After a 26-medal performance in Abu Dhabi at the Special Olympics World Summer Games 14-21 March, Special Olympics Cayman Islands (SOCI) athletes were greeted by a drove of supporters and a thunderous applause Saturday (23 March) at the Owen Roberts International Airport.
Athletics Coach Elroy Bryan says their performance was an example of how athletes approached the games mantra in order to ‘meet the determined’.
“You could see determination in every race,” said Bryan. “It give athletes and coaches a sense of pride to see them achieve these great milestones.”
One of the games most notable milestones was the women’s sprint-double victory by Cayman’s Tessa Terry. Mother Cynthia Terry said such accomplishments from her daughter were once unthinkable.
“I feel proud as a parent, and I give thanks to God,” said Terry. “She didn’t walk until she was two-years, two-weeks, and four days old. Now, she’s running and winning gold medals for the country.”
Bryan says it’s performances likes Terry’s that help change opinions about the World’s Special Olympics athletes.
“In the 4x100m, one team ran a 44:00 seconds,” said Bryan. “There are teams that can compete at any level. I think it’s important for people to realize that these athletes can do great things. As a coach, I always leave inspired.”
Silver and bronze medalist Jordan McLean was simply thankful for the experience, and grateful for the support.
“To all of the people in the Cayman Islands, thank you for all the support and the love you put upon the Special Olympics team to represent our islands for you guys,” said McLean.
Matthew Ebanks, a three-time Special Olympics athlete who won two gold medals, says the woman who guided them for so many years, the late Penny McDowall, was with them in spirit.
“We all know Miss Penny McDowall gave us our legacy,” said Ebanks. “We give our prayers to her family, and we appreciate her for all the good things she did in the past. She guided us spiritually.”