The announcement that the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, plans to compete in the Cayman Invitational track meet is a coup for our country and meet organizer Cydonie Mothersill, who is the queen of track and field in the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Bolt, who owns the world records in the 100m and 200m sprints, as well as a collection of Olympic gold medals, is rightfully taking top billing as the star of the event. But just on the Jamaican’s heels, in terms of drawing publicity, are two Americans — Allyson Felix (200m gold medalist in the 2012 Olympic Games) and Carmelita Jeter (100m silver in 2012).
The event will be Mr. Bolt’s first event during this Olympic year, and possibly one of the final times he will compete professionally in his sterling career.
“I always enjoy competing in the Caribbean and look forward to meeting my fans in Cayman,” Mr. Bolt said.
“Grand Cayman is one of my favorite islands to visit,” Ms. Felix said.
During his first competition here in the 2013 Cayman Invitational, Mr. Bolt barely eked out a win over fellow Jamaican Kemar Bailey-Cole, who along with Caymanian Kemar Hyman will be challenging Mr. Bolt again in the 100m. But no matter which athletes end up on the podium, the primary victor is Cayman. As they say, “the house” — or in this case, “the host” — always wins.
This is a major event for Cayman. The news of the trio’s participation was announced by the International Association of Athletics Federations (the world’s track organization) and was picked up immediately by major media outlets such as Sports Illustrated.
The meet itself, which will take place on May 14, will be televised on ESPN, meaning our country will be broadcast in a positive light to an audience of millions of people internationally.
In addition to the “big three” we mention above, a bevy of other world-class athletes will descend upon Grand Cayman for the event, bringing their entourages and fans (and their wallets), which will result in a welcome boost to our tourism industry.
Although the niche industry of “sports tourism” has taken a hit in Cayman since the, ahem, “unfortunate” case of FIFA’s Jeffrey Webb and the subsequent loss of regional football tournaments, it still represents a promising growth opportunity for our country.
Non-economically speaking, the Cayman Invitational will provide a chance for our local athletes — including Mr. Hyman, Ronald Forbes, Tyrell Cuffy, Dominic Dyer and Lacee Barnes — to compete against the best in the world and, for some, to prepare to represent our country in the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
All in all, it’s just the kind of authentically good news that Cayman needs, amid the negative attention being brought to bear by the “Panama Papers” and the resulting backlash against the world’s offshore financial industry.
Well done, Ms. Mothersill. Well done, indeed.
Although Ms. Mothersill carved out an impressive career for herself on the track, with the highlight being her gold-medal performance in the 200m at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India, it looks like the Cayman Invitational meet may become her true legacy in her thankful country.