St Lucia’s withdrawal from hosting the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games was a “big disappointment”, newly-elected Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President Louise Martin said today, while claiming a successful event here will encourage more countries to enter the race to replace the Caribbean nation.

Speaking ahead of the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 Games, which takes place later today, Martin, who was chosen as the new CGF President at the organisation’s General Assembly in Auckland, hopes the spectacle put on by Samoa over the next seven days will prompt further interest in future editions of the event.

The Caribbean island had been awarded the 2017 Games in November 2011 but its preparations were hit by doubts over venues and financial concerns, particularly over the lack of a stadium to host athletics.

Their decision to pull out was made during the CGF General Assembly in a video message from St Lucia's Prime Minister Kenny Anthony.

Canada and Scotland are said to have expressed an interest in hosting the 2017 Games, with Martin saying there are a further two who have been in contact.

“It was a big disappointment not just for us as a Federation but also the St Lucian people,” Martin told insidethegames.

“They tried very hard to get it sorted but they have given us enough time to find someone else to host it and I’m convinced we’ll have a great host in 2017.

“This event has so much potential and I know there are countries who will be inspired by what they see here in Samoa and will want to take the Commonwealth Youth Games on in future.”

Despite hosting the Pacific Games on two occasions - in 1983 and 2007 - Samoan President Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also chair of the Organising Committee, believes the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games will be the biggest sporting event ever to be held on the island.

Around 1000 athletes, aged between 14 and 18, from 66 Commonwealth nations will compete for 107 gold medals during the competition, with Samoa’s contingent of 117 set to be the largest to participate.

“This is the biggest sporting event that we have ever hosted,” he said.

“Samoa is proud to once again lead the Pacific in a regional first as we host the Commonwealth Youth Games and welcome more than 1,000 athletes and officials from across the globe.

“After the successful United Nations Small Island Developing States Conference last year, we are confident that all athletes, officials and new visitors to our country will take away fond memories, new friendships and great experiences of their time in Samoa.

“Hosting the Games is a big task but we joyfully take responsibility for it.”

The Opening Ceremony takes place at the Apia Sports Complex tonight and will be streamed live by local broadcaster TV 1 Samoa.


...blind, courageous, gifted, determined

Loosing your ability to see must be one of the toughest challenges to overcome. Just imagine losing your sight in your early thirties like Carlos Greene.

Born and raised in Waterloo, Carapichaima, central Trinidad, where he resides with his family, 46-year-old Greene became blind in 2000, within the space of four months, due to acute glaucoma. Losing his sight and his subsequent determination to overcome his disability has led to Greene, a Humming Bird Silver Medal awardee, becoming a top paralympic athlete over the years.

Greene recently represented us at the Toronto Parapan Games where he missed medaling by a narrow margin (ten centimetres) in the shot put event since an injury prevented him from competing in his pet event—powerlifting, for which he has become well known on the world circuit.

When Greene became blind over 14 years ago, he found an emotional outlet through exercise (the gym in particular). It quickly became a form of therapy for him. He said that when he exercises, he is on a natural "high". His instructors at the gym encouraged him to enter a competition and he has never looked back since.

His wife of 21 years and his three daughters are a tremendous source of inspiration to him. He is adamant about showing his children and others that a disability is no excuse to not strive to be the best. He also believes that his discipline, his training, and his eventual success will be a source of inspiration for all.

Over the past nine years, he has competed and medalled at several regional and international competitions. At the majority of these competitions Carlos was the only blind competitor. Among the many places he has competed are Guatemala, New Zealand, Aruba, Florida, Delhi, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands, London and most recently, at the Parapan Games in Toronto.

Some of his gold medal performances: 2008 at the IBSA International Blind Sports Association/IPF World Powerlifting Championships, Miami, Florida, where he broke 11 world records to become the first powerlifter to win a gold medal for T&T in a World Championship Event; 2009, the IBSA International Blind Sports Association/IPF 2009 World Powerlifting Championships, Miami, Florida, breaking seven world records; 2011, North American Powerlifting Federation/International Powerlifting Federation (NAPF/IPF) Championships, Miami, Florida; 2013, 11th Annual North American Powerlifting Federation/International Powerlifting Federation (NAPF/IPF) Championships.

