WOMEN’S track and field sprinter Kelly-Ann Baptiste will join legendary swimmer George Bovell III as the most capped TT Olympian, as she is set to make her fifth appearance at the 2020 Tokyo Games, from July 23-August 8.
A media release by the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) on Wednesday, said, “Bovell made five consecutive appearances starting with the 2000 Sydney Olympics followed by his historic bronze medal effort at the 2004 Athens Games (in the 200-metre individual medley), team TTO’s sole medal for that edition of the Olympics.”
Bovell III did not let an injury deter him from continuing his swimming career as he switched focus to another event.
“After an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury in September 2004, Bovell was forced to change his specialty from the endurance-testing 200m individual medley to the 50m freestyle dash. He still qualified and splashed into action in the 2008 Beijing Games (semi-final) and 2012 London Games (seventh) before hanging up his goggles and cap following a first round exit at the 2016 Rio Olympics.”
Reflecting on Baptiste’s Olympic career the release said, “Baptiste will also be making five consecutive appearances in a record that saw her making her Olympic debut as part of the women’s 4x100m relay team at the 2004 Athens Games when the powerful Tobago-native led off the relay team that failed to carry the baton all-the way round and were disqualified in the first round.
“Four years later at the 2008 Beijing edition, she reached the second round in the individual event while another baton mishap saw another disqualification in the women’s 4x100m relay.”
She had her best showing at the 2012 Games. “Baptiste’s best Olympic performance came at the 2012 London Games where she finished sixth in the final but Team TTO’s women’s relay woes continued with another failed trip, and in 2016 Rio, she exited at the second round.”
Baptiste, 34, will again line up in the women's 100m dash and women's 4x100m relay team.
Baptiste is being described as the “stateswoman” of the TT Olympic contingent.
On Tuesday, the TTOC announced the full TT team that covers seven sporting disciplines including track and field, boxing, cycling, judo, rowing, sailing and swimming. TTOC president Brian Lewis hinted that TT may make history by naming its first women’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremony.
"To date, the TTOC has never had a female flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of a Summer Olympic Games," Lewis said.
"It is my sincere hope that a female athlete will be chosen by the chef de mission Lovie Santana to carry the TT flag during the opening ceremony in Tokyo 2020."
TT will have Santana, the experienced TTOC senior administrative officer, at the helm while TTOC project officer, athletes services and programmes, Rheeza Grant will serve as TT's covid19 liaison officer. TT will also rely on a strong medical staff of nine led by Dr Rudranath Ramsawak.
After the Games were rescheduled due to the pandemic, Lewis said, "The TTOC acknowledges the perseverance, dedication and determination of every athlete who tried their best to qualify for the covid19 pandemic impacted games, the first Olympic Games in history to be postponed."
This year's Olympic Games also hold special significance for the TTOC as it coincides with its 75-year anniversary.