Samoa Games emphasized unity

The Cayman Islands Olympic Committee is pleased with how well the athletes competed at the Samoa 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games last week. 

The team brought back its first CYG medal. Jamal Walton ran an impressive 46.46 seconds in the 400 meters to earn a silver medal even though he was a bit under the weather. 

“I felt great about the event, but I felt a bit sick so it affected my breathing,” Walton said. “I had to fight more to gain the pace I usually would have had, but I’m still excited to win the silver.” 

His teammate Daneliz Thomas placed fourth overall in the javelin with a distance of 39.3 meters, and Lacee Barnes threw 13.68m in the shot put for a solid seventh place. 

Team manager Cydonie Mothersill, Cayman’s five-time Olympian, is very excited for their future. 

“Considering the season was finished, I think the kids had a great performance,” she said. 

“There is a lot more we can expect from them in the future, but for being this time of the year I was very pleased. The experience has been great for them. They liked being around different cultures and meeting new people.” 

Hopkin Ebanks fought a great fight, but lost by unanimous decision against his opponent from the Seychelles. 

“This was my first fight in a major international Games, and I got a great experience,” he said. “I have learned from the mistakes I made and now I know how to not make them again. I think it was a really close fight, so I think in the next fight it will make a big difference.” 

Lauren Hew swam 33.36 seconds in the girls 50m backstroke, and Catriona MacRae’s swim time was 33.73 seconds. Both also competed in the girls 100m backstroke, with times of 1:10.06 and 1:12.22, respectively. 

MacRae also placed eighth in the girls 400 individual medley and pushed for 12th in the 400m freestyle with a time of 4:45.89. 

They have had a busy summer of events and were overwhelmed with the experience of the CYG. 

“I don’t think I have been swimming as well as I can, but it has been a long summer so I knew it would be tough. I am staying positive about it and enjoying the experience,” said Hew. 

Up against a series of strong teams, the rugby boys put in a great effort against Fiji (0-44), Australia (0-66), Samoa (0-75) and Namibia (0-24). 

The national teams for these countries are ranked 9th, 2nd, 12th, and 20th worldwide, so the experience for Cayman, currently ranked 60th, was phenomenal. 

Rugby captain Cameron Bridgeman is proud of his teammates and their enthusiasm. 

“I think the team has improved massively since we have left Cayman,” he said. “We were all very excited to get in front of the crowd and we played our hearts out.” 

Team manager Richard “Grizz” Adams was pleased by the boys’ performance and the attitude they brought to the Games. 

“It’s been an unbelievable week,” he said. “The progress of the guys has been superb. I don’t think I have ever seen such a drastic improvement in their attitude, commitment and excitement to play. When we first arrived, I told them:, you are not representing the Cayman Islands, you are the Cayman Islands. 

“I told them to make friends and engage in the community, and I think they have done that fantastically. They get along well with all of the Cayman Islands athletes and were eager to support them.” 

Chef de Mission Trent Christie is proud to have led the team as the Games. 

“The Games went very well,” he said. “The most important aspect of the Games for me, however, has been the relationships and camaraderie the athletes have built with one another. 

“Every athlete and official from Cayman was at Jamal’s 400m final and Hopkin’s fight. All athletes have mingled and made friendships with one another and they probably would have never known each other had it not been for this event. 

“I am very excited about the medal but more excited about how close the athletes have gotten in our time here.” 

The CIOC thanked their sponsors, fundraising committee and international partners – the Commonwealth Games Federation and the International Olympic Committee – for financial assistance which allowed the athletes this opportunity. 

Hopkin Ebanks learned from the experience.
Hopkin Ebanks learned from the experience.

Lauren Hew swam impressively.

Lauren Hew swam impressively.

Lacee Barnes came seventh

Lacee Barnes came seventh

Jamal Walton ran brilliantly for his silver. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD

Jamal Walton ran brilliantly for his silver. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD