Bethany Dikau figures to be under heavy scrutiny.
Dikau will be the first gymnast to ever represent the Cayman Islands at the Commonwealth Games. The former Cayman Prep and Grace Christian Academy student will be tackling four events: vault, bars, beam and floor. Dikau, 17, says her focus heading into this month’s competition is on execution.
“Am I injury free? More or less. But I see my physiotherapist on a regular basis,” Dikau said. “My goals are sticking to my beam routine, having clean tumbling lines in my floor routine and overall clean routines on all four events.”
Dikau is one of 27 Cayman athletes attending the 2014 Games from July 23 to Aug. 3 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Aside from gymnastics, the squad will feature athletes across six sports – athletics, boxing, cycling, shooting, squash and swimming. It is the largest Commonwealth Games team ever assembled under the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee.
In athletics, Cayman will sport Rhymiech Adolphus, Tyrell Cuffy, Ronald Forbes, David Hamil, Kemar Hyman, Troy Long, Carl Morgan, Carlos Morgan and Ashleigh Nalty. Squash features Myron Blair, Eilidh Bridgeman, Julian Jervis, Daniel Murphy, Cameron Stafford and Marlene West.
Geoffrey Butler, Lara Butler, David Ebanks, Brett Fraser, Lauren Hew and Alex McCallum are the swimmers. Christopher Jackson, Edison McLean and Andrew Schirn form the shooting team with boxer Tafari Ebanks and cyclist Michele Smith rounding out the competitors.
Javelin thrower Alex Pascal, 19, had been selected for the team but was forced to withdraw as he is recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right ulnar collateral ligament that he damaged during training and he also strained muscles in his forearm.
Dikau earned her place in Glasgow after achieving an all-around score of 36.3 at a meet last December. Prior to that, she competed for Cayman at last year’s NatWest Island Games in Bermuda, where she became the first gymnast to win a medal, claiming silver in the vault.
Dikau moved from Cayman to Canada a few years ago and trains with coach Adriana Forde at Gymnastics Energy in St. Catherines, Ontario. She says Forde deserves plenty of credit for the recent success.
“Adriana is my biggest influence, along with my parents. What is my routine between now and the Games? Training five days a week for a total of 20 hours per week with increased amounts once school ended in June. I’ve done conditioning, stretching and training on all four apparatuses – vault, bars, beam and floor – with occasional yoga classes for stretching and flexibility.
“My worst moment was falling off the bars with an injury to my back and not training for two months. My best moment so far was winning the silver medal in Bermuda last July.”
Medal expectations are tempered for Dikau. While her success in Bermuda and Canadian training bode well, she is putting local gymnastics on to an international stage dominated in years past by England and Australia. Cayman’s best chances of landing silverware rests with the swimmers – especially Olympian Fraser and Island Games heroine Lara Butler. A podium finish would follow on the heels of track star Cydonie Mothersill-Stephens’s efforts four years ago, when she won Cayman’s first and only gold medal in athletics at the 2010 Games in Delhi, India.
Dikau is one of a handful of promising local gymnasts that includes Morgan Lloyd, Camerin Porter and Raegan Rutty. For Cayman Islands Gymnastics Association President Toni Pinkerton, Dikau’s success is inspiration for Caymanian girls.
“This is a very exciting year for gymnastics in Cayman,” Pinkerton said. “Following our acceptance last year by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique and Pan American Gymnastics Union – our international and continental federations – 2014 is the year for our Caymanian gymnasts to set the first benchmarks for our sport in the international arena at both the Commonwealth Games and the Youth Olympics. We are thrilled to be recognized and invited to participate at this level and grateful to the Olympic Committee for supporting us in getting here.”
She added, “The 2014 Commonwealth Games will represent the first true international multisport event for Cayman gymnastics and we are so proud of Bethany for rising to the challenge. Motivated by her silver medal win at the Island Games in Bermuda last year, Bethany and her coach Adriana stepped up her training regime to meet the qualification standards set by the association for the Games.
“Bethany is a leader and demonstrates true sportsmanship in training and competition and we are proud to have her as a delegate for Cayman and our sport at these Games. She has opened new opportunities for the next generation of gymnasts who see, though her achievements, how dedication and hard work pay off. She has opened doors for the younger gymnasts who are right at her heels working hard so they can represent Cayman in the future.”