Cayman residents remain pleased after an epic medal haul at the 2013 NatWest Island Games.
The Cayman Islands Island Games Association recently sent an official thank you letter to the Bermuda government and organizers behind the competition. The letter, which featured in the Bermuda press this month, made special mention of the Bermuda handlers responsible for the Cayman team during this summer’s event and praised the territory’s overall support for the tournament. By all accounts, Cayman’s sentiments were well received in Bermuda.
Carl Brown served as assistant general manager for the Cayman contingent and said local athletes received tangible support from Bermudans.
“The beauty of the games were how crowds engaged in cheering us on,” Brown said. “Bermudans would cheer for Cayman. They would complement the largest group of fans from Cayman that went to an Island Games, which was about 30 people.
“I must credit the local Island Games organizing committee for ensuring our accommodations were never a consideration. We were left to think only on who we were going to beat each day.
“I also credit their investment in sports. The Bermudans have been working on their 50 meter pool the last four years, their national stadium the last 25 years and all of that with a 40-year projection. They know how to use their land space before putting down money and they have put down a lot of money.”
Brown was joined by a cadre of officials – like general manager Victor Thompson and Cayman Islands Games Association President Richard Parchment – and dignitaries such as Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell and Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden.
All would witness Cayman claim 46 total medals: 20 gold, 19 silver and seven bronze to finish fourth among the competing countries. Those results are a first in Cayman’s history at the games. That medal tally would also double the total seen in 2011.
Most of the medals, 21, came from swimming, with the other top disciplines including track and field with 12 medals – half of which were gold – and squash, with all of its medals being gold. Other sports like beach volleyball, shooting and golf produced medals.
Among the top individual performers were swimming brothers Brett and Shaune Fraser, who won four individual medals apiece, were part of four medal-winning relay teams and set numerous Island Games records. Sprinter Ameilia Gillispie won three medals and javelin thrower Alex Pascal established a new Island Games record with his gold medal-winning toss.
Brown said Cayman went into the competition expecting great success.
“We set our goals and expectations usually bigger than the roughly 54,000 people we represent. We expected to exceed the 23 medals in Isle of Wight in 2011. We knew that we were going without a fully loaded gun, without representation in tennis, indoor men’s volleyball and basketball. Those three usually draw the biggest crowds and our guys have a presence, with tennis having huge expectations after winning three gold medals last time.
“While the European teams had less numbers, we knew we had to come good. Our disposition was we’d need a second plane to carry our medals home. We were sowing a seed among our officials as we landed and we went into business.”
The next Island Games are in 2015 in Jersey. Cayman will be expected to come close to the 40-medal mark in two years time. With recent added emphasis on sports tourism and youth development, especially in the Under-15 age group, Cayman could possibly tackle other disciplines like football.
Brown said local athletes figure to showcase a winning attitude in years to come.
“Cayman always dreams bigger than the norm, we’re never held back by other people’s expectations,” he said. “We had no reason to feel we didn’t belong at the medal table every time. In Bermuda, we knew we could overwhelm our opponents in the humidity because playing in the heat would be a factor. With all of that fire and heat, the final result had to be fine gold.
“That experience they earned has them in a position to be formidable in the next games. With that mind-set, we will fight our competition every time.”