Hurdlers will get hearts leaping

Organizers of the Cayman Invitational will present a star-studded lineup of international athletes at next week’s track and field meet.  

It takes place at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Wednesday, May 7, and third-time competitors Tiffany Williams of the United States, Nigeria’s Ajoke Odumosu and Jamaican representatives Ristananna Tracey and Shevon Stoddart are scheduled for the women’s 400 meters hurdles. 

Odumosu set the standard in 2012 with a winning mark of 55.09 seconds, but slipped to fifth last year. Williams went from runner-up to the top spot in 2013, bringing down the record to 55.04 seconds.  

Tracey jumped from sixth place in her first appearance to second last year and Stoddart has finished fourth in both previous outings. 

Meet director and international athlete Cydonie Mothersill-Stephens says the race is sure to have a tight finish.  

“Although any one of this formidable foursome could win, other possible show-stealing starters will include veteran Nickiesha Wilson from Jamaica,” she said. “Every one of the competitors in the event presents an impressive list of accomplishments.” 

Williams, from Miami, represented the Miami Northwest Express Club in her early competitive career.  

She won the South-Eastern Conference 400m hurdles three times and was also a 15-time All-American while attending the University of South Carolina. She was the United States champion in the event in 2007 and 2008 and was a finalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Her personal best is 53.28 seconds. 

Odumosu is the Nigerian national record holder in 54.40 seconds. She reached the semifinals at the London Olympics. She struck gold at the African Championships in 2008, the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the All-Africa Games in 2011. Odumosu was a standout for the University of South Alabama track squad. 

Lowering her time substantially to place second at last year’s Cayman Invitational, Tracey finished fifth at the World Junior Championships in 2010 and the following year she won the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships.  

At the Jamaica National Championships in 2011, her second place time of 54.50 seconds was the second-best all-time mark in the event at junior level. 

Stoddart is another stalwart representative of the University of South Carolina. She competed for Jamaica at the 2004 Athens Olympics while still in college and at the Beijing Games where she finished fourth.  

She won bronze at the CAC Games in 2005 and competed in the World Championships later that year. Her best mark for the 400m hurdles is 54.40 seconds. She is also an accomplished singer, songwriter and model. 

For Wilson, Cayman Invitational 2014 will be her first appearance at the event. She has enjoyed a distinguished career representing Jamaica all the way from CARIFTA up to the Olympics. She is acclaimed as the most prolific hurdler in NCAA history for her achievements in the 60m, 100m and 400m hurdles at Louisiana State University, where she won three NCAA titles and was named a 17-time All-American. At the 2010 Continental Cup, she defeated Odumosu. 

Sponsors so far this event include LIME and Cayman Airways (gold); Tower, DART, VTB, Puma, the Cayman Islands Government and Staatsolie (silver); and JN Money and the National Building Society (bronze). 

Tickets can be purchased from LIME in the Galleria Plaza, Funky Tangs on Shedden Road and JN Money located on Eastern Avenue, George Town. Ticket prices vary depending on location: $40 for the finish line, $35 for the grandstand and $25 for the Mackie Stadium. 

For more information, visit www.caymanislandsinviatational.com 

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The women’s 400m hurdles is sure to be a tightly contested race. – PHOTO: RON SHILLINGFORD