Powery and Smith-Johnson chase Olympic dreams in Trinidad

A pair of local beach volleyball players are aspiring for an Olympic berth.

Chante Smith-Johnson and Ileann Powery left the Cayman Islands on Tuesday for Trinidad to compete in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games qualifiers. The Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation is staging the tournament this week at Maracas Bay, with Cayman scheduled to face pairs from the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname, U.S. Virgin Islands and Trinidad.

The competition is one of four regional qualifiers and only the winning male and female pairs will earn tickets to Nanjing, China next August. The runners-up will have another chance as there will be a competition next year for second-placed teams from all four tournaments and the top two pairs will also qualify for the Youth Olympics.

Cayman’s girls hope to emulate male tandem Rodell Fraseer and Delshun Welcome of St. Vincent and St. Lucian girls Dala Noel and Skye Mondesir, who booked their spots in the Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association zone during the first qualifier at Pigeon Point Beach in St. Lucia. It marked the first time St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be represented at any Olympic Games in a team sport.

The boys runners-up were Arden Elmes and Yahn Florent of Dominica and Alexander Augier and Andre Marquis of St. Lucia. For the girls, Jomelar Billy and Carsie Paul of Grenada and Natasha Best and Zenelle Edwards of Antigua and Barbuda had podium finishes.