FINA Men’s 50M Freestyle World Champion, Jordan Crooks received a hero’s welcome and a standing ovation following his World Championship winning race in Melbourne Australia. A reception to honour the young Caymanian was hosted by the Hon. Bernie Bush and the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Culture & Heritage (MYSCH), on Wednesday night (21 December 2022).
Moreover, the Cayman Islands Government announced its desire to award Jordan Crooks a sum of CI $25,000 in recognition of being the first World Champion winner for the Cayman Islands. Further details on this award will be issued in due course as there are governing guidelines and policies to be considered.
The public ceremony was held just four days after his incredible race at the FINA World Championships. Elected officials including His Excellency the Governor, Martyn Roper; Premier, Hon. G. Wayne Panton; Deputy Premier, Hon. Christopher Saunders; Minister for Health, Wellness & Home Affairs, Hon. Sabrina Turner; Minister for Tourism & Transport, Hon. Kenneth Bryan; Parliamentary Secretaries Ms Heather Bodden and Mr. Isaac Rankine, and MYSCH Acting Chief Officer Ms Joan West-Dacres were among the well-wishers in attendance.
MYSCH’s Acting Deputy Chief Officer (Youth & Sports) Ms Melissa Whorms opening remarks noted the wider significance of Jordan’s victory. “Normally World Champions are those we see on television, ones that we do not know or will ever meet but with much Caymanian pride, I can say we now have a World Champion, one that is very much real and one of us. Thank you for being a role model to our youth and an inspiration to us all.”
During his speech Minister Bush congratulated the 20-year-old, who boasted an astonishing 20.31 during the Championship, and tying for 4thoverall on the all-time performers list over the short course distance. His final swim in the 50M freestyle event brought home the gold for the Cayman Islands.
Minister Bush also gave credit to others: “In recognising your record-making accomplishment we must also thank those who provided support over the years. Starting with your parents: Faith and Jimmy Crooks. From as far back as Jordan’s mother can remember water has been part of this island boy’s life. It was they who introduced you to swimming as a toddler, and they who later took you for formal swimming lessons and from competition to competition.
Their love was shown in the investment of the time and money they gave to help you realise your dreams. Let us not forget your sister Jillian who is your biggest cheerleader but probably also your biggest competition in and out of the pool, always standing behind you.”
Making his address, Premier, Hon. G. Wayne Panton noted that Caymanians and the government were incredibly proud of Jordan and his accomplishments. “Ladies and gentlemen, Minister Bush didn’t choose Heroes Square by accident but because he knew that you are a hero to our people and to our young people in particular.”
The applause as much as it goes to you Jordan it goes to your parents as well, because while we need great role models like you, we also need great role models like your parents. I can’t tell you how much we all feel and love the kind of support it takes so our young people, our children, can be able achieve what you have achieved. It is an integral part of my motto of ‘Community Builds Country’ because it starts with the families, it starts in the communities and we build stronger countries as a result,” the Premier added.
Secretary General of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee Mr. Carson Ebanks called the gold medal and World Championship result: “An outstanding accomplishment by a phenomenal young Caymanian. The world has a population of approximately eight billion people and a young and very talented Jordan Crooks from the Cayman Islands with a population of approximately 70,000 bravely faced the best swimmers in the world and outswam them all, bar none.”
Also adding his congratulations, Cayman Islands Aquatic Sports Association (CIASA) President, Mr. Stephen Broadbelt outlined Crooks’ decade-long swimming career, adding: “Christmas came early for the Cayman Islands but this was not a gift given, this gift was earned by Jordan. I will remember exactly where I was when he hit that wall. I will remember that in 10 years from now in 20 years from now.”
Broadbelt spoke about Jordan’s determination and said that he has used Jordan’s story as an example of resiliency to show what is possible if you do not give up.
Both the CIASA President and Minister Bush confirmed that for Cayman’s swimmers to continue on this trajectory the much-anticipated 50M pool will need to be built and that plans and discussions for that project were already in the works before this impressive triumph.
Honouree Mr. Jordan Crooks responded from the podium with a special thanks for the support of his parents, family and close friends who helped him to achieve such an accomplishment.
After receiving a Caymanite plaque Crooks met well-wishers, signing autographs and taking pictures until the reception ended.