Five Cayman athletes ready for Rio

Olympic team selected

Cayman-to-Rio-2016Swimming siblings Geoffrey and Lara Butler have been selected to represent the Cayman Islands at the Summer Olympics, rounding out a five-athlete team that will compete in Rio de Janeiro next month on the biggest stage in sport.

Also traveling to Brazil will be sprinter Kemar Hyman, hurdler Ronald Forbes, both veterans of the London 2012 Games, and sailor Florence Allan.

The Cayman Islands Olympic Committee was to host a send-off for the athletes at the George Town Yacht Club on Tuesday night – the last time all five will be in Cayman at the same time before the Games.

Track stars Hyman, who has previously broken the 10-second barrier in the sprint, and Forbes, who broke the national record in the 110m hurdles earlier this year, both train in the U.S. and represent the islands’ best chance of making a semifinal or final.

The pair met the qualifying standard well in advance and have been building up to Rio for the past year.

The Butler siblings did not find out they were on the team until this week.

“It felt great. I had almost stopped thinking we were going to go. It was a great shock really,” said Mr. Butler, who will compete in the 400 meter freestyle.

Mr. Butler, 20, who won gold at the Island Games and the Carifta Games, acknowledged it was a big step up.

“It is the pinnacle of sport. I feel really good in the water right now, but I am not really expecting to make a final or semifinal. I just want to go out there and swim the best time I can and enjoy it.

“It will be great to have my sister with me. I have done every competition with Lara. We are like best friends. We hoped we would go to the Olympics together, but we had no idea whether it would happen.” Ms. Butler, 21, who will compete in the 100m backstroke, said the pair will fly to Tampa on Wednesday to train in an Olympic-size pool.

She said she had initially hoped to be selected, but had almost given up as the Games approached and she had not heard.

“It was a big shock in the end. It is really overwhelming,” she said.

“This is what everything else leads up to. The Olympics is the be-all and end-all for swimming.”

Florence Allan has had a little more time to prepare. The 18-year-old sailor was selected to compete in the Women’s Laser Radial one-person dinghy event, and has already been to Rio to train.

“I am not too sure on how well I will do at the Games, since I’ve never competed at that level before,” she said. “My only hope is that I am happy and proud of the effort and I have no regrets walking out of the regatta. I cannot put into words how exciting it is to be competing at the Olympics. I cannot wait to hold that Cayman flag high and proud.”

Asked about his chances in Rio, during the Cayman Invitational event here in May, Mr. Hyman said he was hoping for big things.

“I got to the semifinals last time, so I’m looking for the finals this time,” he said. Forbes, speaking in May after he broke his own national record in Florida, said he dreamed of achieving a medal in Rio, but his primary goal is another personal best.

“To me, there is no greater feeling than crossing the finish line and seeing that personal best. It means you’ve pushed yourself to a goal you never thought you could. If you keep running your personal best, eventually you will get to a medal, and you hope that your best is worthy of a gold.”

Neither Mr. Hyman or Mr. Forbes was available for comment on Tuesday.

The athletes will be accompanied in Rio by nine officials, as well as Cayman Islands Olympic Committee President Donald McLean and Vice President Carson Ebanks. The opening ceremony takes place in the Maracana Stadium on Aug. 5.

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  1. Congratulations to all these standouts, a just reward for all their efforts over many years. I wonder though why the swimmers were only just notified of their selection, so close to the Games. In any event, I wish them all the best as it makes the Cayman Islands proud to be represented at the pinnacle of the sporting calendar.