Cayman’s athletes are finding their medal-winning stride at the XVIII NatWest International Island Games in Gibraltar, with a pair of gold on the squash court Tuesday taking their tally to five through two and a half days of competition.
Marlene West and Cameron Stafford lived up to their top-seed billing and delivered gold medals in the women’s and men’s squash singles respectively.
West defeated six seed Natalie Dodd of Isle Guernsey 3-0 (11-2, 11-4, 11-6) to cap an incredible run in which she did not drop a game on her way to winning the top prize.
The former Caribbean number one started out strong but encountered resistance from Dodd, who tried to gain the tactical advantage, momentarily making it challenging for West.
“Her game is pretty solid. Because she plays a slower tempo game, you tend to might want to take it for granted but she’s quite tactical in how she plays but I was able to keep my game plan and kept the tempo going,” West said.
“She saw that by moving me to the front of the court would have been more effective because that’s where she’s strong rather than staying back but, thankfully, I was able to counteract that.”
Once she made the adjustments, it was smooth sailing and there was little doubt, if any, about the outcome.
A short while earlier, it was Stafford who showed his dominance, sweeping his way to the top of the podium with a 3-0 (11-3, 11-6, 11-5) victory over the sixth seed, David Norman from the Isle of Man.
Stafford came in as the clear-cut favourite and while the Isle of Man supporters cheered their player on, there was no overcoming Cayman’s former professional player.
“I’m just really glad I won this medal for my country. It means a lot to me because I’ve never won a gold medal in the singles ever in the Island Games,” Stafford said.
West and Stafford will team up in the mixed doubles and feature in the team event, as they seek more precious metals to take back to the Caribbean.
On Monday evening, a pair of athletes making their Island Games debuts made their way onto the podium in athletics and swimming.
Danneika Lyn won a silver medal in the women’s 100m, finishing six-hundredths of a second behind Sara Wise of Aland, who won in 12.83 seconds compared to Lyn’s 12.89 seconds. They were slowed by a stiff headwind.
“My start was good,” recalled 16-year-old Lyn. “I came up before all the girls. When I looked beside me and I saw [Wise] coming, so I pushed more. I did my best and I’m proud [of what I accomplished].”
Another Cayman Islands runner, Danielle Bailey was fifth in that race with a time of 13.11 seconds.
Cayman’s other medal on Monday came in the pool with Jordan Crooks finishing third in the men’s 50m backstroke.
The 17-year-old touched the wall in 25.45 seconds behind gold medallist Harry Shalamon of Jersey (24.31) and Guernsey’s Thomas Hollingsworth (25.29).
“It was a lot of fun. I had a great time going into the finals and I did my best time in the end. I’m really proud of it,” he said, adding that having his sister Jillian as an Island Games teammate and his parents on hand in Gibraltar made the occasion even more memorable.
“The whole family is here. Everyone is cheering for everyone. It’s just a great time,” he said.
Cayman’s first medal at the 2019 Games came on Sunday when Louis Gordon won the men’s high jump.