Sebastian Coe, back in what he describes as his "spiritual home town" of Zurich, where he broke world records for 1500 metres and the mile, has said the most important thing for athletics is to ensure the best competitors meet each other in both championships and other meetings.

The man now considered favourite to take over as the next President of the International Association of Athletics Federations next year, who had chatted briefly in the stands of the Letzigrund Stadium with another illustrious visitor, Usain Bolt, on Wednesday (August 13), said: "We have to get more young people to love athletics.

"I think, that's our great challenge major championships and great one-day meetings are a great tool to do that."

He made it clear that what the sport needed most were head-to-head meetings at both championships.

"My sons get up in the middle of the night to watch [Roger] Federer play against [Rafael] Nadal, or [Sebastian] Vettel race against [Lewis] Hamilton," said Coe, who has been speaking at the European Athletics Forum for Young Leaders in Sport being held here in accompaniment to the European Championships.

"Great duels are that extra something in sport."

There is, admittedly, a faintly ironic edge to Coe's statement given the relative infrequency with which he and his great rival of the time, Steve Ovett, met on the track.

Coe added that Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run under four minutes for the mile and a gold medallist at Berne in 1954 at the last European Championships to be held in Switzerland, was one of his great role models.

"He inspired every athlete of my generation," said Coe, who first broke the mile record in the 25th anniversary year of the Four Minute Mile.

"If it was not for him, an Australian would have become the first human to run the mile in less than four minutes.

"That would have been hard to swallow for us British.

"Without Roger, the history of the mile would be less British. I always call him the Senior Partner of all great British runners.

"We all look up to him."

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have expressed their regret at the withdrawal of Nigeria and Sierra Leone from Nanjing 2014 because of the Ebola crisis but claimed they needed to think about the health of competitors from other countries.

Both countries pulled out of the Summer Youth Olympic Games, which are due to start in the Chinese city on Saturday (August 16), last night.

Sierra Leone claim they were advised not to take part by the Chinese Government, while Nigeria withdrew after their athletes were "quarantined, isolated and barred from training alongside athletes from other countries" in Nanjing, according to officials. 

Sierra Leone's delegation returned home while in transit and are now back in Freetown.

Nigeria's team are making arrangements to travel home from China. 

"The IOC is working closely together with NYOGOC (Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee) and the Chinese authorities to find the right balance - always under the guidance of the World Health Organisation," and IOC spokeswoman told insidethegames.

"We clearly need to balance the safety of all the participants with the rights of the young athletes from the countries affected.

"We regret they could not take part and we understand they are suffering twice, with the outbreak in their country and then not being able to compete.

"Working closely with the NOCs (National Olympic Committees) we will make sure that these young athletes aren't forgotten and we will look into ways to help them get over this disappointment."

More than 1,000 people have died in an Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has touched Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria.

It is not clear whether Guinea and Liberia will also be forced to withdraw.

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OF all the subjects written for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) this year, the results of physical education and sport were the best overall.

Public information officer for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Cleveland Sam yesterday issued a news release revealing CSEC’s statistics and analysis.
This year, there were 142,884 candidates—41 per cent male and 59 per cent female.
Mathematics was the largest subscribed subject, with 98,542 entries; followed by English A and social studies.
The CSEC exam is written in 19 Caribbean countries and 35 subjects are offered on the syllabus.
Sam said since 2012, there was an upward trend in the exam, with 66 per cent achieving grades one, two and three. Last year, 65 per cent received those grades; and in 2012, some 62 per cent.
Sam said: “Of the subjects offered, performance improved in 12, declined in 19 and remained constant in five.”
He said 99 per cent of the 10,000 entries for physical education and sport received the top three grades compared with last year’s 94 per cent. Theatre arts was the subject with the next best results, with 94 per cent obtaining acceptable grades; followed by food and nutrition, with 91 per cent.
Sam said: “Mathematics saw the most improved performance of all subjects offered in 2014 compared with 2013.
“Forty nine per cent of entries achieved grades one to three, which is a 14 per cent improvement over 2013.
The Subject Awards Committee attributed the performance to improvement in most areas on the exa­mination with the exception of trigonometry and geometry.”
Additional mathematics also recorded an improved performance, he said.
Performance in English A saw a one per cent improvement, and there was a marginal decline in English B, Sam said. There was improvement in chemistry and physics, but a decline in biology.
All the subjects in the business cluster recorded a decline in performance.
Sam said: “The Subject Awards Committee noted that questions relating to the business environment, exchange rates, economic integration and balance of payments posed challenges to candidates. Candidates were also challenged by topics such as financial services, closing stock, and operating balances.”
With the exception of visual arts, the subjects relating to expressive arts recorded improved performance. There were mixed performance in the technical and vocational subjects, and a decline in performance in humanities.
According to Sam, “Performance in geography remained steady over the two-year period, at 67 per cent.
“The Subject Awards Committee noted once again that there is a general weakness in map reading, physical geography and exposure to field work.
During the Final Awards Committee meeting, it was noted that several teachers of geography are not geography graduates, and this impacts their ability to adequately deliver the syllabus.”


