EDITORIAL – The pursuit of excellence on, and off, the field

The Caribbean’s best young athletes brought their ‘A’ games this past weekend, showcasing their skills and bringing their competitive spirits to the delight of thousands of fans.

A bit of rain was no match for these exemplars of excellence, nor could it dampen the experience of the 48th annual CARIFTA Games.

This was our islands’ third experience hosting the premier youth track and field event, and with it, many of our region’s strongest competitors. Congratulations to Cayman’s medal winners, and well done to all. To a person, our national team fought hard and showed great sportsmanship. They were exceptional representatives of our island home.

It was inspiring to witness the precision, dexterity, speed and talent on display at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex during the weekend’s events – the culmination of countless hours of practice, an endless striving to realise the human body and mind’s untapped potential, the dedication and courage it takes to persevere through setback and loss.

CARIFTA, like all great international sporting competitions, is much more than a series of games. It also serves as a forum for peaceful diplomacy, encouraging healthy competition and mutual respect throughout our region. It provides an opportunity for each nation’s finest athletes to meet face-to-face with peers on a level playing field and to astonish an international audience with their skill and accomplishments.

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Hosting an event like the CARIFTA Games takes an incredible amount of behind-the-scenes coordination. The Cayman Islands Athletic Association, coaches, community partners, sponsors, volunteers and spectators who came together to make this weekend possible deserve effusive thanks.

We would not be the first to observe that sport is so popular, in part, because it is such a perfect metaphor for life at its best – with blessedly clearer rules and expectations. It teaches invaluable lessons to our young people (and serves as a welcome reminder to those of us who are no longer quite so young) about the importance of healthy lifestyles, resilience, teamwork and integrity.

In athletics, success is not guaranteed, but hard-earned. One’s record and reputation is built not on superficial considerations, but on talent, temperament and tenacity. The path to victory is paved deliberately, inch by inch, by showing up, day after day, heat after heat, and pushing past every setback and disappointment. Grace is equally important, and expected in victory and defeat.

The Olympic creed captures the essence in this way: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

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