Dominic Dyer may still be only 18 but in the past couple of years he has become Cayman’s outstanding middle-distance athlete.
He is a multiple medallist at the CARIFTA Games and last month saw off the challenge of Jamaica’s finest duo at a local meet.
Two weeks ago, Dyer went to the Island Games in Gotland, Sweden hoping to medal in the 5,000 metres but in his view underperformed, finishing fifth. Nevertheless, it was a fine run against seasoned adult runners.
Dyer was originally entered in the 1500m and 5,000m however, due to the 1500m heats being only six hours before the 5,000m final, he scratched the shorter distance.
The competition was solid, with the three medallists all running faster than Dyer’s personal best of 15 minutes 14 seconds. “Harvey Dixon, who won the race, is particularly fast, having run at Providence College before,” Dyer said. Gibraltar’s Dixon won in 14:46. He is 23, an accomplished athlete who has been on the senior circuit a while.
“I knew my personal bests in both the 1500m and 5,000m would land me anywhere between third and fifth in both races,” Dyer said.
“I was confident that I would medal in the 5,000m and should have. I was in a good position behind the Dixon for most of the race. At around 1,400m to go I really started to hurt and mentally and physically shut down and I really slowed over the last three laps. Had I managed to hold on I would have ran around 15 minutes which would have got me a medal but it was just a bad day for me.”
Dyer’s season is officially over now and he is extremely pleased with how it went. He ran personal bests in the 1500m, 3,000m and 5,000m and won a gold and bronze medal at the CARIFTA Games over Easter.
“Looking back, it was a long season and I should have either ended my season earlier, or taken a bigger break after CARIFTA as I feel I didn’t properly recover after CARIFTA.”
Dyer has just finished his A-Levels at Cayman Prep and High School where he studied maths, physical education, economics and physics. He begins studying at Columbia University in New York in September hoping to major in economics.
Next year he will be running cross country and track in Ivy League meets at Division 1 National Collegiate Amateur Association level.
He said: “I don’t know what meets I will be competing in but it will be cross country from September to December, indoor from January to March and outdoor from April to June.”
A member of the 345 Athletic Club, Dyer is one of a horde of talented youngsters nurtured by Derek Larner in the last few years to achieve their potential.
Dyer is grateful to Larner for his guidance and is looking forward to improving at university. “Obviously one of the downsides of being a middle distance/distance runner here is that there are very few people to train with and race against,” Dyer said.
“This year my focus was more on the track looking at the Island Games, CARIFTA Games and running times to make the Columbia team.”
He took part in the big local road races too, including the Fidelity 2-mile series, Pirates Week 5k and 10k, Valentine Mile, Credit Union 5k, Half Marathon and Marathon Relay, Cross Island Relay and Halloween 10-10-10.
“Next year will be my last CARIFTA so I hope to go out on top winning both the 1500m and 5,000m. Depending on how I am progressing at college, I may take a shot at the 5,000m record. My ultimate goal next season is to qualify for the IAAF World Junior Championships.
“The qualifying standards are tough, but I feel going to college and having more people to train with and compete against will take my running to the next level.”
Dyer is extremely grateful to Larner for his coaching. He said: “I want to thank Derek for everything he has done for me over the past four years. The amount of time he gives up to the running community is amazing (training young athletes, timing races etc.)
“345 AC has a lot of great runners coming through, like Victor Magahlaes, Levi Superville, Juan-Pablo Valerio on the boy’s side, Molly Kehoe and Ava Hider on the girl’s side, who I believe can do great things. The boys are all faster than me when I was their age and have the potential to qualify for CARIFTA in 2018.”
Coach Larner said: “Dom will adapt quickly to the collegiate system in my opinion; when he was 13-14 he went to the U.K. and competed well in the cross country county league.
“As a university freshman Dom will be running against senior athletes to begin with and may find they are a level ahead at this stage, but he is versatile and will hold his own both on the track and over cross country once he settles in to his new regimen.”
Just how good could he become? Larner said: “Dom knows where his weaknesses lie and we have discussed areas where he must make improvements pre-season in order to move to another level. That said, I believe he has the right physical attributes and he is very dedicated to training so there is no reason why he should not move to the elite level, but of course it is all up to him.”
Larner added: “It’s been a pleasure working with Dom and watching him develop into the best distance runner in Cayman. He is intelligent, attentive and takes advice from a variety of sources. He knows what he wants and I believe he will get there.”