The Cayman Islands had six athletes at the just concluded 2019 Pan American Games and they all gave admirable performances against world class opposition.
The 18th Pan Ams was a massive multi-sport event featuring close to 7,000 athletes from 41 countries competing in 39 sports with golden tickets to Tokyo 2020 available in 22 Olympic qualifiers. Bodybuilding and surfing made their Pan American Games debut.
Brett Fraser achieved the result he hoped for and qualified for his third Olympic Games. Fraser, the only gold medallist in Cayman’s history at the Pan Am Games, finished his qualifying heat in the 100 metres freestyle with a time of 49.68 seconds. That meets the B-cut qualifying standard for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Fraser’s time was seventh-fastest out of 29 competitors. The 29 year-old Caymanian whose brother Shaun is also an Olympian, earned a gold medal in the 200m freestyle at the 2011 Pan Am Games. Brett competed in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.
Fraser made it into the B Final for the men's 50 metres freestyle in 22.74 seconds, a season’s-best time. He just missed qualifying for the A Final by 0.04 seconds. In the final, Fraser’s time of 23.42 seconds placed him eighth.
Fraser said: “It was good to be in the B Final race against some fast guys. It’s strength training now and focusing on speed events and attention to details in and out of the water start almost immediately. I’m pretty happy with my performances and where I hoped I would be.” He is now aiming to qualify for A standard races in Tokyo.
John Bodden was in the 400m freestyle. Bodden won his heat and set a personal best time of 4 minutes 04.34 seconds. In the 200m fly, Bodden also set a personal best time of 2:08.22. He was also in the 1500m free.
Lauren Hew was the third Cayman swimmer. She failed to qualify for the finals in the women’s 200m free with a time of 2:14.50 and in the 100m freestyle her time was 1:01.38. Hew also competed in the 50m freestyle and was seventh in 27.13 seconds.
Sprinter Kemar Hyman was unable to qualify for the men's 100m finals, running 10:44 seconds. He finished third in his semi-final race but just missed out on a place in the finals. Hyman said: “I do feel disappointed about the time and me not qualifying for the finals.” He added that he felt a little ill, “flu-ish” but was looking forward to the world championships in Doha at the end of August “to do something amazing for my country”.
In sailing, Jesse Jackson after three sails in the dinghy class finished a credible 21st overall. Jackson had a slow start to his Pan American debut after facing multiple challenges on the first two days of the Games due to the wind conditions in Paracas Bay, Peru. He said: “Overall these Games are a big difference in terms of skill level, it was a really tough event. This venue isn’t one of the easiest venues, very windy or no wind so it was a tough event.”
Jackson struggled with emotions during the first days of the races, having to complete at least three sails a day, a total of 10 qualifying races in five days. Jackson tallied 208 total points.
Gymnast Raegan Rutty has already shifted her focus from the 2019 Pan American Games to the upcoming World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Germany, after she was unable to qualify for the individual apparatus finals two weeks ago.
“Not qualifying for finals was definitely disappointing. I really wanted to qualify and go in front of the audience again to show everyone what Cayman has to offer, but I definitely learned a lot from this competition,” Rutty said.
The 17-year-old was the first athlete to compete for the Cayman Islands in Mixed Group 3 for the Artistic Gymnastics Women’s Qualification Subdivision 1, alongside three athletes from Jamaica and two from the Dominican Republic.
Rutty needed to score in the top 24 to proceed to the finals, which includes Floor, Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Individual All-Around. She placed an overall 38 out of 58 competitors. She was 40th in Vault, 49th in Uneven Bars, 48th in the Balance Beam and 46th in Floor.