On Monday, the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) will be officially releasing results during a function in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The event will be streamed online.

World junior silver medallist Dylan Carter will be the flag bearer for the Trinidad and Tobago contingent at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
Some 4000 athletes from 204 countries from around the world have converged in  the southern  Chinese city for the second edition of the 15-day quadrennial Games,  whose inaugural event was in Singapore in 2010.
Carter will represent the red,  white and black in the parade of teams and national sporting organisations (NSOs) at the Nanjing National Sports Center Stadium in front of an expected capacity crowd in the 60,000-seater venue.
Carter,  this country's top junior swimmer who competed in his first senior open meet for T&T at the recently concluded Glasgow Commonwealth Games, is spearheading  the 11-member T&T YOG team that also includes fellow swimmers David Mc Leod and Johnnya Ferdinand; track and field athletes Jeminise Parris, Kashief King,  Aduwelle Wright,  Akani Hislop and Chelsea James; beach volleyballers Chelsi Ward and Malika Davidson; and sailor Abigail Affoon.
On the eve of the opening ceremony,  all athletes will mingle and mix in the YOG "Let's Get Together Festival" at the Youth Olympic Village square,  a welcome session for the athletes,  put on by the YOG Cultural and Education Programme (CEP) where the Young Ambassador Jeannette Small will be performing.

Interested persons can follow the progress of the T&T team at the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee social media websites, twitter  www.ttoc.org and the Games' website www.nanjing2014.org/en
The action at the Games gets underway Sunday with Mc Leod in the Men's 100m backstroke preliminaries and opening round beach volleyball encounters for Ward and Davidson.

Trinidad and Tobago will be well represented in today’s Limacol Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 final as T&T skipper Denesh Ramdin will lead the Guyana Amazon Warriors against T&T teammate Kieron Pollard, who captains the Barbados Tridents.

 

The two sides meet at Warner Park in St Kitts from 4 p.m. for the CPL title and a place in this year’s Champions League T20. The big-hitting Tridents, who boast T&T players Ravi Rampaul, Rayad Emrit, Akeal Hosein and William Perkins among its line-up, will be looking to replicate their group stage form and make the most of their week-long preparation.

 

However, the Warriors are equally confident following their demolition job of the Jamaica Tallawahs in the second semi-final on Thursday.



Ramdin’s team, which also includes T&T players Lendl Simmons (the leading run-scorer in the competition) mystery spinner Sunil Narine and pacer Navin Stewart, defeated the Tallawahs by ten wickets with more than five overs to spare to reach today’s final.

 

Pollard said they are up against a quality team and will have to be at their best if they want to come away with the trophy. “The Warriors played very well (Thursday night), but I am not worried. We will do our preparation and get ourselves ready for playing them, but we are going to concentrate on our strengths rather than worry too much about theirs,” said Pollard.

 

“They beat us at home a few weeks ago, so we know we will have to bring our ‘A Game’ on Saturday to win. They do have dangerous bowlers in the form of Narine and (Krishmar) Santokie, however, when the bad ball comes, we will look to capitalise on it and it should be an exciting match,” he added.

