Cayman Islands athletes are returning triumphant from another successful Island Games after winning 33 medals, including 14 gold, in Jersey last week.
Cayman’s swimmers won the most medals for the team – 14 in all. The track and field athletes brought home 10 medals, the shooters eight, and the women’s beach volleyball pairing of Stefania Gandolfi and Jessica Wolfenden took gold.
Olympic swimmers Shaune and Brett Fraser excelled in the pool, as did Lara Butler. Shaune Fraser won five medals, including three gold and two silver, while brother Brett won three – two golds and a silver. Butler won four medals, including three silver and a bronze.
Ronald Forbes found his form again to win gold in the men’s 110 meter hurdles. Lacee Barnes won gold in the shot put and silver in the discus, while fellow teenager Daneliz Thomas took gold in the javelin competition.
Of the shooters – who all did exceptionally well – Christopher Jackson and Andrew McBean were outstanding. Jackson was the sole medalist on Friday, the last day of competition, taking gold in the Universal Trap. Jackson also took bronze in the Automatic Ball Trap individual round. McBean won gold in the IPSC standard division and silver in the IPSC open division, while Michaela Pultr took silver in the ISSF 25 meter sport pistol competition. The Cayman Islands also won three other medals in team shooting events.
Also taking gold, in javelin, was Alex Pascal. Karim Murray won bronze in the men’s 200m; Tahj Lewis took bronze in the men’s 800m and Ashley Natly took bronze in the women’s high jump.
One of the best achievements by a Cayman athlete was sprinter Tyrell Cuffy’s double gold in the 100m and 200m. It was particularly satisfying for the 26-year-old speedster who is coached by Cayman’s technical director of track and field Kenrick Williams because Cuffy has endured injury and loss of form for years.
Winning both events gave him “the biggest sigh of relief,” Cuffy said. “I knew I had what it took to get both golds, it was just up to me to execute properly and run my own race.”
He added that the 200m, won in 21.24 seconds, was definitely more pleasing because it’s his better event. His 100m time was 10.73 seconds.
“Leading up to the Island Games, my training was specifically set up for me to run a quick curve and just use my form to take me home,” he said. “This was only my second 200m for the season so I was pretty pleased with the time.”
Cuffy was hoping to go under 21 seconds. “It would have been fantastic because it would have been an Island Games record, but I guess I’ll have to save that for 2017 Island Games, which should be held in Gotland [Sweden].”
Cuffy said the overall organization and atmosphere in Jersey was “amazing,” adding, “My teammates were always there to support me and each other in our events.
“Our manager Barbara Wilson and coach Kenrick Williams ensured that we were always hydrated, properly fed and our bodies were feeling 100 percent before every race.”
This was Cuffy’s first Island Games and he was very impressed with the organization of the transportation to and from events. “Plus the people in Jersey are incredibly nice,” he said. “The entire Cayman delegation stayed at the same hotel, so it was also a great feeling to see other participants and hear how they did in their sport.”
The double victory has given him a huge boost after some outstanding times when he was a teenager led everyone to believe he would quickly develop into a world-class athlete. It could happen now.
“It’s been a rough few years trying to find my stride again, but after securing both goal medals, I’m confident that I can push forward now and become the athlete that I picture in my dreams every single night.”
For the rest of the summer, he will do a lot of preparation for big meets. The Olympics is coming up next year in Rio de Janeiro, so throughout the next few months Cuffy plans to sit with coach Williams and work out the perfect program that will prepare him for the 2016 Games.
“I haven’t qualified for an Olympic Games before so I’m definitely aiming for this one. I’m getting to that age where my body is functioning at top form, so I have to definitely take advantage of that. It would be a dream to come through to make an Olympic finals, which is my main goal.”
Despite the setbacks, Cuffy said there has never been a time in the past couple of years when he considered quitting.
The Cayman team was scheduled to return to Grand Cayman on Monday afternoon.