Special athletes raring to go

Cayman’s squad at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles has settled in after leaving the island on Tuesday, and the athletes are relishing the opportunity to compete. 

One of them is track and field specialist Matthew Ebanks who runs in the 400-meter and 800m events. He competed at the World Summer Games in Athens, Greece, four years ago. 

“The athletes want to thank everyone who has done everything for us,” Ebanks, 23, said. “We have done a lot of work and preparation has been awesome.” He did not medal in Athens, but said this time, “Hopefully, we can get a shot at that.” 

Susan Whittaker, an athletics coach on the trip, said the athletes are ready and are very excited, and she expects some to medal.  

“Matthew [Ebanks] is definitely one of the stars and a veteran of these Games,” Whittaker said. “If he prepares himself correctly, I definitely expect him to medal and do well.” 

Young sprinter Jazlyn Hydes, who is only 9, is in the 100m and 200m. She said she is “100 percent” confident of doing well because she is “fast and I can get first place or second place. It doesn’t matter if I win first place or second place.” 

The opening ceremony is on Saturday and the closing ceremony is on Aug. 2. 

A delegation of 55, including 28 Special Olympics athletes, are in the party. Cayman is competing in aquatics, basketball, bocce (Italian lawn bowling) and football. 

Swimmer Andrew Smilley is the athlete most expected to win at least one medal. He will compete in two events. 

Susan Whittaker

Susan Whittaker

Matthew Ebanks

Matthew Ebanks

Jazlyn Hydes

Jazlyn Hydes

Andrew Smilley

Andrew Smilley
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