 

The Tridents also welcomed their week long break which was their reward for topping the six-team standings to book their place straight to the final. “Preparations have been good this week and we have welcomed the break after playing so many games in quick succession at the end of the group stages,” said Barbados Tridents coach, Robin Singh.

 

“We have some players who have done really well throughout the tournament such as Jason Holder and Kieron Pollard, but we will be looking to prepare all of our players to be their best in the final,” Singh added.

 

Ramdin said the Warriors are wary of the batting strength of the Tridents’ but is confident his bowlers can handle the pressure and deliver victory. “The Tridents have a very strong batting line up and the toss again will be crucial. There are two good teams in the final, both playing well, and whoever handles the pressure better, will win,” said Ramdin.

 

“Santokie and Narine have been bowling well so we will also be looking for them to carry their good form into tomorrow’s (today) match,” he added.

 

It is the second time the Warriors will be in the CPL final and they will be hoping to avoid making the same mistakes they made last year which saw them lose to the Tallawahs. “This time around we will be looking to produce our best cricket when it counts,” said Guyana Amazon Warriors coach Roger Harper.

 

“We will not necessarily be looking to do anything different to what we have done previously in the tournament, but we will think about the Barbados Tridents and fine tune our plans so we are ready,” Harper added.

BRIAN LEWIS, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC), has issued a call for the stipulations for Elite Athlete Assistance Programme (EAAP) to be adhered to so no other local athlete will go through what national 110-metres hurdles record holder Mikel Thomas has had to endure.

Thomas, based in the United States, has not received funding since May 2013 and was recently evicted from his apartment due to non-payment of rent. The 26-year-old has had to sell his car and is currently using a bicycle to commute in an effort to cut his costs.

On June 7 this year, Newsday exclusively highlighted Thomas’ financial plight. The hurdler was forced to use a fund-raising website to help him purchase a plane ticket back to Trinidad to compete at the National Track and Field Championships.

The University of Kentucky graduate was ranked as high as fourth in the world in 2012 and won gold at the Gugle Games in July this year in Austria.

Thomas’ financial situation seems to have definitely had a negative effect on his form on the track though as he failed to make it past the preliminary round at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last month. After registering the 11th fastest time in the world for 2013 (13.19 seconds), this season he has recorded a mere 13.42 seconds, the 30th fastest. Speaking with Newsday on Monday, Lewis lamented Thomas’ plight but still believes the EAAP in its current existence can still work.

“There is a structure in place that deals with the Elite Athletes Assistance Programme. It is a public document. The Cabinet guidelines on that indicate a criteria. In the main, that has worked for a number of athletes who have met the criteria however there are some athletes who have had some difficulties. Once that system is working how it is supposed to work, athletes who met the criteria ought not to have difficulties,” he said.

Lewis noted though a critical aspect of the process is the National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) involvement and an endorsement by the TTOC before the application goes to Ministry of Sport for determination of the disbursements of funds.

“If it has not come to the NSO or TTOC then we cannot monitor it. That is important. (When) athletes go directly to the Ministry which is not in accord with the Cabinet approved guideline then it would be difficult for the NSO or TTOC to monitor,” he explained. Asked whether the embarrassing situation Thomas has had to go through could dissuade other athletes from choosing to represent this country in the future, Lewis remained optimistic that it would not.

“I don’t think it would. Once there is an understanding of what is the proper process then the Elite Assistance Programme is meant to work and deliver. Once that process is followed and the guidelines are followed I don’t see why there should be issues,” he added. “The environment that we have here in TT has proven (successful) for the athletes that have had to make that choice in the past — whether it be an Ato Boldon, a Njisane Phillip or a Mikel Thomas,” he continued.

In conclusion, Lewis stated that what is important is that the Elite Athletes guidelines and the contributions of the NSOs and TTOC must not be circumvented and all parties must stick to their portfolios. “Overall, I am very confident that we have the platform and foundation to build upon. There are areas that require improvement but we are on course. It doesn’t mean all is well but once there is cooperation of the stakeholders we have a good thing going. I think that some of the problems that occur is when there is a misunderstanding of the roles and responsibilities. I think the Sports Company and Sport Ministry are facilitators and that the NSOs should be allowed to be responsible for administrating managing and governing their respective sports,” he declared.

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