Cayman Islands track aces Kemar Hyman and Ronald Forbes are in Beijing preparing to compete at the world championships which start this weekend.
Sprinter Hyman is in the 100-meter heats on Saturday, and if he gets through will be in the semis on Sunday and possibly the finals that evening.
Forbes, a 110m hurdles specialist, is not in action until Wednesday when the heats are scheduled. The semifinals are on Thursday and the finals the following day.
Both athletes have had some excellent times in their respective events this year. Hyman recorded a wind-assisted 9.85 seconds a couple of weeks ago, but because the wind factor was over 2 meters per second, it was not ratified. His Cayman national 100m record is 9.95 seconds, set a month before the London 2012 Olympics. Hyman qualified for the semifinals in London but did not run because of injury.
He is 26 in October, at his peak and in his best form since 2012. Hyman hopes to qualify for the finals and be challenging for medals alongside Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin, the race favorites who have the best times this year.
Coach Tyrone Yen helped nurture the talent of Hyman and Forbes in their formative years in Cayman. He has seen them develop from promising schoolboys to world-class athletes.
Yen said Hyman’s recent fast time, although wind-assisted, was “nevertheless a good confidence booster.” He added that Hyman has missed out on reaching the later stages at major tournaments by split seconds, and because the 100m is so technical, “if he can put his race plan together, [doesn’t] panic and execute[s], I definitely see him making the semifinals at least.”
Yen added, “Kemar just has to take one round at a time and not put too much pressure on himself to get to the final.”
As for Forbes, Yen believes he too can get to at least the semifinals on current form. Nerves should not be too much of a problem as Forbes has been to two Olympic Games and has attended indoor world championships as well as outdoors. He is used to the big occasion.
Forbes has been in sparkling form recently too, having overcome many injury setbacks in recent years.
As recently as six weeks ago he ran his 110m hurdles personal best of 13.47 seconds at a meet in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
This came after an excellent showing at the Cayman Invitational in May and winning the Island Games sprint hurdles a few days before his fast time in Switzerland.
Forbes, 30, has not done himself justice in previous major championships and looks set to break that sequence this time.
The world championships is the third-largest sporting event in the world after the football World Cup and the Olympics.
It involves around 2,000 athletes from more than 200 nations competing for 47 gold medals. These world championships were first held in Helsinki in 1983 and initially staged every four years. It proved so successful that since 1991 it has been staged biennially, usually in August.