Special Olympics athletes make Cayman proud

“In ancient Rome, the gladiators went into the arena with these words on their lips: ‘Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.’

“Today, all of you young athletes are in the arena. Many of you will win, but even more important, I know you will be brave, and bring credit to your parents and to your country. Let us begin the Olympics.”

With the utterance of those words, Eunice Kennedy Shriver opened the first Special Olympics games, held in 1968 in Chicago.

Yesterday, a delegation of 55 people departed the Cayman Islands for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, empowered by the legacy of Mrs. Shriver’s work and the spirit of her remarks.

This year, 28 athletes (supported by unified partners, coaches and others) will represent Cayman at the games, in areas such as aquatics/open water swim, athletics, basketball, bocce and football.

Televised on ESPN, the Summer Games kick off with an opening ceremony Saturday 8 p.m. Cayman time and run throughout the week, until the closing ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 2.

The Special Olympics athletes competing for Cayman include Orden (Kevin) Anglin, Albert Bodden, Kanza Bodden, Tyrese Brown, Tyler Castillo, Alec Cox, Devon Ebanks, Jaheim Ebanks, Mark Ebanks, Matthew Ebanks, Shaun Ebanks, Jharran Greenidge, Lizzie Hoptroff, Jazlyn Hydes, Anna Jackson, Kathryn Kleinworth-Whorms, Jomani Lee, Keanu McKenzie, Jordan McLean, Anechell Newman, Junior Peart, Andrew Smilley, Beaver (Julius) Smith, Mitchell (Mackie) Smith, Tessa Terry, Jamar Timothy, Cindy Whittaker and Hamish Wood.

While all of Cayman’s athletes have put in the hours of hard work, concentration and effort to prepare for the games, the star of Cayman’s team is Mr. Smilley, an accomplished swimmer who won gold in the 800 meter freestyle at the Special Olympics World Aquatics Invitational in Puerto Rico in September 2012, and also won gold in the 1,500 meter open water swim during the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens in 2011, in addition to accolades garnered in local competitions and races.

Mr. Smilley has captured the attention of ESPN producers, who sent a crew to Cayman last December to film and interview the Caymanian athlete as one of 40 “Up Close and Personal” segments about athletes at the Special Olympics games. A one-minute video of Mr. Smilley is already on the ESPN.com website, and his profile will be aired on ESPN during the opening ceremony or the nightly show “Special Olympics World Games LA 2015.”

In addition to the official delegation, several dozen family members, fans and guests will also travel to California to cheer on Cayman’s team from the stands of first-class venues, including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, University of Southern California’s Uytengsu Aquatics Center, USC’s Loker Stadium/Cromwell Field, USC’s Galen Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center. Open water swimming will be held at Alamitos Beach in Long Beach.

The sponsors of this year’s Special Olympics team also merit recognition, including the Flowers Sea Swim, Deputy Governor’s 5K, Butterfield/Grand Cayman Beach Suites Irish Jog, Cayman 27, Maples, Deutsche Bank, Harneys, Cayman National Bank, Foster’s Food Fair, Cayman Water Company, Carey Olsen, Wendy’s, AL Thompson, CITCO, Kirk Motors, Global Captive Management, CIBC Trust, Mourant Ozannes, Water Authority, IMS Ltd. and Queensgate.

To our athletes in Los Angeles, know that we back home in Cayman are proud of you. We trust that you, through your actions on and off the fields of competition, will bring further credit to your families and your country.