José Joaquín Puello, a 75-year-old neurosurgeon from the Dominican Republic, has emerged as a candidate to succeed Julio Maglione as President of the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO).

Read more: Puello confirmed as candidate for PASO Presidency

Tobago’s Akeem Stewart was rewarded for his double gold medal success at the Para-Pan Games in Toronto in August with a cheque for US$6,000 presented by the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Brian Lewis at the Conference Room of the Division of the Education, Youth Affairs and Sport in Scarborough, Tobago on Thursday.

Read more: Stewart gets Para-Pan double gold bonus

Njisane aiming to complete Pan Am set with gold in 2019

Njisane Phillip may have been pipped to the gold medal by Canadian Hugo Barette at the recently-concluded Pan American Games, but he’s still confident of winning gold at the event in four years’ time.

The Trinidad and Tobago sprint cyclist improved on his bronze medal performance from 2011 in the match sprint, pedalling away with the silver medal at last month’s Games in Toronto, Canada.

“To me it was a great experience and I really enjoyed it,” he said. “Hugo and I actually trained a couple years together in Los Angeles, and he got the better of me this time,” said Phillip.

However, the narrow defeat hasn’t dampened the ambition of the current national champion. “It was great competition though, I left everything on the line and I’m happy with it.”

His attitude exemplifies his professionalism, and appetite for competition. “You know, I love competition, so I’m always down for being able to compete at the highest level,” added Phillip. “I try to stay focused and improve in areas that I need improving.”

At the moment, Phillip is currently 32nd in the UCI rankings in sprint cycling. The UCI ranking system is what allows cyclists to qualify for the various World Cups and regional cycling championships, such as the Pan Am Games. Participation in these competitions give cyclists the opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games.

“Currently my ranking is not where it should be right now,” he said. “I had a late start to the season, and I think towards the end of the season I would be able to go into the top-ten of the rankings and that’s definitely one of my aims.”

The next competition on the calendar for the Rigtech Sonics rider is the Pan American Cycling Championships next month in Chile. “I have a lot of workouts this year, and I’m really looking forward to the end of the season because I think it will be a great one for me.”

The Pan American Cycling Championships takes place in Santiago, Chile from September 1-6.


Championship medals don't happen by chance, especially in an event with as many variables as the sprint relay. At the recently held Pan Am Games in Toronto, Trinidad and Tobago came home with two relay medals, gold in the men’s 4x400 and bronze in the men’s 4x100. Sprint relay events are always tricky because of the number of variables involved. Not only do competitors have to run fast, they must also get the baton around the track without leaving their lanes, and in the case of the 4x100 within a clearly demarcated “take over zone.” Failure to do either of these things can result in disqualification.


Putting together a successful relay team is also not simply a matter of selecting your fastest runners.  Nic-Connor Alexander, Olympian, former NCAA Division 2 champion in the 100 and 200metres and a certified USATF and IAAF coach, who is based at ZC Athletics in San Fernando was in charge of the men’s 4x100 team at Pan Am. Of putting together the relay team Alexander who has over fifteen years of sprinting experience, and who gave up a vacation to coach the team said, “Putting together a relay team is not as easy as one would think. As coaches we need to know the strengths and weaknesses of the six people that make up the team. With the absence of Richard Thompson and Marc Burns, we had to rebuild the team and get it right within a few days. During practice everyone ran in different positions before we came up with the final order. For the semi-final race we had four possible combinations that that we could have run depending on the outcome of races that ran earlier that day.”


The relay team of Keston Bledman, Rondel Sorillo, Emmanuel Callendar, Dan-Neil Telesford and silver medallist in the men’s 110 hurdles Mikel Thomas qualified easily for the finals by winning their semi-final in a time of 38.52 with few hiccups in getting the baton around the track. On the night of the finals, Thomas was given a well-deserved rest with Rondel Sorillo, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callendar and Dan-Neil Telesford stepping up to finish the race in a time 38.69.  Unofficial results had them as fourth, an agonizing .01 seconds outside of the medals with Canada first, the United States second and Brazil third. Alexander however like his coaching counterparts from the USA and Brazil had spotted an infraction by the Canadian team during their third hand over.


Along with coaches from the USA and Brazil, Alexander asked for a formal review of the race and was told that each coach would have the opportunity to review the race individually. Alexander spotted the infraction after a close review and told the guys, “We may get a medal so don’t worry,” although he was really thinking I am not leaving here without a medal. When the race referee refused to let an official from the USA review the race after Alexander and his Brazilian counterpart spotted infractions, a formal protest was launched. That challenge was ultimately successful and Canada was disqualified for leaving their lane. Antigua and Barbuda were also disqualified for passing the baton outside the takeover zone, leaving the United States with the gold, Brazil with the Silver and Trinidad and Tobago with the bronze.


While we are no stranger to medal upgrades, Alexander insists that Trinidad and Tobago has the quality to consistently medal in the relays on the international stage. “There is one change that we need to make before we head to the World Championships in August. All we have to do now is practice, practice and practice some more and we should be coming home with another medal in the men's 4x100m.”


Sprinter and relay bronze medallist, Callendar added, “There are rules in every sport and we have to abide by it. It’s not the way we expected to win but we’ll take this bronze; and continue moving forward to every meet, trying to perfect our chemistry so by the time world championships comes around we can get the gold.”


The world Championships are scheduled to take place in Beijing China from August 22nd to August 30th 2015, and Alexander believes that more training camps for our relay athletes throughout the year can only be an asset in building the chemistry and belief that is needed for relay success.

President of the National Association of Athletic Administration Ephraim Serrette hopes that T&T’s performance at the recently concluded Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada will be a stepping stone for bigger things to come. T&T’s squad bagged eight medals at the meet, a national record, including six in track and field to rank 15th out of 29 countries overall.

Looking ahead to next month’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing and further down the road to the Olympics in Rio next year, Serrette said the country’s athletes were showing a lot of promise. “It was an exceptional performance,” he said. “The athletes did us proud and it augers well for the future.”

The track and field athletes won three gold medals (Kershorn Walcott (Javelin), Cleopatra Borel (Shot Put) and the 4x400 metres relay quartet of Machel Cedenio, Jarrin Solomon, Renny Quow and Lalonde Gordon. Mikel Thomas (110 Hurdles) and Machel Cedenio (400m) won silver. However, he noted that a different standard of competition would await them in Beijing.

“The Pam Am Games are something of a dress rehearsal for the World Championships, but we have to remember that the Americans and Jamaicans sent second and third string teams. They were still strong but a lot of big names were missing. It served as good preparation but our athletes who medalled will now have to turn up a gear to succeed on the world stage.”

Serrette commended the T&T Olympic Committee for recently launching its medal incentive programme, which he felt had had its desired effect. “I can’t say exactly how much it influenced the athletes but it was a good gesture by the TTOC,” he said. He added that he hoped to see improvement from the Women’s 4x100m team, which did not complete its semifinal in Toronto.

“I hope they will go back to drawing board,” he said. “We had high expectations from them after they won bronze at the IAAF World Relays in May. Now with Kelly Ann (Baptiste) and Semoy (Hackett) back on the team, they should be a very strong unit.”