Cayman rocks Gibraltar at Island Games

National team secures 30 medals, including 11 golds

Ben Meade

Cayman’s athletes wrapped up the XVIII NatWest International Island Games with three gold medals on the final day and a grand haul of 30 medals overall at the biennial showcase of sport held this year in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar.

Across the week of the games, medals were won by Cayman athletes in six of the 10 sports they competed in: athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, shooting, squash, and swimming. Cayman’s 30 medals – 11 gold, 10 silver, and nine bronze – was good for 10th place among the 22 islands competing.

Basketball repeat

The final medal won was in men’s basketball. After breezing by opposition in their previous five games, including against Guernsey in the semi-finals, Cayman’s men got a legitimate challenge in the final. Saaremaa made Cayman earn the top spot on the podium in a tight battle that saw the Caribbean side trail for the first time in the tournament.

In the end, Cayman prevailed 75-63 in front of a lively crowd at the Bayside Arena. Captain Samuel O’Garro, Shaad O’Garro and Davion Cotterell led the way, with tenacious play from DeAndre Simpson, Phillip Webb, and Tikko Moore on both ends of the court. This was Cayman’s second consecutive gold in men’s basketball.

On hand to witness the dramatic climax to the Games was Sports Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly. “It was electrifying,” the minister said, as she joined the players and other supporters on court for celebrations. “It only goes to show what can happen when you put the sweat equity investment into it and you believe in yourself.”

Squash sweep

Another gold on the final day of competition came in the squash team event, capping a week that saw Cayman win every gold medal up for grabs in the sport. Jersey were no match and were swept easily, as Cayman took the 5-0 win, having not dropped a game throughout the competition.

This followed gold earlier in the week in men’s singles by Cameron Stafford and in women’s singles by Marlene West. The pair also teamed up to top the podium in mixed doubles. Julian Jervis and Jake Kelly won men’s doubles, while Eilidh Bridgeman and Jade Pitcairn topped the women’s doubles.

Athletics medals

Gold also came in athletics, as showman and perennial Island Games crowd favourite Carl Morgan defended his triple jump title with a longest leap of 15.33 metres, more than a metre ahead of his nearest rival. The four-time gold medallist in the event says having not trained for the event as much as he wanted, he will now put in the work to seek qualification for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Other final day medals in athletics included silver in the women’s 4x100m relay, silver in the men’s 4x400m relay, and silver in the men’s 4x100m relay.

Swimming golds

Swimming, which wrapped up four days of intense competition on Thursday, produced nine medals, including a pair of golds in the men’s 100m freestyle by Jordan Crooks and the women’s 4x100m relay thanks to the team of Kyra Rabess, Jillian Crooks, Alison Jackson and Avery Lambert.

Mother-daughter moment

A special moment for the Cayman delegation came across two days, when swimmer Kyra Rabess was on hand to watch her mother, Marlene West, win gold on the squash court, then West was able to be spectator as her daughter won gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

“It’s surreal,” said West. “There have been times in the past where I said I was going to retire, but the more she swam and the more that I could see that she loved the sport and she had the potential, I said I would stick with it and hopefully we’ll be at a games together.”

Being at the Island Games competing with her mother, albeit in different sports, brought memories that Rabess will cherish forever. “I was really happy to be here because I’ve not really seen her play squash competitively, and to see her win singles was really special for me,” said the young swimmer.

Shooting, volleyball

Ales Cevela, the Islands’ lone representative in shooting, returns home with a pair of medals after a stellar performance in the two events he competed in. Cevela won silver in the IPSC standard division and bronze in the open division.

On Thursday, Jessica Wolfenden and Stefania Gandolfi won bronze in beach volleyball to add to the gold they won four years earlier.

The next NatWest International Island Games will be in 2021 in Guernsey in the Channel Islands.