Teenage runner Jamal Walton has set his sights on future Olympic glory after winning a silver medal for the Cayman Islands at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa.
The 17-year-old clocked an impressive time of 46.46 seconds to become the first Caymanian to medal at the games.
The 400-meter runner said he was pleased with his performance after resuming training only three weeks ago, following a minor injury.
“I felt short as I wanted to come away with the win, but felt good that I was getting a silver medal,” he said. The youngster, who also won gold at the Junior Pan American Games in Edmonton, Canada, and is ranked fifth in the world for his age group, hopes to go on to make a career in athletics and compete for Cayman in the Olympics.
Sprinter Cydonie Mothersill, who won Commonwealth gold in the 200m in 2010, and is with Cayman’s athletes in Samoa, predicted a big future for Walton. She said the country needs to unite and give him the support he needs to succeed.
“Jamal is a talented individual and he is poised for great things,” she said.
“The possibilities are endless. He is such a fighter and a fierce competitor, he gives his all whenever he competes, be it a relay or his individual race.”
She said she hopes Walton’s success will motivate younger athletes.
“I think it’s a tremendous accomplishment for the Cayman Islands to secure a medal at these Games. It’s not just a major accomplishment for the Cayman Islands, but athletics as well,” she added.
Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden said the medal capped a magnificent season for Walton and pledged to continue supporting his progress. The Cayman Islands Athletics Association added its congratulations, hailing Walton as an ambassador for the islands in a statement Thursday. They also praised Daneliz Thomas and Lacee Barnes for their performances in Samoa.
Thomas just missed out on a medal in the javelin, finishing fourth with a throw of 39.79 meters.
“I was excited about representing my country at these Games,” she said. “I wanted a medal, but it was not to be. However, it has motivated me to train harder for the 2016 season.”
Barnes, competing in the shot put and discus, finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
She said she was disappointed in her performance but motivated to work hard in the 2016 season.
“The Commonwealth Games in Samoa was exotic. It’s a beautiful island and the people were all very nice,” she added.
Cayman was also competing in swimming, boxing and rugby sevens at the Games, which conclude Friday. Full results were not available at press time.