Sprinters launch off our shores

After competing in the Cayman Islands, some of the world’s top track stars will target the Far East. 

Most of the visiting sprinters at the third annual Cayman Invitational athletics meet say they will be gearing up for the 2014 Shanghai International Association of Athletics Federations Diamond League meet on May 18. The race is celebrating its 10th year as China’s premier track and field event and will feature two-time 100 meter Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica.  

For the likes of Jamaican sprint queen Veronica Campbell-Brown, events like the Cayman spectacle – organized by local track legend Cydonie Mothersill-Stephens – represent a chance to improve track times. 

“I’m here for Cydonie, it fits into my schedule,” Campbell-Brown said. “It’s my first outdoor meet since the world championships and it has been ups and downs having tightness with my calves and hamstrings. I definitely want to get a better time, get better in the 100m. There’s always something to be striving for in training, no matter whether it’s a championship year or not.” 

American starlet Allyson Felix says her aim is to build up towards the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

“We all love Cydonie, she’s a great example to the sport,” Felix said. “I had soreness and tightness with my hamstrings so I’m being safe and cautious with that. I’m being cautious in my races, if my coach pulls me from a race then that’s the case. The goal now is having a healthy year and building up towards the Olympic Games.” 

The Shanghai race is one of numerous stops on the Diamond League calendar, with meets happening in locales like Eugene, Oregon on May 31 and Oslo, Norway on June 11. Between that competition and the Olympics, athletes will also be targeting the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China next August. 

As Kim Collins of St. Kitts and Nevis points out, there is no long rest period for the world’s top sprinters. 

“There’s no offseason, whichever race you can go to every thought is to beat whoever is out there,” Collins said. “I’m going to Shanghai, Oslo, Beijing and no matter where you’re at, it’s about how fast you can go. I’ve been putting in the work, working on different parts of the race. We’ve been putting different information into training and seeing what works and it’s been going great. I think the good thing is each year I learn something new. You learn something better and you say, ‘wow, I need this.’ It’s been working in my favor.” 

Collins was one of many athletes familiar with running at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. Among the others were 110m hurdler and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Hansle Parchment and 400m sprinter and three-time Olympic bronze medalist Novlene Williams-Mills – both of Jamaica. 

For Williams-Mills, competing in Caribbean countries like Cayman is a welcome part of the race schedule. 

“Cydonie is always there for me and it was a great opportunity to support her,” Williams-Mills said. “For me, it’s always great when you can get to show the people that support you so many times – that can’t come to Jamaica sometimes or go somewhere else to see you compete – just to be in front of them and just to interact with them, it’s always great.” 

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Murielle Ahoure, Novlene Williams-Mills, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Dawn Harper and Allyson Felix headlined the Cayman Invitational. – PHOTOS: MATTHEW YATES

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Cydonie Mothersill-Stephens, second from left, has enjoyed the support of athletes like Kim Collins, Tyrell Cuffy and Ronald Forbes.
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