt is competing here is Ronald Forbes, the two-time Olympic sprint hurdler.
“I’m definitely excited that Bolt will be competing on Cayman soil,” Forbes said.
“It seems to be a long time coming. With a large Jamaican fan base locally , I’m sure the stands and parking lots are going to be packed.
“With Jeter and many other world class and Olympic champions competing I’m very pleased with the growing number and excited about all the buzz it is creating.
“For Bolt to be running in Cayman, it will be an exciting time in our country’s history. It’s not just the mere excitement surrounding the track and field part of it but sport in general.”
Of the other competitors, spectators will be treated to seeing Jamaican sprinter Kerron Stewart. who won silver in the 100m and bronze in 200m at the Beijing Olympics. Stewart was in the 100m relay team that won silver at the London Olympics.
Hansle Parchment won his first Olympic medal in 2012, earning bronze in the 110m hurdles, Jamaica’s first in that event. He also won the 110m race at the inaugural Cayman Invitational last year.
Chris “Fireman” Brown hails from the Bahamas. Brown anchored the Bahamas 4x400m relay to earn a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. He then won gold at the London Olympics in the 4x400m relay, marking the first Olympic men’s gold medal in any sport for the Bahamas.
Melaine Walker is a Jamaican 400m hurdler who took Olympic gold at the Beijing Olympics and set an Olympic record of 52.64 seconds. She too races at the Cayman Invitational.
London Olympics silver medallist Luguelin Santos is another top line athlete competing. Santos, 19, hails from the Dominican Republic who took 400m silver at the London Olympics last year.
Lashinda Demus – 2012 Olympic silver medallist in 400m hurdles –0 is confirmed for the event too.
Of the other Caymanian athletes competing, Kemar Hyman is the best known. He currently holds the national records for the 100m and 200m and has a personal best 100m time of 9.95 seconds. He competed in his first Olympics in London.
Other locals bound to add to the excitement include middle-distance runner Jon Rankin, long jumping twins Carl and Carlos Morgan and sprinter Tyrell Cuffy.
All in all, it will be an event everyone should want to bolt to!