COVID-19 ushers in season of uncertainty for Hyman

Caymanian sprinter Kemar Hyman continues to train in hopes of competing at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Cayman’s 100-metre record holder, however, believes the coronavirus pandemic that has put most major sporting events on hold may cause the Olympics to suffer the same fate.

“I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” said Hyman. “I don’t think they’re going to have the Olympics. If it was me, and I had a group of athletes that needed to go overseas and compete at an Olympic Games but an aggressive disease was out there, I don’t think I would take that chance with my athletes.”

Some of the world’s most prominent sports leagues, including the English Premier League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball, have suspended their respective seasons. The National Collegiate Athletic Association called off its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments that annually bring in millions of dollars in revenue. Italy’s Serie A has cancelled matches and mandated others be played in empty stadiums. UEFA has moved its European Championships to 2021. The International Olympic Committee said Tuesday, however, that there was no need to make a decision on the games four months out and, as of right now, the Olympics will be held as scheduled. Still, Hyman has his doubts.

“I don’t think it’s going to take place. I’m not even sure what they’re going to be doing in terms of rescheduling, cancelling, or postponing it because they put so much effort in for the last four years [and] so much money for this meet,” Hyman said.
Japan has had 829 confirmed coronavirus cases and 28 deaths, according to the latest report issued by the World Health Organization on 17 March. At a news conference on Saturday, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shut down concerns about the country’s ability to host the games. “We will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem, as planned,” said Abe, adding the IOC will make the final decision on the future of the 2020 Olympics.

For Hyman, 30, this would be his third Olympic Games. He ran a qualifying time of 10.02 seconds at the Johnny Loaring Classic in Canada last year. He has been running professionally for the last nine years and said COVID-19 has already put him back for the 2020 season.

“My gym coach, my track coach, have really been working with me step-bystep, getting me ready and prepared for this upcoming meet that I had in April … in Grenada. But, unfortunately, that was cancelled by the ministry due to the coronavirus,” said Hyman. “I feel like this coronavirus is going to affect other meets that I’m supposed to go to this year. (US) President (Donald) Trump gave a statement saying anyone that’s over in Europe has a travel ban. And that definitely affects me because that’s where I go to compete, all around Europe, and then travel back to the US. I’m not sure what’s going to happen at this point. It’s just a disaster.”

Hyman resides and trains in Tallahassee, Florida. But with the state having dozens of cases of COVID-19 and reporting several deaths, he has returned home to Cayman. “The coronavirus is very aggressive … I think the best place to be is in the Cayman Islands right now, working with Coach (Kenrick) Williams,” said Hyman. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen but what I do know is I need to still continue to stay focussed and continue to put in that great work that I’ve been doing all year. The best place to do that is the Cayman Islands. “All athletes should put the fear of coronavirus into their training, into their craft because we can’t change or do anything about what’s going on out there. So it’s best to just focus on things that you can control instead of things you can’t control; that’s what I’m going to do – just being closer to family and still putting in the same hard work.”

Hyman added that this may be his last chance to make the podium for Cayman at the Olympics. “I’m going to continue to feel that energy and try to continue on this journey to the Olympics because this will be my third Olympics and it may be one of the last ones I do. I feel like I only have two shots; this one and the [next] (Paris 2024) to lower that time, to lower the Cayman record and potentially make it to the finals and get a medal. That’s my biggest goal for my trackand-field career at this point.”

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.