Athletics hopes to reach former glory for the Cayman Islands in Scotland.
Four years ago, Cayman track and field legend Cydonie Mothersill-Stephens won Cayman’s first and only gold medal at the 2010 Games in Delhi, India. Cayman now looks to Tyrell Cuffy, Ronald Forbes, David Hamil, Kemar Hyman, Troy Long, Carl Morgan, Carlos Morgan and Ashleigh Nalty to claim another medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The competition runs from July 23 to Aug. 3 and features Cuffy running the 100 meters and 4x100m relay, Forbes in the 110m hurdles, Hamil in the 200m and 4x100m, Hyman in the 100m and 4x100m, Long in the 200m and 4x100m, the Morgan twins in the long jump and Nalty in the women’s high jump.
Of the group, Hyman is in the best form, having won four international meets this month, with the last one featuring a victory over former 100m world-record-holder Asafa Powell. Hyman, 24, says his plan for Scotland is to be consistent.
“My routine between now and the Games is a lot of speed endurance with short sprints,” Hyman said. “I’m injury free and my goal is to run consistent and fast. If everything plays through at the right time, we will see a great performance in my races.”
Hyman’s victories have been all over Europe, with wins in Slovenia, Brussels, Ireland and Switzerland. He has steadily run under 10.25 seconds, with his fastest time being a season-best 10.05 seconds. Among those supporting Hyman is his coach, Ken Harnden.
The Cayman Islands Olympic Committee put together the athletics team and said in a statement that Hyman should be considered a medal favorite. The statement reads, “Hyman’s preparation for every competition has been very technical and every part of his running phase matters. His coach is well aware of what Hyman’s true potential can be leading up to a race. His determination now is nothing like before, and if he stays focused, not only will he be one of the top contenders but also he will be the favorite to win.”
In total, the Olympic Committee is sending 26 athletes – marking Cayman’s biggest Commonwealth Games team ever – to compete in Glasgow. Aside from athletics, they will compete in six disciplines – boxing, cycling, gymnastics, shooting, squash and swimming.
While Hyman hopes to continue current form, Carl Morgan and Forbes want to make amends for prior performances. Carl Morgan was 14th in the long jump in 2010 while Forbes was a finalist in the 110m hurdles and placed sixth in India. Carl Morgan, 27, says he intends to excel in spite of an injured hip.
“I will train, travel and compete in meets that will help me best prepare for these Games,” Morgan said. “I will spend time home in Grand Cayman and in Atlanta, Georgia. Am I injury free? Yes and No. I plan to be at 100 percent healthy during the Games but I am currently treating a left hip flexor strain.
“My first goal is to qualify for the long jump finals that I unfortunately missed by one spot last time. When in the finals, I hope to finish in the top three, a medal position. I also plan to witness to the competitors and officials about the truth, grace, mercy and saving love of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Injuries are nothing new for Forbes, 29, as he has experienced more than his fair share. The North Side legend says his focus is not solely on his health, but on producing a better result.
“My goal for Glasgow is to be back in the final round once again and win,” Forbes said. “My routine between now and the Games is to manage my diet, health and improve on all errors in my disciplines in order to have the best performance possible on every race day. The biggest influence on my athletic career is my past mistakes and my dreams of future major achievements.”
Aside from past Commonwealth performances, one theme for local track stars is replicating the success of the 2013 Island Games in Bermuda. Athletics produced 12 medals – half of which were gold. Long was part of that squad, earning bronze in the 200m, and says after that showing, “my goal is to win gold medals.”
It should be noted that injuries did reduce the number of track stars going to Scotland. Javelin thrower Alex Pascal, 19, had been selected for the team but was forced to withdraw as he is recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right ulnar collateral ligament that he damaged during training, and he also strained muscles in his forearm. Sprinter Rhymiech Adolphus was also selected and slated to run the 100m, 200m and 4x100m events but is now unable to attend.
Technical director for track and field in Cayman, Kenrick Williams, will be among the officials making the Scotland trip. Williams, 62, says he had been working on minimizing the amount of injuries within the track camp.
“I wanted to ensure that all athletes are injury-free, training hard and competition-ready for the Games,” Williams said. “My goal is to prepare the athletes to perform at their optimum.” Regardless of the history of success, the current form of the athletes and their health, athletics has a group that comes off as eager yet collected. For Cuffy, who will join Hyman as the first sprinters in action from 2:37 p.m. Scotland time or 10:37 a.m. Cayman time on July 27 in the 100m heats, the excitement is palpable.
“I’m eating right and training hard,” Cuffy said. “I’m injury-free and my goal is to make the finals!”