Olympic News

Coming off his Canadian Olympic Regatta win, Cy Thompson has sailed his way into the 2016 Olympic Games. The 26 year old St. Thomas native is no stranger to determination and prowess, he spent 1 month training with the Canadian Sailing team in Ontario. With a total of 15 scheduled races over 5 days, Cy’s preparation primed him for a solid start, “I stayed consistent throughout the regatta, did the math going into the last day and knew I just had to beat my closest competitor in one of the 3 races,” he said. Even with the setback of having his boat damaged before the race, Cy finished 38th which made him eligible to represent the Virgin Islands in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and gives him another shot at gold. Cy sailed for Team ISV in the London 2012 Summer Games.

TORONTO -Sailor Cy Thompson of St. Thomas carried the U.S. Virgin Islands flag on Friday night, leading the delegation of 18 athletes at the opening cer­emony for the Pan Am Games in Toronto. 

The USVI , dressed in blue and white, were one of 41 delegations in the Parade of Nations before 45,000 spectators at the sold-out Rogers Centre.

The ceremony, which was produced by Cirque du Soleil, was capped when recently retired NBA leg­ end Steve Nash, one of the most internationally rec­ognized Canadian athletes of all time, ignited a bow l to transfer the flame to the  Games cauldron  located at the foot of the CN Tower.

More than 6,000 athletes are participating in the

Games that run through July 26. Story and Photo by Matt Schoch/Virgin Islands Daily News 

VERACRUZ, Mexico – To be successful in competitive sailing one must be in good physical condition, but one’s fiscal conditions play a major role as well.

Members of the Virgin Islands sailing team participating in the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico, are seeing financial effects during the games.

“Equipment is very lacking. Especially for what we paid for,” Cy Thompson said. “The only people that seem to have nice boats are the ones that either got it container shipped, but more importantly, the Mexicans who have brand new gear in every class that we sail.”

Thompson, who races in the Laser class, said the boats are so old he would not accept one if it was given to him at no cost. He pointed out that the boat rented to the sailor from Antigua was logged with what seemed like 10 gallons of water.

When asked if he thinks that the selective distribution of equipment is a possible move to give certain teams and edge, he replied, “I never put it past these countries.” Thompson speaks from experience, as he was a winner in CAC Games before.

Despite the equipment issues, Team V.I. plans on sailing on to victory.

Thompson sailed his way into the qualifications for the 2016 Olympic Games scheduled for Rio de Janeiro, by making gold fleet in Spain, earlier in 2014. But he is very aware that preparing for high-level competitions bear a high level of financial considerations.

“The hard part is over, but I guess the next obstacle is the fundraising to keep things going – which is the hardest thing to do,” Thompson said.

According to Thompson, $100,000.00 is a guestimate of what it would cost for his equipment and travels for his international preparation.

“That’s a lot of money, I know, but to stay competitive that’s what you need,” Thompson said. “You need the coaches, the equipment and you need to travel to the events like the big regattas. That’s just the way it is.”

Thompson feels if you go to the Olympics without that level of preparedness, “you’re just showing up.”

“I’ve been there before,” Thompson said of the Olympics. “I want to go back, but this time I want to have a fighting chance.”

Laser class competitions are global events and Thompson would like to have equipment strategically placed at key sailing areas. “When I say equipment, I mean just being able to have boats. One boat in Rio, two boats in the U.S. and one boat in Europe so when I go there I don’t have to keep renting,” Thompson said.

Thompson has the backing and support of the V.I. Sailing Federation, but so do all other members. “It’s tough because there are a ton of athletes – ones that haven’t qualified - and need their (federation) support as well,” Thompson said. They help as much as they can, but sailing is an expensive sport.”

Team V.I. is sailing in the Sunfish, Laser, Laser Radial and the J-24 classes in Veracruz, Mexico, and the V.I. Sailing Federation has high hopes for Team V.I. and hopes that success carries over to other young V.I. sailors. Members of Team V.I. will have at least 10 days of competition in Veracruz, Mexico.

