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Florence Allan to compete in Rio 2016 Olympic Games for Cayman Islands

Allen to Rio“I’m still taking it in. It still feels really surreal,” Allen says. 

Studying for A-Levels, graduating and perhaps going to college all seem like realistic goals for a 17-year old, but for sailor Florence Allen, those goals are small compared to her recent invitation to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

“I was studying at home for an exam I had yesterday [May 18] afternoon. My dad came in and told me the news, while I was preparing for an exam!” Allen says, “A real mix of emotions!!”

Like any other competitor being invited to the Games is slim to none, even though she knew her chances Allen says she still wondered, ‘what if?’

“I was trying not to think about it too much because it was ultimately out of my control,” Allen says. “I didn’t want to be brought down if I didn’t get awarded a spot.” 

“I can’t really describe the feeling – when you think about the Olympics every day and then you suddenly get invited to the Games,” Allen says. “It’s a really special feeling that not a lot of people get to experience.”

Confident that Tokyo 2020 would be her Games, Allen along with the Head Coach of the Cayman Islands Sailing Club & National Sailing Centre, Raphael Harvey didn’t think being invited to the 2016 Games would happen this quickly, if at all. 

“When I heard the news yesterday I originally thought it was a hoax. I immediately called the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee for confirmation,” Harvey says. “Saying that I’m proud would be a great understatement.” 

Not a very common sport in Cayman and even less common among women, Tomeaka McTaggart was the last sailing competitor in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. McTaggart was the lone sailor alongside track athlete Cydonie Mothersill and Kareem Street-Thompson. McTaggart competed in 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia and 2000. Allen’s parents are hoping there will be no more Olympic gaps for sailors.  

“Rob and I are thrilled and delighted for Florence,” Allen says. “It is great for the Cayman Islands and we hope this will inspire other girls to get involved in the sport. [Raphael and Florence] have worked very hard to get to this point. The hours on the water and in the gym/Crossfit have definitely paid off.” 

“This means a great deal for the sailing community as whole,” Coach Harvey says, “It’s just the boost we need at the moment. I think this will serve as great motivation for all sailors in the program, especially the younger sailors.” 

The road to Rio will only get harder for Allen, who is still in school. 

“Going forward, I still have to finish my exams – which I am currently in the thick of!” Allen says. “After my exams finish I will try to get to Rio as soon as possible to try and familiarize myself with the wind and waves. There’s still a lot of work to do before the games so I will be training as much as I possibly can.” 

For the past 11 years, Allen has been exposed to many things through sailing and her parents credit her success and persistence to the Sailing Club. 

“This is great for CISC and the Youth Sailing Programme – it shows that it’s working. Florence started sailing when she was about 6 years old at the CISC camps,” Allen says. “It’s testament to the level of coaching that is offered and what can be achieved. Florence is now going to Rio!” 


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