Youth stars set for Samoa Games

The Cayman Islands national team that will compete at the Samoa 2015 V Commonwealth Youth Games has been announced by the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee and Commonwealth Games Association. 

The Games run from Sept. 7-11 and Cayman will be represented by 18 athletes in athletics, boxing, rugby 7s and swimming. 

Up to 1,000 Commonwealth athletes ages 14 to 18 will represent their country and compete for 107 gold medals in nine sports at the fifth Commonwealth Youth Games. 

The Commonwealth Youth Games has launched the international careers of competitors such as Kirani James (athletics), Beth Tweddle (gymnastics), Chad le Clos (aquatics) and Caster Semenya (athletics). 

In athletics, the Cayman team is composed of Jamal Walton, Lacee Barnes and Daneliz Thomas. The lone boxer is Hopkin Ebanks. 

The rugby 7s male squad includes Piers Davies, Michael Matthews, Alexander Thompson, Jack Tonge, Liam Kay, Maurice Rockett-McLaughlin, Shakur Welcome, Cameron Bridgeman, Dylan Bostock, Alex Robertson, Aaron Hersant and Daniel Smith. 

The swimmers are Catriona MacRae and Lauren Hew. 

Most of these athletes will be competing at a major Games for the first time. There are a few who have been to senior major Games, like Lauren Hew, who was a semifinalist in the Commonwealth Glasgow Games last year in the 50m and 100m backstroke at age 15. 

Hew is going to a youth event benefiting from another year’s experience, and the selectors are excited to see how she fares against very strong competition. 

Jamal Walton was supposed to compete in the 400m at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing last year, but an unfortunate injury weeks before the Games sidelined him. 

Walton is well known for beating Usain Bolt’s 400m record with a time of 47.33 seconds at age 15. 

Walton placed fourth at the IAAF World Junior Championships last month with a personal best of 45.99 seconds. He is eager to fight for a medal, having missed his chance at the Youth Olympic Games a year ago. 

The rugby 7s team will not only be representing Cayman in the sport, but also the entire Pan American Zone. They will be up against some of the best teams in the world. 

All the athletes stay in athletes’ village-style accommodation, giving many competitors their first taste of an international multisport environment. Off the field, the Youth Games nurtures the next generation of international competitors by focusing on friendship, integrity and cross-Commonwealth inter-cultural exchange. 

They will be learning and living the Commonwealth Games Federation’s values of humanity, equality and destiny. 

The Cayman Islands team leaves on Sept. 1 and returns on Sept. 14. The entire team will attend the opening and closing ceremonies on Sept. 5 and 11, respectively. 

Jamal Walton expects a 400m medal. - PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD

Jamal Walton expects a 400m medal. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD

Lacee Barnes is a discus specialist.

Lacee Barnes is a discus specialist.