The Cayman Islands’ history with CARIFTA is a long and positive one.
The inaugural CARIFTA Games were held in 1972 and the Cayman Islands sent its first team to Kingston, Jamaica seven years later in 1979 to compete. The 2019 CARIFTA Games is the third time that the Cayman Islands will proudly stage the region’s premiere junior athletics event, having previously hosted in 1995 and 2010. The games run this weekend from Saturday through Monday at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
Cayman’s medal-winning athletes
Cayman earned its first CARIFTA medals in 1982 when the games were held in Jamaica. Tabitha Parchment took silver in the U-17 girls’ 1500m and Sandra Wellington secured bronze in both the U-17 girls’ 800m and 1500m. The first gold medal came the following year in 1983 when Adam Llewellyn took first place in the U-17 boys’ discus.
While Llewellyn was the country’s first CARIFTA gold medal winner, Edward Manderson was the first Cayman athlete to win multiple gold medals. Manderson brought home gold in the U-20 long jump in 1985 and double gold in the 1987 Games in the U-20 long jump and triple jump events.
In 1988, Racquel Morrison won gold in the U-17 high jump and in 1990, two of the Cayman Islands’ impressive three gold medals went to Ryan Haylock who took the top spot on the podium in both the U-20 discus and javelin events. In 1991, Dominic Powell took the gold in the javelin competition.
During the late 1980s to early 1990s, Kareem Streete-Thompson led the Cayman Islands in its acquisition of CARIFTA hardware.
Streete-Thompson – a three-time Olympian, now associate head coach at University of Texas San Antonio – has twice won the coveted Austin Sealy Award and still holds two meet records: One in the U-17 long jump which he set at 7.83m in Bridgetown, Barbados in 1989 and the other in the U-20 long jump which he set at 7.94m in Kingston in 1990.
In all, he won a total of four gold medals for the Cayman Islands – one each year from 1987 to 1990 – the most individual gold medals obtained by any of the Cayman Islands athletes at the CARIFTA Games.
In 1996, Cydonie Mothersill brought home the Austin Sealy Award along with two gold medals in the U-20 100m and 200m sprints. She followed it up with a third gold medal in 1997 in the U-20 100m and had an overall CARIFTA medal haul of seven medals with her silver and three bronze medals won in the 1994 and 1995 games. Mothersill continues to be active in the sport and serves in a volunteer capacity on the Cayman Islands Athletic Association Board. Along with government support, she has hosted her own international meet, the Cayman Invitational, six times. Participants have included Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, LaShawn Merritt, Asafa Powell and Carmelita Jeter.