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Speed Born in Grand Turk

Delano Williams participates in 2016 Summer Olympics.

By Jody Rathbeb

When Delano Williams ran in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he officially represented Great Britain. But there’s more to that story. Currently a resident of Kingston, Jamaica, he was born and raised on Grand Turk and continues to cherish the memories of a native-born Turks & Caicos Islander. Delano’s participation in Rio was tweaked by the rules of the International Olympic Committee. The IOC does not recognise the Turks & Caicos as a competing country. There was, however, a by-law with a precedent to Anguillan long jumper Shara Proctor that allowed him to represent Great Britain because the TCI is a British Overseas Territory.

Grand Turk native Delano Williams participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Grand Turk native Delano Williams participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

So it was that he ran the second leg of the 4×400 metre relay in Rio, helping his team (Nigel Levine, Matthew Hudson-Smith, Martyn Rooney) come in first during the qualifier before the committee disqualified them in a harsh and disappointing decision, claiming that Rooney was outside of the hand-over zone.
Behind it all, however, is a humble and genuine “island boy” who remembers climbing coconut trees and catching donkeys on Grand Turk. Shortly before he left for Rio, we asked the 23-year-old to share some of his early experiences that give his nimble feet their roots.
Early days: Delano was born on December 23, 1993 to Livingston Williams and Haitian-born Ruthe Barton. “I used to live in South Back Salina, and then I moved to Breezy Brae,” he relates. He became involved in sports at school, and the interest intensified through the influences of his coach, Neil Harrison, and a mentor, Rita Gardiner. Who was Delano as a child? “I was a kid with ambition and determination, dedicated to the task at hand. I was jovial and still am,” he says. He adds that the need to always achieve more helps to keep him humble.
Island flavours: “My favorite food in Turks & Caicos is crack conch and chips. I get this every time I touch the Islands. That food makes me put on weight! I love my mother’s cooking. It’s unfortunate I didn’t learn how to cook from her.”
Hurricane Ike: “I was sleeping” during the 2008 storm, Delano says. “I didn’t even feel anything.” His own home was not destroyed, but there was so much damage on Grand Turk that the school was closed for a long period of time. That was when he moved to Jamaica, following Coach Harrison, who had become head coach at Munro College in St. Elizabeth parish. His final thoughts about the hurricane? “Hey, it got me to the Olympics today!”
Jamaica: It was in Jamaica that Delano blossomed as a runner. He entered Munro College in 2008 and represented the school when he won the 100 and 200 metres at the 2012 Jamaican National High School Track and Field Championships. Also in 2012, he represented TCI in the World Junior Championships in Athletics in Barcelona, Spain; he won a gold medal in the 200 metres. Delano has also won medals at the CARIFTA Games (Youth 2009 and Junior 2011 and 2012).
Delano trains with the Racers Track Club in Jamaica, “home” of nine-time Olympic gold medalist runner Usain Bolt, who has encouraged the younger man’s career. Bolt also ran in Rio, ending his career with his ninth gold medal.

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Aysha Stephen is Grand Turk’s newest artistic sensation, renowned for her iconic “Cool Donkeys” paintings. Her creations are quite the hit with visitors to TDB Fine Arts Gallery. It recently opened within the Turks & Caicos National Museum on Grand Turk and is dedicated to showcasing art “Made in TCI.

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