With Trinidad and Tobago set to challenge for precious metal in the Tokyo 2020 Men’s 4x400 metres final, yesterday, disaster struck. Third leg runner Dwight St Hillaire suffered a leg injury.
With every stride, T&T’s chances of a top-three finish slipped further and further away. St Hillaire, though, was not prepared to give up the fight, completing his lap of duty and handing the baton to anchorman Machel Cedenio.
Well known for his prowess coming from behind, Cedenio set off in hunt of a medal. The gap, though, was far too large for any jaw-dropping heroics, and T&T had to settle for eighth spot in three minutes, 00.85 seconds.
“That’s track and field,” Cedenio told the Sunday Express, “that’s sport. Sometimes you come in as a favourite, you come in as a medal contender, and you fall short. But times like this make us stronger, and we just move on.”
United States ran away with gold in 2:55.70. Netherlands clocked a national record time of 2:57.18 to snatch silver, with bronze going to Botswana in 2:57.27—a new African record.
Deon Lendore had set the platform for T&T’s medal bid with a 44.35 seconds first leg run. Jereem “The Dream” Richards kept the team in contention on the second leg. On the third, however, things fell apart.
“It hurt to see Dwight pulling up,” said Lendore. “I congratulate him for finishing the run and allowing us to finish the race. But our focus now is on Dwight, making sure he recovers and is ready for next year. It hurts that we didn’t get to medal but you also have your team-mate’s best interest at heart. I don’t want Dwight to be down. I want him to know things happen.
“With a hurt guy,” Lendore continued, “we still ran three minutes flat. Seeing where we were before Dwight had his mishap, we felt we were going to run 2:57, if not 2:56. So we’re not too worried. Rest, recover and get ready for next year. We have a couple big meets—World Championships and Commonwealth Games—so we could look forward to that to redeem ourselves.”
At 23, St Hillaire is the baby on the team. He proved his worth in Friday’s qualifying round, splitting 44.29 seconds on the anchor leg in heat one. T&T clocked 2:58.60 for third spot and automatic qualification for the championship race.
Richards, a 200m finalist at Tokyo 2020, is excited about St Hillaire and what he brings to the table.
“For Dwight to be injured within a run and still be able to finish shows a lot of heart. Hats off to him. I definitely have high hopes for this team. We’re going to be around for a very long time. Going forward to all the meets next year and for years to come we’ll be a force to reckon with. It’s in our best interest to turn this struggle into something positive and motivational going forward.”
Team TTO chef de mission Lovie Santana was high in praise for St Hillaire.
“He is good, thank God. I just spoke to him, and he made my Games. He’s such a humble soul. I look forward to him competing in future Games. It’s a hamstring injury, but he’s hopping around on one leg and is ready to travel. Thus far, it’s nothing serious. Dwight is in good condition and a good frame of mind. He will do the relevant medical checks, and we will follow up even after his departure.”
The Games of the XXXII Olympiad end today with the closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, starting at 7 a.m. (T&T time). Tokyo 2020 has been a tough outing for Team TTO. Among the challenges faced were Covid-19 positives for long jumper Andwuelle Wright, hurdler Sparkle McKnight and jumps coach Wendell Williams. Wright and McKnight were unable to compete.
Santana told the Sunday Express, yesterday, that Wright, a first time Olympian, will carry the “Red, White and Black” at the closing ceremony.
Team TTO Schedule (T&T time)
Sunday, 7 a.m. – Closing Ceremony