Tafari Ebanks gave a memorable showing for Cayman Islands boxing in Glasgow and came closest so far to getting a medal for his country.
Ebanks reached the quarterfinals of the bantamweights (56 kilos) at the XX Commonwealth Games in Scotland but lost by unanimous decision on Wednesday to Kenyan Benson Njangiru, with each of the three judges scoring 29-28 in favor of the African. Had he won, Ebanks would have got at least a bronze in the semis.
The West Bayer started slowly, as Njangiru, 29, won the first two rounds by scores of 10-9 each time, before winning the final three-minute round 10-9.
Ebanks, 20, said the fight did not show him at his best. “It went extremely well but my performance wasn’t up to standard to how I wanted to make it,” Ebanks said.
“It was a really close fight. I lost but I know I could have done better within myself. I got a lot to think about.”
Ebanks got a first round bye in the competition before beating Henry Umings, 20, of Papua New Guinea.
Ebanks stopped the African by technical knockout 33 seconds into the second round.
Cayman’s national boxing coach, Norman Wilson, was in Ebanks’s corner for both fights. Wilson said the quarterfinal loss was a result of Ebanks not having enough heart.
“As the fight was going on, for some reason, I saw him a little lackadaisical,” Wilson said.
“I told him he wasn’t in the fight in the first round. You have to win the first round. You have to because that sparks the judges. When the judges see you owning it, that sparks them.
“He got hit with some shots that he isn’t supposed to get hit with. I told him when came to the corner, ‘you’re not in the fight, where are you?’
“Then he picked it up a little bit in the second but not enough. He took the last round, but that isn’t good enough.”
He added, “It’s him. See, if you know how to do everything and get in the ring and don’t do it, we can’t say it’s your jab or your guard; it’s you. You have to have that desire to be able to say, ‘I’m going to win.’ You got to know how to win. Winning isn’t just getting in the ring, looking pretty, moving pretty. You got to fight.”
A number of Cayman athletes also wrapped up their sojourn in Scotland. Gymnast Bethany Dikau, 17, finished 37th out of 40 athletes in the artistic gymnastics event.
For the floor segment, Dikau had a score of 10.766 points and registered 11 points in the vault, 7.666 points in the uneven bars and 9.466 points on the balance beam for an all-around score of 38.898. Each apparatus carried a maximum of 15 points, with 60 points being the overall top score.
Dikau, the first gymnast in Cayman’s history to compete at the Games, said she battled her nerves.
“I was definitely nervous but I was more excited so I had a lot more energy,” Dikau said. “I think that overtook my nervousness. I just took it skill by skill and then after I was done, I was relieved that I was done. But it went well so it was exciting.”
On the track, most of Cayman’s athletes failed to advance beyond the preliminary stages.
Hurdler Ronald Forbes was fifth in his 110m hurdles heat, posting a time of 13.89 seconds. Ashleigh Nalty finished 11th in her high jump group with a leap of 1.71m – her best of the season.
Carlos Morgan was eighth in group A of the long jump with a leap of 7.41m. Twin brother Carl Morgan was 11th in group B of the long jump with 6.99m.
Tyrell Cuffy finished fifth in heat seven of the 200m in 21.75 seconds. David Hamil placed seventh in heat nine of the 200m in 22.02 seconds.
Earlier in the week, sprinter Kemar Hyman offered a bright spot by advancing to the semis of the 100m. He placed sixth in his heat in 10.31 seconds. He previously won his preliminary race in 10.20 seconds.
Off the track, the shooting team wrapped up its Scotland performance. Chris Jackson, 47, was 20th in round one of the trap event, nailing 42 out of 50 clay targets. In round two, he placed 29th after hitting 55 out of 75 targets.
On the squash courts, the doubles event went into its second day on Wednesday. On the men’s side, Julian Jervis and Myron Blair started out by losing to India before beating Uganda.
For the mixed doubles, Cameron Stafford and Marlene West lost to Australia before beating Zambia while Daniel Murphy and Eilidh Bridgeman lost to Malaysia before beating Papua New Guinea.