Medals on the mind as CARIFTA Games team is announced

Members of the Cayman Islands 2017 CARIFTA Games team with Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden (left) and Richard Hew of CUC (right).

The Cayman Islands will be sending 15 track and field athletes to the CARIFTA Games in Curacao from 15-17 April. Among them will be five medalists from last year.

Lacee Barnes, Rasheem Brown, Dominic Dyer, Daneliz Thomas and Jamal Walton all stepped on the podium in Grenada at the 2016 Games and will represent Cayman once more.

Joining them will be Kashief Dawkins, William Edwards, Louis Gordon, Ashante Graham, Jeavaun Jackson, Aijah Lewis, Daujaughn Murray, Lamar Reid, Jevon Watler-Christian and Shalysa Wray.

The team was announced at a ceremony Thursday, 29 March at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.

Barnes, who won shot put gold in the Under-18 girls category and silver in the discus last year, has moved up to the Under-20 group. She told that she was excited about the opportunity to add to her medal collection. “I am very excited. I don’t want to come off cocky but I’m very confident this year.”

She added: “I think the two medals last year, especially the gold, really boosted my spirits. I’ve been training really hard and I feel stronger this year. So, I’m looking for the best outcome.”

Thomas, who also moves up to the ranks of the Under-20s after winning javelin gold last year. “I want to get the gold again this year, so that’s my aim,” she said.

Brown, the speedster, who will compete in the Under-18 110m hurdles and the 4 x 100m relay. He has his eyes on improving on his bronze from last year. “I’m going back to win and come back home with a personal best and a meet record,” the 17-year-old told

Dyer, who like Barnes was a double medalist in 2016 – silver in the 3000m and bronze in the 1500m, wants to improve on his performance from last year. He is moving up an age group and also moving from the 3000m to the 5000m. “This plays to my advantage because I’m stronger over the longer distances. If I can move out to the lead from early, I should win it,” he said. Dyer will also compete in the 1500m.

Walton, who is running for Mirimar High School in Florida, enters the games in peak form. He recently equaled his national mark in the 400m with 45.99 seconds. He will look to make the podium again after taking a silver in the event last year and will run the 200m also.

The other team members include sprinter Kashief Dawkins, middle distance specialist William Edwards, long jumpers Louis Gordon and Ashantae Graham, 400m hurdler Jeavaun Jackson, Aijah Lewis in the long jump and high jump, sprinter Daujaughn Murray, Lemar Reid in the triple jump and long jump, Jevon Watler-Christian in the high jump and long jump, and Shalysa Wray – a 400m specialist.

On hand for the announcement was Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden. “We are proud of you, proud of those medalists from last year and who are going back this year even stronger and bringing back more medals,” he said, noting that it was his understanding that Cayman was sending “quite a strong team”.

Mr Bodden implored the athletes to give their best when they represent the islands. “That’s all we can ask. Obviously, we’d love you to win medals but we want you to do your best.”

Also present was Richard Hew, the president and CEO of Caribbean Utilities Company Ltd, which sponsors the team.

“I want to wish you all the best in Curacao and hopefully you will set personal bests…do the best that you can do and we will be proud of you,” Mr Hew said.

The CUC boss said his company was proud to support track and field, as it has done since 1978. “The government can’t do everything,” he said. “We’re happy to sponsor athletics and other sports. I think the private sector has a large role with respect to community involvement and sponsoring sports.”

Mr Hew added his company likes to support sports because it focuses a lot on the youth and it is a perfect fit because CUC strongly believes in youth development.

In his final words to the athletes, the Sports Minister said: “Go out there and compete against the 26 other Caribbean countries and show them that although we’re small, we tallawah…I wish you every success and look forward to welcoming you once again back to these fair islands with a lot of hardware around the neck.”

Accompanying the athletes will be Maxine Anglin (head of delegation), Kenrick Williams (head coach), Tyrone Yen (assistant coach) and Al Beatrice Smith (physiotherapist). The team leaves for Curacao on 13 April. will have more on the athletes in the coming days.

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