By Christopher Tobutt
Cayman’s wonderful success in bringing home more than 30 medals from the XVII NatWest International Island Games got even better when the National Men’s Basketball team brought home yet more treasure – another gold medal - from Gibraltar.
Altogether, Cayman athletes put on a remarkable show of expertise, and sporting spirit, by winning medals in six sports, including squash, swimming, beach volleyball and basketball, winning 11 gold and 10 silver medals, and gaining a respectable 10th place amongst the 22 different competing countries.
They were coming from Tampa, after flying from Gibraltar, and a big group of friends and family and coaches and government officials waited patiently for the Arrivals door to open, with balloons and big Cayman flags and big Cayman hugs all ready. Finally the doors opened and both the Men’s and the Women’s National Basketball Teams, as well as members from the beach volleyball team, came through.
The men’s basketball team which was responsible for winning one of the last medals of the games, when the Cayman side just managed to pull ahead of Saaremaa, an island in the Baltic Sea. After a hard-fought match, Cayman won by 75-63.
Coach ‘Voot’ O’Garro said: “Congratulations to the team and to the staff, and thanks for the support we have gotten from the Government, and the people of the Cayman Islands. It was a difficult and really intense, in the final run, against former defending champion Saaremaa and they were very tough to beat, but we came through. It was a wonderful tournament.”
17 year-old Joshua O’Garro was busy being greeted by friends and family. “We won a gold and I scored. We played very well. We won it all.” Shaad O’Garro 29 said: “We went to represent Cayman for basketball, and we won two years ago, in Sweden, and now we had to go back and defend the title in Gibraltar and we went back and defended it and got gold.”
Davian Cottrell, another Men’s Basketball team member, was busy being greeted by both his mother and Cayman Sports Minister Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.
Davian said: “It just feels great. We just came back, and it’s the second time we won the Island Games, so we’ve won it two times in a row now and if feels really good to finally start being on the winning side.”
Ms. O’Connor-Connolly said: “It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to go back to the Island Games, not just because my guys won, but because they really displayed the Cayman Kind. Now nobody in the Island Games can go away saying that they don’t know who Cayman is. There was a talk and a buzz in the town, and they did so well.”
But it wasn’t only the Men’s Basketball team who did so well; both the Women’s basketball team and the Beach Volleyball team had achieved much to be proud of. Melissa Bridgemohan, 21, a member of the Women’s National Basketball Team said: “We didn’t get any golds, but we did try our best. We gave it our all and we worked as a team, and we came fifth.” Fellow team-member, Neandra Forbes-Morgan said: “I think all of us did really well.”