Island Games: Cayman’s medal tally reaches double digits

The dominating Cayman squash team celebrate with officials, including Minister of Sports Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, second left, and Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, centre.

Ben Meade

Cayman’s squash players made a clean sweep of the doubles titles at the XVIII NatWest International Island Games on Wednesday, as the overall contingent’s medal tally reached double figures.

Up first was the men’s doubles final, pitting Jake Kelly and Julian Jervis against Anthony Brindle and Christian Navas representing the hosts, Gibraltar. That meant a packed venue with an energetic crowd cheering on the hometown players.

“The atmosphere was crazy. All the Gibraltarians were in attendance and you could hear all the cries from the crowd. It was a high-pressure situation,” said Jervis, as he reflected on the 2-0 (15-13, 15-11) win.

Kelly said the plan was to try to limit their mistakes. “We started off steady … and then we just played better than them,” he said.

It was a satisfying moment for the pair. Kelly was at a loss for words. “I haven’t won anything in 10 years, he said. For Jervis, this was his second Island Games medal. He explained that this one held greater significance than six years ago in Bermuda.

“I won a gold medal for the team event back in 2013 but I was a reserve. For me, I was happy that Cayman had won but I didn’t feel as though I had won, so this is huge for me, to prove that I could win a medal at the Island Games,” the former Caribbean junior champion said.

Next on court were Eilidh Bridgeman and Jade Pitcairn, who thoroughly dominated their opponents from Guernsey, defeating singles silver medallist Natalie Dodd and Karen Robinson 2-0 (15-3, 15-7).

This was the pair’s second overseas medal in the past year, after winning bronze at the Central American and Caribbean Games last July. Bridgeman said she would savour the most recent one a bit more.

“CAC was a bigger event,” the 25 year old acknowledged. “It was a bronze medal and we didn’t have a playoff for third and fourth, so I think this on meant a bit more because we felt like we earned it.”

Runner Michael Smikle took bronze in the Men’s 800m.

Following the lead from their teammates, Marlene West and Cameron Stafford delivered the goods with a straight games win (15-5, 15-7) over Dodd, who was quickly back on court, and her partner, Laurence Graham.

With West and Stafford having won the women’s and men’s singles a day earlier, the latest results put Cayman as the gold-medal favourite in the team competition that culminates on Friday.

The previous evening, a record-setting performance in the pool by Raya Embury-Brown in the women’s 1,500 metres earned her a silver medal. Her time of 17 minutes, 26.26 seconds, shattered the Cayman Islands Aquatic Association record and the Cayman Islands national senior record of 17:48.33 set by Elana Sinclair last December. “It feels really good. I’m super stoked about my performance,” the 14-year-old said.

Also on Tuesday evening, a well-earned bronze medal was placed around the neck of Michael Smikle after a photo finish to separate positions two through four in the men’s 800 metres on the track.

Raya Embury-Brown set a new Cayman Islands record on her way to winning silver in the women’s 1500m swim.

With defending champion Seamus MacKay of the Shetland Islands cruising to his second consecutive gold medal, Smikle made up considerable ground down the home stretch to find himself in a three-way battle for the two remaining medals. After reviewing the finish, officials awarded silver to Isle of Man’s David Mullarkey (1:55.715) and Smikle third by the slimmest of margins (1:55.716).

“The time was great, I got a medal and I’m ending my season on a high,” said the runner from Mustang Track Club.

At the time of writing, the Cayman Islands had amassed 10 medals – six gold, two silver and two bronze.

The Games continue until Friday.

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