This past weekend, 15-year-old Cayman Islands sprinter Jamal Walton was – shattering a 400-meter record set by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt back when he was a youngster.
Walton’s feat occurred at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships in Morelia, Mexico, where he also competed in the 200m sprint.
Bolt, the reigning world record holder at both the 100m and 200m distances, is now considered at age 27 to be not only the “World’s Fastest Man” but the “world’s fastest man, ever.”
To put it neatly, anytime you see someone posting a better time than Bolt, at any age and in any event, it’s a head-turning, eye-popping, stand-up-and-cheer achievement, worthy of our national congratulations.
What’s even more amazing is that this isn’t the first time Walton has beaten Bolt this year. In April, the Caymanian bested Bolt’s Under-17 mark in the 400m during the CARIFTA Track and Field Championships in Martinique.
From April to July, Walton lowered his personal best time at 400m from 47.28 seconds in Martinique to 47.01 seconds in Mexico.
Walton, who is already Cayman’s 400m sprint record holder in both the youth and adult age brackets, has once again represented himself admirably and done his country proud.
Born in Grand Cayman, Walton now lives with his family in Florida, where he competes with the Miami Gardens Xpress Track & Field Club.
Coming up, Walton is scheduled to represent Cayman at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon, from July 22 to 27. In August, Walton will head to China to compete in the Youth Olympic Games for Cayman.
The future looks bright for Walton, who is ranked fourth in the world among Under-18 400m runners, behind three boys who are slightly older.
While Walton is in Oregon, Cayman will also be sending a team to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland, which takes place from July 23 to Aug. 3 and involves 70 teams from territories, states and nations associated with the former British Empire. In total, Cayman will have 27 athletes competing in seven sports – athletics (i.e. track and field), boxing, cycling, gymnastics, shooting, squash and swimming.)
Unfortunately, the extremely promising javelin thrower Alex Pascal, a 19-year-old University of Missouri student who set Cayman’s national record in the event last year, has been forced to withdraw from competition due to injury.
Cayman athletes to watch in Scotland include bantamweight boxer Tafari Ebanks, who at 19 is the captain of the national boxing team. Ebanks has participated in intensive training courses in Sweden and has lately been squaring off in the ring against rivals from Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica and Bahamas, in preparation for the Commonwealth Games, which for him is a road marker on the way to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Cayman’s best chances to medal may come from the six-member contingent of swimmers, including Olympian Brett Fraser and Lara Butler, holder of multiple Cayman national records.
Other London 2012 Olympians going to Scotland to compete include sprinter Kemar Hyman and hurdler Ronald Forbes.
Cayman debuted at the Commonwealth Games in 1979 and has earned two medals – a bronze in the men’s high jump for Kareem Streete-Thompson in 2002 and a gold in the women’s 200m for Cydonie Mothersille-Stephens in 2010.
Cayman has a fair shot at adding to that medal count this year and, with a bit of good fortune, could bring home multiple medals.
Results aside, the real honors that Caymanian athletes are accruing for their country are won through their dedication, work ethic and model behavior as representatives not just of Cayman’s sporting community, but of everyone back home who is rooting for them to succeed.