 In 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012, he was nominated for the “Sportsman of the Year” Award. Thus far, he is the Caribbean’s only blind professional powerlifter. In July 2012, Greene participated in the American track and field paralympic trial, where he won a Silver Medal in the shot put and Bronze Medal in the discus event. He is currently in training for the 2016 Paralympics Games, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Q: Tell us a bit more about yourself. For example, where did you grow up, your schooling, meeting your wife, your children/family?
A: Carlos Greene was born in a little sugar cane and fishing village called Waterloo. I have five brothers and two sisters. I spent my first few years with my grandparents. I have always been involved in sport from a young age, and I have always been involved in community work.
I went to Waterloo Presbyterian School and represented the school in football, cricket, volleyball and running. Then I went to Chaguanas Junior Secondary and continued to represent in football, cricket, running and table tennis. I graduated from Junior Secondary and I received an award for physical education.

Then I went to Carapichaima Senior Comprehensive, where I represented in football, badminton and running, and eventually captained the football team. I then spent two years at the Presto Presto Youth Camp where I studied tailoring and represented the camp in running and table tennis.I met my wife in October 1989, and we got married in August 1993. We have three beautiful children, Rebekah, Reanna and Renee. Reanna was just successful in her SEA exam and she passed for her first choice, Bishop Anstey High School, Port-of-Spain. I am so proud of her.

As a blind person, what are some of the challenges you face both in your daily life and in your sport?
As a blind person, especially living in T&T, it is hard because the physical infrastructure (eg sidewalks, no building codes) is not designed for us. Vendors in the street block walkways, sidewalk DJs make it impossible to hear when you walk the street, disrespect by the heads of the same sporting associations that we represent. I have appealed to the authorities and even spoken to those sidewalk DJs. I keep pushing and not accepting the limits that are placed on me. I do see some little glimpses of hope that can make a better future.

When and how did you come to be involved in the sport of powerlifting?
After joining the gym in January 2003, I remembered a young instructor by the name of Justin Joseph telling me, “Do you know how strong you are? I have seen men in here for years and have never see them move weights like you. You should compete in an upcoming powerlifting championship.” 

He left only to return with the head instructor, Juan Carve, and my personal instructor, Kevin Da Costa, only to ask, "Would you think about competing?" My immediate response was, "I have nothing to lose." And the journey into the life of Carlos Greene, the strong man, began. I remember clearly 2004, 2005, there were no championships in T&T, then I heard of the North American Powerlifting Federation hosting a championship in Puerto Rico in 2006.

Immediately, I began to prepare for this championship. Then two months before the championship, I fell into an open manhole. The next three months was spent in bed, and thoughts of my powerlifting championship were dying. The moment I felt a bit better, I was in the gym. I missed the 2006 championship, but my heart was now set on the 2007 championship in Guatemala. In 2011, a new desire erupted in me to be the first blind person from the Caribbean to win a paralympic medal. By 2012, I was competing in the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

What are your most prized possessions: one tangible, one intangible?
Intangible is the human spirit. Many people always ask me how I overcame, and I cannot take much praise for it because I got that strength from something within that was built in from creator God. When parents talk to me, they say thank you for inspiring my son and making an impact on society. My tangible possessions are the numerous medals and awards and honors that were given to me as I represented T&T, and won at various events.

What advice would you give to someone contemplating a vocation/career such as yours?
Firstly, I would tell them do not look at the glamour that comes across on the TV. The life of the athlete is not easy, one bad move or one injury and it can all be over. I will never discourage a young person that is coming into sport.  I would also tell them to add education as a tool, believe in yourself and work hard, and it will all be possible.

What are a couple of your most memorable performances?
My first two memorable performances were my first two major championships, Guatemala 2007 and Christchurch, New Zealand, 2007. I remember working hard to go to Guatemala and walking the streets and people asking me “Why are you here?” And when I told them, they said that it is impossible for me to compete as a blind man.

I remember in Guatemala, one Saturday evening, when my name and country was called. I walked out with the coach, he said to me that I am on my own now and my knees buckled. I called on all my strength as I walked under the bar, and as the judge said squat and I squat, the crowd erupted.

It was almost the same in New Zealand six months later. I did not win, I came second on both occasions. However, everyone said that I was the real winner. Everyone wanted photos with me, and I could not even get to the washroom because I was bombarded. The New Zealand power lifting federation said they have never seen someone impact an entire arena like that.

Powerlifting isn’t just about moving a heavy thing—it’s about understanding how your body works in relation to timing and momentum and inertia, and basically the physics of movement. 