With national title in the Opti class and a win over more than 400 other competitors in the New England’s, the V.I. is expected to continue to produce great sailors.

“Grandma Luge” has retired from competitive luge racing, but not form competitive sports. Now, you can find the senior citizen athlete putting her archery skills on the line for the Virgin Islands.

Anne Abernathy is not the typical 61-year-old. The 6-time Olympian has now converted from negotiating frozen downhill courses to piercing target bulls eyes in the distance – among other things.

“The best thing about Archery is that it’s fun,” Abernathy said. “Everybody can participate at the level where they are.”

Abernathy is currently writing a series of books on Olympic sports and not far into her research she learned a fact that motivated her into action. “I found that the oldest woman to ever win an Olympic medal did so in Archery,” Abernathy said.

Steady progress is the key to development and Abernathy posted her personal bests in both the 70m and 60m distances on Tuesday. She was complemented by younger, but more experiences archers on her performance. “I’m thrilled!” Abernathy said. “The fact that they think I’m doing well – and Coach is still talking to me – it was a great day!”

Team V.I. Archery Coach Ruth Rowe agreed. “Tremendous improvement for somebody who has only shot for 20 months,” Rowe said of Abernathy. “To be shooting what she is shooting now and competing in these tournaments and being successful with them is an indication of a tremendous athlete.”

But Abernathy’s venture into Archery is not just for personal gain. “When I first talked to my coach, the first thing that we talked about was a developmental program for the V.I. Archery is something anybody can do at any age,” she said.

According to Abernathy, the future of Archery in the V.I. is showing potential for growth with ideas including indoor programs and competitions. Indoor competitions can be done online as well through means of Skype and other online video-streaming applications. Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados has already requested that the V.I. join such Archery forums.

Currently, Team V.I. Archery Coach Ruth Rowe and V.I. Archery President Dr. William Coles has a program where the offer open training for anyone interested in discovering the world of Archery. Through donations and equipment purchases, the V.I. Archery Federation provides instructors and equipment for use every weekend.

Rowe said the program is there to get people involved in the sport and potentially develop more members for the V.I. National team

Prospective archers can meet on St. Croix from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Paul E. Joseph Stadium. On St. Thomas, you can give Archery a try at the Montessori School Campus on Sundays from 3 p.m.- until dark and Monday mornings from 6 a.m. -7:30 a.m.

Abernathy still has a couple more days of competition left and the V.I. is hoping that “Grandma Luge” still has time to earn a new name – “Grandma Gold.”

Schedules and scores from the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games can be seen on veracruz2014.mx 

Shortly after witnessing an opening ceremony with flair and star power comparable to that of any Olympic Games, Team V.I. got right into competing in the 2014 Central American and Caribbean games in Veracruz, Mexico.

The first Virgin Islands athlete to enter the stadium as flag-bearer was also the first athlete to compete -Jamaris Washshah. “I was actually really excited being nominated to be the flag-bearer,” Washshah said.

The 17-year-old senior at the Country Day Good Hope School on St. Croix, fought off windy conditions as she marched into the stadium in front of tens of thousands of spectators while carrying the V.I. flag and leading the Virgin Islands contingent into the stadium for opening ceremony. “It was big and exhausting, but very entertaining,” Washshah said after carrying the flag and enjoying a performance by Ricky Martin from the front row.

Washshah opened the competition for Team V.I. on Saturday, in the Women’s 50m Backstroke - one of five events that she plans on participating in. After day one, Washshah saw an improvement in her time from 33.81 seconds in the first heat to 33.09 in the finals. Not a winning time in the races, but closer to her personal goal of sub 33 seconds.

