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Three juniors retain No 1 rankings

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ARUN ROOPNARINE, Derron Douglas and Shreya Maharaj topped the rankings in their respective categories in table tennis for the second year in succession. Just as he had done in 2013, Roopnarine finished last year with the most points in the under-18 division, but he fell from the top spot in the under-21 category.
Arch-rival Aaron Wilson, the top under-13 player at the end ’13, defeated Roopnarine in the under-21 final of all three tournaments – Silver Bowl Championships, Tobago Open Championships and National Championships – to finish with a grand total of 2,450 points in his first year in the division.
Roopnarine was 650 points adrift in second but he accumulated 250 more than the Caribbean under-19 runner-up to remain the top under-18 player with 2,250 points. The 17-year-old beat Wilson in the final of “Silver Bowl” and “Nationals”, but came up second best when they clashed for the title in the Tobago Open. Savresh Mungal was a distant third in both categories.
After finishing just 50 points behind Nalini Boodoo in second in the under-18 division in the previous year, Brittany Joseph finished on top this time with 2,250, 750 clear of the second-placed Boodoo and Gyshan Latchman.
However, the two-time defending national under-18 champ fell to second in the under-21 division after totaling 1,700 points, 550 less than the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games representative Catherine Spicer, who beat her in the finals of the Tobago Open and “Nationals”. Joseph finished the year third in the senior rankings, while Roopnarine and Wilson ended up tied for second as Curtis Humphreys ended in the top spot for the fifth year in succession. After finishing 150 points ahead of fellow Tobagonian Messiah Walcott at the end of ’13, Douglas had an even tougher time against his arch-rival and only finished 50 points in front with 2,800 in the under-11 age-group.
And for the second year in a row, Maharaj, who ended with 2,650 points, topped the girls’ equivalent category by just 50 points. This time nine-year-old Priyanka Khellawan was second, while last year’s runner-up Surjah Welch ended up 500 points behind Maharaj in third. Benoni Daniel and Shanekah Johnson joined Douglas as end-of-year champs from the sister isle.
Daniel finished the year with 2,350 points, 100 more than nearest challenger Joshua Maxwell in the under-15 category.
After ending up a whopping 1,320 points behind Jasher De Gannes in second in the under-13 age-group last year, Johnson finished 200 ahead of her fellow Tobagonian this year with 2,250. They contested two finals and split the meetings, but Johnson missed the Tobago Open and last year’s Caribbean under-13 champ De Gannes did not defend her title in “Nationals.”
National C class champ Jesse Dookie tallied 2,350 points and beat out Welch’s brother Jakeem by 100 points to be the top under-13 player, while Danielle Dick was the top under-15 player with 2,700 points, 250 more than runner-up Boodoo. Wilson and Joseph will represent the sport in the First Citizens Junior Awards on Friday (Johnny see if you could find out the venue.




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Sunil, Mohammed steer T&T to Super50 title

