By Christopher Tobutt
The Cayman Islands Athletics Association (CIAA) has announced the biggest team in the program’s history with 53 amateur track and field stars getting their chance to medal on home soil 20-22 April in the 48th CARIFTA Games.
So far, the Cayman Islands has won 25 gold, 32 silver and 42 bronze medals at CARIFTA for a total of 99, a remarkable achievement for a country with a population of just over 63,000 people; much less than most of the other participating countries.
All the athletes recently met at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, along with four members of the games’ Local Organizing Committee along with Lance Barnes, Co-Chair, Joel Francis, Co-Chair and Cayman Government Representative, Ventisha Conolly, Deputy Co-Chair, and Collin Anglin who is in charge of the site and grounds, with CUC President Richard Hew, because CUC is the main sponsor.
Speaking about his expectations for this year’s team, Mr. Barnes said: “We are very optimistic, future looks bright. We have some young athletes coming up and with support from parents and dedication and hard work, I’m sure we’ll achieve great things. We have had some delays with the track preparation and so we took everything into consideration and despite the delay they have been training consistently quite hard, and we thought it would be best for to include them because for some of them this is one opportunity to really shine. We are quite confident that the team we have named will do well and it’s also part of the process of developing them to gain in this experience it will definitely help them for the years to come.”
Mr. Hew said: “You’ve been working very hard. There has been a lot of preparation going into the proudest moment when you represent your country in front of your supporters and I wish you all the very best.”
Mr. Francis said: There are 28 countries of the CARIFTA family and we have had confirmation of 27 of them.” Mr. Francis added that Belize was the country that was still in some doubt.
Mr. Anglin shared a particular track story about an unbroken high jump record: “When someone finally broke that record, they interviewed the athletes and said, ‘how did you do it?’ Because they thought this was impossible that someone could actually clear this mark. He answered, ‘I threw my heart over the bar, and my body followed,’ so what I want to say to you is, this is your time, this is your moment, throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow.”
All 53 athletes will have their stories to tell, whether they manage to break any records or not. Victor Majalhaes, 19 is competing in the Track and Field: “I am running the 15,000 and 5,000 m in the CARIFTA Games. I feel good, I feel strong and I have prepared well for the games. I want to give it my all when the time comes.”