“We’re focusing just on ourselves right now,” swimming coach for Team V.I. Jemille Vialet said. “We’re aiming for qualification cuts for other meets and we’re also aiming for records in the Virgin Islands.” Less than a week after Washshah returns home from Veracruz, she will be off to Qatar for another event.

“We were doing a lot of sprint work with her. Just a lot of work just to get her in shape to do these events.” Vialet is also a coach with the Dolphins Swim Club on St. Croix and focused on a wide range of exercises to prepare Washshah.

Coach Vialet is looking beyond competitions as he sees his athletes competing on the college level. Vialet and other staffers at the Dolphin Swim Club feels that a one trick swimmer is not as attractive on the college level. “We train them to swim every event so when they go to college they can be very marketable,” Vialet said.

Vialet also said that the goal is to grow the swim program for both the Virgin Islands and Dolphin Swim Club. He feels of Washshah motivates the younger swimmers in the club. “She’s a very good example. The kids love J.J. All the kids want to be like J.J.”

According to Vialet, the boys in the program are not as much a natural when it comes to dealing with the younger swimmers. Vialet is looking toward reinstituting a mentoring program in the Dolphin Swim Club. He encourages anyone that might be interested in the Dolphins program to call Michelle Sanes at 719-SWIM for more information.

These 2014 Veracruz Games may not have started out with a medal for Team V.I., but maybe Washshah and other athletes can motivate a new generation into representing Team V.I. on the big stage.

All athletes dream of the day when they compete against the best in the game, and soon, many Virgin Islands athletes will have their chance during the 2014 Caribbean and Central American Games in Veracruz, Mexico.

Lyn Reid, Secretary General for the Virgin Islands Olympic Committee, has high hopes for Team V.I. in Veracruz. “This is a very strong team,” Reid said. Virgin Islands athletes will be facing some strong competition, but Reid is confident in her athletes. “We are expecting to bring home some medals.”

Athletes from Team V.I. will be participating in 10 sports including Sailing, Swimming, Beach Volleyball, Track & Field, Taekwondo, Archery, Shooting, Bowling, Golf and Boxing.

Team V.I. will compete in four different sailing classes including Sunfish, Laser, Laser Radial and J-24. Canfield agrees that Team V.I. will have a good representation in Veracruz.

“I think this is our strongest team that’s ever gone to the Caribbean Games,” Canfield said. Canfield highlighted some V.I. athletes that standout in their events.

  • Cy Thompson – previous winner in the CAC Games. Already qualified for 2016 Olympic Games
  • Taylor Canfield – Youngest ever World Match Racing Champion
  • Peter Stanton – Among the best in the V.I. in Sunfish sailing
  • Paige Clarke – Laser Radial athlete. Up and coming athlete recently returned from competing in Youth Olympic Games

Clarke is one part of the group of V.I. sailors at the high school level that is making waves in the sport. “One of our young kids just won the North Americans in the Opti Class and another won in the New Englands – which had over 400 boats competing,” Canfield boasted. “We just continue producing great sailors out of the Virgin Islands. It’s amazing!”

A high school Junior at the Antilles School on St. Thomas, the 15-year-old Clarke will be sailing in the Laser Radial class in Veracruz. Clarke competed in the Youth Olympic Games in the Bite C-2 class which is a smaller and more technical craft than the Laser Radial. “I’m happy with the Laser Radial. I’m liking it,” Clarke said.

Clarke said that some of the athletes she competed against in the Olympic Games would be in competing in Veracruz so she kind of knows what she’s up against. “I’m not too sure where I’ll end up in the fleet, but I just want to try to do my best.”

The V.I. delegation will be comprised of 60-65 athletes, officials, parents and all around supporters.

Scores and stats for the games will be available on the V.I. Olympic Committee’s website at www.virginislandsolympics.org or on the event organizer’s website at www. http://veracruz2014.mx

The 28th Annual Olympic Day Run was in St. Croix on Saturday afternoon at the St. Croix Educational Complex High School Track. 