Jason Mohammed’s maiden List A century and amazing figures of six wickets for nine runs from spinner Sunil Narine guided the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force to their 11th regional 50-over title via a comprehensive 135-run win over the Guyana Jaguars in the Nagico Sup50 final at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, yesterday.
The Red Force had Mohammed to thank for getting them a respectable total, the T&T vice-captain slamming six sixes and 11 fours in an unbeaten 117 off 132 balls to help the hosts recover from 53 for four off 18 overs to post 200 for eight off their 50 overs.
The Jaguars were eventually dismissed for 65 with Narine leading the charge and Dwayne Bravo and Jason Mohammed chipping in with two wickets each as they helped T&T wipe out the memories of their semi-final loss to the Barbados Pride at the same venue a year ago.
Mohammed stood out against a quality Guyana spin attack which included West Indies Test leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo and left-arm orthodox bowler Veerasammy Permaul, holding the T&T innings after some early setbacks.
Permaul collected three wickets for 22 runs from ten overs to keep the T&T batsmen in check but it was pacer Paul Wintz who pushed the home side onto the back foot. He had Evin Lewis trapped leg before wicket off the first ball of the match before sending back Darren Bravo for five, thanks to a good catch from substitute fielder Vishaul Singh, as T&T slipped to 14 for two in the seventh over.
A 38-run stand between Jeremy Solozano (21) and Mohammed revived the T&T innings but only for a while before the Jaguars spinners turned up the heat. Solozano was caught and bowled by Permaul while Steven Katwaroo fell to Royston Crandon for a nine-ball “duck” leaving the hosts in trouble at 53 for four after 18 overs.
But Mohammed defied the Guyanese bowlers cutting Bishoo to backward point for four to bring up his half century off 81 balls. He counted eight fours and a six at that stage with T&T on 98 for five off 32 overs. The T&T vice-captain accelerated towards the end, hitting two fours and two sixes off the final over to get the packed Oval crowd on their feet and boost the T&T score.
Narine then went to work snatching three quick wickets to put the brakes on the Guyanese innings as they slipped from 36 without loss to 39 for three in the space of three overs. The off-spinner had the aggressive Trevon Griffith caught by Kieron Pollard at first slip for a 28-ball 31, which included six fours, before removing Raymon Reifer (one) and Rajindra Chandrika (seven) both via the lbw route.
Dwayne Bravo got into the act with one that cut back to trap Guyana skipper Christopher Barnwell lbw for zero before Narine struck to remove the big wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul who was trapped lbw for seven as the Jaguars slipped to 49 for five after 15 overs.
A stunning one handed return catch by Dwayne Bravo sent Anthony Bramble packing for one before Narine completed his five-wicket haul when Royston Crandon edged a straight one behind to wicketkeeper Steven Katwaroo setting off early celebrations around the ground. Crandon was quickly followed by Permaul who was out lbw to Narine three balls later and the Jaguars had no way back.



Lewis ‘walks the talk’

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Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis battled two cramps and aching knees to finish his “walk the talk” mission when he crossed the finish line of the 26.2-mile Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon, yesterday.
Draped in the national flag and followed by an army of athletes, supporters and well-wishers, Lewis willed himself to complete a journey that started promptly at 3.30 a.m. yesterday at St Mary’s Junction, Freeport, and concluded almost seven hours later in the blazing sun in front Whitehall at the Queen’s Park Savannah.
The mission, to raise awareness of the #10gold24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation initiative, was complete. But it was anything but easy.
Lewis would say after the race: “I had to dig real deep. The pain from the cramps were so severe and after a while it actually felt that I had pulled my left hamstring in the last two miles. But quitting is not in my make up.”
Lewis would have been drawing on the memories of six marathons he had treked during his 20s and 30s. But Lewis, his knees and bones plundered by those same marathons and his sport of choice, the contact-filled rugby.
In the early morning darkness, Lewis embarked on his awareness trek with radio commentator Tony Lee,former CNC3 sports anchor Roger Sant, and top pistol shooter, Sgt Roger Daniel of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force— the only individual who would accompany Lewis the entire course.
The TTOC boss comfortably completed those initial miles, having prepared himself on a diet that included up to 16 mile walks to Maracas Bay.
Daniel, a T&T high performance athlete who won bronze at the CAC Games last November, was keeping Lewis up to his paces urging him to accelerate and go steady at set intervals, making sure the former rugby player was on target for his seven-hour goal time. “Get your arms into it,” Daniel would echo regularly.
At Munroe Road, Cunupia, Tony Lee had conceded way to TT Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene as Lewis chugged on in the darkness. Skeene gave way to former TTFA technical director Anton Corneal then, as dawn broke, to the ever chirpy Andre Baptiste, who gave regular radio reports by cellphone until the finish. A group of wrestlers donning “TTOC support” tee shirts had also joined.
At Mt Lambert, top T&T marathon swimmer Christian Marsden had inserted himself. A few minutes after was when Lewis started to experience his first difficulties. Even with supporters along the Eastern Main Road clapping and shouting their support, including a young girl who personally handed Lewis $84 for the Fund at a water stop in Champ Fleurs. the reality of dehydrating muscles descended on Lewis.
As Lewis and a growing entourage (his wife Sandra, parents of top junior swimmer Dylan Carter (Tracy and Everard) and school friend Anton La Fond) traversed San Juan, the accompanying WI Sports pick up tray turned into an impromptu stretcher as physio Roger Evelyn had to deep massage Lewis’ left hamstring in San Juan. “Whatever you do, make sure I am able to finish,” Lewis told the physio, Daniel and Baptiste.
Ten minutes after ingesting some salt, applying some sport rub and resuming his walk, Lewis was lying prostrate in the pick up again. But favouring that leg, Lewis still got up again and resumed the walk. As Lewis neared the 23-mile post, renowned flagman Joey Richardson had joined in on the South Quay stretch to Wrightson Road where Lewis recalled Marsden told him:”Mr Lewis, it takes two hands to clap. You are doing your part, we the athletes must do ours.”
The Lewis-led group proceeded to the 24-mile mark onto Ariapita Avenue then north to Cipriani Boulevard, past the 25-mile mark.
Lewis’ son, Aasan with his group of national 7s rugby team members, who had earlier completed the marathon, tacked back to join Lewis on the Queen’s Park West stretch to QRC. And on the final stretch to Whitehall, Richardson had started a chant “T&T, we want gold!” accompanied by the chorus of followers, all the way across the line.
“I am glad it (the walk) resonated so deeply with the public and it just goes to show there are still wonderful and tremendous people in this country who want to see the country progress,” Lewis said in a post-race interview. Lewis will be hoping the expressed goodwill converts into sustainable, tangible financial support, for T&T athletes in the coming years.



