“Mini Olympics” opens with Cayman’s athletes ready for action

More than 70 athletes from the Cayman Islands have joined competitors from 21 other islands primarily from Europe for the XVIII NatWest International Island Games in Gibraltar.

Cayman’s athletes are competing across nine sports – athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, cycling, sailing, squash, swimming, table tennis, and tennis over seven days from 6 to 12 July.

Every two years, the Games bring together athletes from island communities from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic to the Caribbean.

A portion of the Cayman Islands delegation before the opening ceremony.

“These games not only expose our athletes to international competition among their peers, but they are also the equivalent of the Olympics for a small nation like ours,” said Janet Sairsingh, the president of the Island Games Association of the Cayman Islands.

Carrying the flag for the Cayman Islands contingent at the opening ceremony on a breezy Saturday night was Carl Morgan, who has won multiple medals over the years and is the Island Games recordholder in the triple jump (15.68m in 2011).

“It’s an honour and a privilege. Not many people can say they get to bear their flag and represent their island and I’m humbled to do so,” said Morgan, who was also flagbearer two years ago in Gotland, Sweden.

Carl Morgan was the flag bearer.

Although, he’ll wait until Wednesday to compete, the veteran athlete said he was eager to get into his events. “I plan to win them all, hopefully in medal fashion,” Morgan said. “I hope to win three golds, possibly four because I might be doing the 4x400m [relay]. I’m ready to compete,” said Morgan, who has become a crowd favourite wherever the games are held.

A unique feature of the opening ceremony is the mixing of sea water brought from all participating islands. Squash player Jade Pitcairn conducted this role, carrying a calabash wrapped in thatch rope with water gathered from Bodden Town. The container has been used since Cayman debuted at the Island Games in Gotland 1999.

Squash player Jade Pitcairn pours sea water gathered from Bodden Town into a container mixing it with water from other competing islands.

In a ceremony filled with speeches and cultural entertainment, David Bruce the country head of title sponsor, NatWest International, hailed all competitors in what has been dubbed “the friendly games”.

“You are the role models our world and islands need,” he said. “You are here to compete and try to defeat your opponent. That will be difficult because you are all winners, but more important than winnings is proving you have what it takes to become a friend. We are the friendly games and we do this in order to develop sports in our islands,” he said.

At the last games in 2017, the Cayman Islands won 25 medals, seven of them gold, along with 10 silver and eight bronze. Over the years, Cayman’s athletes have won a total of 237 medals. The next gold will be a milestone event, as it will be the islands’ 100th Games history.

CaymanSportsBuzz.com will have daily coverage from Gibraltar.

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