The public was invited to participate and special invitations went out to Virgin Islands Olympic Committee member sports federations.  Dozens of runners and walkers including Olympians, V.I. National Team Members, coaches, officials, volunteers and family were on hand for this test of fitness on the track over the one mile distance and show of support for the Olympic movement. 

Grouped according to minutes per mile pace, very exciting races put the top long distance runner CARIFTA Bronze Medalist, Juan Robles V.I.Pace Runners/V.ITrack  and Field Federation college grad and teacher at St. Croix Central High School against three of top juniors national track and field team members including Malique  Smith, Rodney Griffin and Barthelemy Peter each of the St. Croix Track Club/V.I. Track and Field Federation.

Robles set the early pace for what would likely become a sub five mile race with Smith on his heels as they entered the straight ending the third of four laps.  With a lap to go Smith stretched the lead only to have Robles close the gap in front of a roaring crowd to cross the line with only a second separating the two of them.  Smith took it in 4:44, Robles second in 4:45 and Griffin third in 5:02.

There were two females in this group with Mikeila Smith SCTC/VITFF Malique's sister who was first in 6:06 and Megan Tatum second in 6:13.  The Smiths were cheered on by the parents and coaches Keith Smith Olympian Barcelona 1992 200m and 4 x 100m relay and Mireille Smith national team member for Suriname and NCAA Champion/All-American runners at Eastern Michigan Univ.

Equally exciting was the 7 minute per mile group with  Mathew Mayes St.Croix Dolphins/V.I.Swimming Federation showing sprint skills as he used the tactic in the last 100m to pull away from Dalton Baptise of SCTC/VITFF to win in 6:13 to 6:26.  Karen Dascent of SCTC/VITFF was the first female in the group and third overall in 6:51; Heidi Snow former V.I.Marathon Champion/V.I. Triathlon Federation was second in 6:56; Roger Hatfield V.I.Triathlon Federation was the third male in 7:09 and Mervin Mills of V.I. Cycling Federation was fourth in 8:11.

Mathew Mays recently  qualified for the Youth Olympic Games and was cheered on by his mom Jodie Lawetz-Mays Olympian 100m, 200m Butterfly Swimmer in the 1984 Los Angles Olympics.

In the 10 minute per mile group Donald Bingham of Cross Fit was first across the line in 6:57; Adam Cohen of Cross Fit was a close second in 6:41 and Mireille Smith SCTC/VITFF was the first female  and third overall in 7:04; Wayne Nichols V.I. Triathlon Federation was third male in 7:32; Ana Gutierrez V.I.Pace Runners/VITFF Olympic Marathon in 1992 Barcelona Olympics was second in 8:02 and Michelle Smith SCTC/VITFF and daughter of Mireille, was third female in 8:40.

The appearance of the Virgin Islands National Basketball Team representing the V.I. Basketball Federation set the stage for a separate run with Xavier crossing the finish line in 8:33; Devon Pelter second in 8:52 and Jason Edwin third in 9:42.

The 15 minute per mile was led by Wes Whitehurst, father of London Olympics 100m freestyle swimmer Brenden Whitehurst, V.I. Swimming Federation in 11:56; Linda Nelson V.I. Triathlon Federation was the first female and second overall in12:13 and Shlomo Williams Mary's Fancy Track Club/VITFF was the second male and third overall in 14:59; Malcah Brown MFTC/VITFF was the second female in 14:59; Sigalect Brown MFTC/VITFF was the third female in 15:23 and Sherwin Nero was the third male in 15:51.

An additional 10 minute per mile group was added to accommodate the Mary's Fancy Track Club/VITFF.  That group was led by Daniel Heywood in 6:59; Emanuel Peter 7:51; Keyshan Hassel 7:53. 

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Did you know?

Timothy Duncan, a Virgin Islander from St. Croix, won a Bronze Medal in Basketball in the Athens 2004 Olympics (competing for the USA).

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