Cowie out World League Hockey qualifiers

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...Browne, Quan Chan return

T&T will be without the talented Darren Cowie and five other regulars for the FIH World Hockey League Round Two qualifiers set for Chula Vista, San Diego, California, USA, from February 28 to March 8.

This after Cowie, who led the team as captain to the Round One win in Jamaica last September and a silver medal at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in November, was forced to withdraw from the team due to work commitments.

In addition to Cowie, other members of the team who participated in the first-round series and the CAC Games in Mexico are also forced to pull out of the event. They include Aidan De Gannes, Christopher Scipio and Ishmael Campbell through work commitments, while Kiel Murray and Stefan Mouttet are injured.

However, making a return to the team are England-based Kwandwane Browne, Dillet Gilkes and Dwain Quan Chan, all of whom will be making their first tour together in over a year, while youngsters Joshua Olton, Kelon Skerritt and Teague Marcano have all been drafted into the training squad.

Francis also welcomed the introduction of the new faces in the training squad, saying, “The team is in transition at the moment as over the next couple of years, players like Browne and Gilkes and a few others will not be around, and it is hoped that these youngsters gain enough experience now to pick up where they leave.

“We have a lot of youth in the set-up now with the Emmanuel brothers, Kristin and Kwasi, Marcano boys, Tariq and Teague as well as Lyndell Byer, Joshua Olton and Kelon Skerritt, and they are all the future of T&T hockey.

In California, T&T will compete in one group with USA, Russia and Canada while Austria, Chile, Ireland and Italy are in the other round-robin group at the end of which the team will meet in cross-over quarterfinal matches followed by semifinals, third placed and final matches.

And looking ahead to the tournament, coach Glen “Fido” Francis,” who returns to lead the team after interim coach Raphael Govia coached the team through the round one series in Jamaica last year, said the group draw for the local squad is a tough one, but also presents a good chance to prove itself worthy of being involve.

“We will be the lowest-ranked team in the tournament and based on the new format we are already assured of a quarterfinal spot as only eight teams are involved.

“However, we want to get past that hurdle and reach the semifinals for the least.

“The current crop of players are a very good mix of youth and experience, but we still have lots of work to do as a team and for that we will need to the support of the powers that be financially,” he said.

A former national goalkeeper Francis also welcomed the return of Browne, who he says will bring a lot to the team.

Following the World League round-two series, the national men’s team is carded to head to the Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada, from July 10-26.

Men’s training squad


Ron Alexander, Kwandwane Browne, Cogie Butler, Lyndell Byer, Shaquille Daniel, Solomon Eccles, Kwasi Emmanuel, Kristen Emmanuel, Dillet Gilkes, Nicholas Grant, Dominic Jaikaransingh, Marcus James, Shane Legerton, Terrence Baptiste, Justin Pascal, Tariq Marcano, Che Modeste, Michael O’Connor, Allan Henderson, Mickell Pierre, Dwain Quan Chan, Jordan Reynos, Andrey Rocke, Karlos Stephen, Akim Toussaint, Jordan Vieira, Danil Trancoso, Dominic Young, Teague Marcano, Kelon Skerritt, Joshua Olton.​



Kenyans lead Marathon invasion

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When the gun goes off at 5.00 a.m. tomorrow at St Mary’s Junction, in Freeport, to signal the start of the 33rd Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon (TTIM) one can expect to see the charge being led by runners from the African continent.

Last year’s male and female winners, Hilary Kipchirchir Kimaiyo and Leah Kigen, both of Kenya, will be at the forefront of a another strong Kenyan entry, which will also include Mark Chepses, last year’s runner up.

While Kimaiyo, who came home half-a-minute ahead of Chepses in two hours, 23:39 seconds, will be looking for a repeat, all eyes will have to be on his fellow Kenyan who will be seeking to end his string of runner-up placing, three on the trot, and clinch his first crown.

Another returnee facing the starter will be Colombia’s Juan Carlos Cardona Rios, winner in 2013 but who had to settle for third place last year. Despite being a full three minutes behind Kimaiyo the Colombian will be determined to regain the crown he captured two year ago.

Among the regional runners are Jamaican Marathon winner Rupert Green and veteran Andrew Gutzmore, also of Jamaica. T&T’s flag will be flown by Curtis Cox, a former winner and a consistent top ten performer, and Cantius Thomas, who was sixth last year.

In the women’s version Kigen will be a heavy favourite to secure a hat-trick of wins. Her winning time of 3:01:13 was almost 22 minutes ahead of Canada’s Karen Downey (3:23:11), who is also in tomorrow’s line-up along with Juliet Dinnal of Jamaica.

In the half-marathon event, which has a 5.45 am start in front of the E-Tech Park, Frederick Settlement in Caroni, T&T’s Tonya Nero will be seeking her fourth consecutive crown, having won the last three editions.

Nero has so dominated the women’s half marathon that her winning time last year of 1:20:25 was a little over fourteen-and-a-half minutes clear of her nearest rival Celine Lestrade, who took the runner-up spot in 1:35:04. The two renew rivalry but Lestrade will be hard-pressed to reverse positions with Nero, who according to coach Paul Voisin, is confident of completing the beaver-trick.

And in the men’s half marathon, the top three in last year’s edition are set to do battle once again. The Guyanese pair of Kelvin Johnson and Lionel Dandrade were one-two with T&T’s Elvis Turner, third. With just over two minutes separating the trio last time around the probability of a new champion being crowned is very likely.

There will be no 5K event today (Sat) as is customary as TTIM’s organising committee took a decision to focus their efforts on the marathon and half marathon, as both run off on the same day.

This year’s race is being dedicated to the late Dana Seetahal, who was an avid recreational runner and who completed the marathon on several occasions. In her honour special prizes will be awarded to runners from T&T courtesy Mau Pau. These prizes will provide incentives to the top runners who are the best of the local contingent.

In addition to the 5.00 am start there will be a 3.30 am start to accommodate recreational walkers and runners who may have difficulty in completing the course in five hours. Among those who will be taking advantage of the 3.30 am start will be Brian Lewis, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, who’s on a drive to raise awareness for the Athlete Preparation Fund.

National Gas Company CNG, National Flour Mills, Blue Waters, Gatorade, Subway, American Stores, ScripJ, Ma Pau, the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Sport are among some of the sponsors who have all thrown their support behind this year’s edition. Both the marathon and half marathon will finish opposite Whitehall at Queen’s Park West in Port of Spain.