Tell us about that.
It is proven that when someone loses his sight, that coordination and direction also goes with it. Other than the dynamics to maintain a straight line with the weights, you have to train your body to stand erect and focus on that invisible line, it takes a lot of practice and determination and courage. Many people attempted to do the squat with their eyes closed and they were all unsuccessful for many different reason. I remember one coach saying he took the shot put and closed his eyes, and he couldn’t think of what was the next thing to do.

Tell us about your inspiration to do what you do so well.
Each person is born with specific gifts and talents and that is who or what makes you who you are. To me, it just comes naturally. When it all happened, I still can’t fully answer. I remember the first time I was asked to do powerlifting and I accepted the challenge, and I looked for someone to coach me with the shot put for five years, and then Lester Osuna answered the challenge.

Also, I had a dream from childhood to be a motivational speaker, and for many years, I did not have the courage to stand on a stage and face people. After a while, just like clockwork, everything began coming together. I believe it was the moment when I deleted “Can’t" from my vocabulary. We can be our largest obstacle and even deter ourselves from becoming the person who God has determined we should be.

Of all your accolades, prizes and awards, which do you rate as extremely special?
The Hummingbird Silver Medal that I received in the 2010 Independence Award ceremony. Because as a child, I looked at the Witco sportsman and sportswoman award and Independence award ceremony and dreamt that someday that the President of our twin island republic will pin a medal on my chest.

What is the best compliment you have ever received?
In 2012, I represented T&T at the Arnold Sports Festival in the Pro Deadlift category. Each year they chose five lifters from different parts of the world to compete on this stage. I was invited in 2012 and a few days after arriving at the Arnold Sports Festival, I met one of the organisers, Brad Gillingham, a world champion and hall of famer and world record holder.

He said to me that afternoon that they were looking for people to be invited to the event and, for some reason, my name stood out in his head and when he mentioned it, all the organisers agreed. He then said, “Carlos, I am honoured to have you at this event.”

Upcoming events?
I am focused on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Before that, I may participate at the world Track and Field Paralympic Games in October, and other championships, yet to be decided, that would build up to Rio 2016.
What advice would you give to aspiring athletes?
Be focused, determined, persevere, and follow your dreams. Life as an athlete is not easy but once we are determined to make it, sport has the ability to transform a simple person into a legend, with lots of rewarding moments.

What goals and/or plans do you still have?
Some of the goals that I still have are to see a stadium built in my area (maybe with my name on it), becoming a full-time motivational speaker, and running programmes in schools and correctional institutions for young people.

Describe yourself in two words, one beginning with C, the other with G, your initials.
The two words that will easily characterise me using my initials are Courageous and Gifted...if I may say so! (Laughing).

NOTE: The T&T Blind Welfare Association, of which Greene is a council member, recently launched its 100th year (1914-2014) commemorative publication. In it, Greene’s success story is highlighted.


High Performance Table Tennis Coach and International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Course Conductor Aleksey Yefremov of Belarus will continue his training sessions today in Tobago. This after the European who is being hosted by the T&T Table Tennis Association (TTTTA) conducted training sessions to invited players in Trinidad from Friday until yesterday.

A former national coach of India and Guatemala, Yefremov  certifies the highest grade of coaches for ITTF and conducts training camps worldwide. As a Belarus player he was a teammate of Vladimir Samsanov, a top world ranked player.

On Friday, he conducted sessions in the morning at Preysal Secondary School for the top Under Cadet and Mini Cadet players and continued in the afternoon sessions with the top Junior and Cadet players.

On Saturday, he held sessions  for juniors and Cadets at the Central Regional Indoor Sports Arena seniors in the afternoon at Preysal before moving to T&TEC Sports Club, Flament Street, Port-of-Spain on Sunday and Preysal on Monday. From until yesterday, he conducted sessions at CRISA and will now do sessions  in Tobago from today and Sunday at  Scarborough Secondary School.

Club coaches, national coaches and individual player coaches are invited to attend the sessions with their charges.


TRINIDAD AND Tobago football team coach Stephen Hart has slammed the decision by English League Two club Barnet FC to deny permission to wingback Gavin Hoyte to represent the “Soca Warriors” in their friendly football international against Mexico tomorrow at the Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah, United States.

In fact, Hart made it emphatically clear that he will not tolerate any form of disrespect by players and/ or clubs towards the team, especially with the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers slated to get going later this year.

According to a media release from the TT Football Association (TT FA) yesterday, “up to Friday Hoyte was in contact with the TT team manager William Wallace and all seemed set for his travel until he didn’t show up for his flight out of London along with fellow English-based pro Andre Boucaud.

Hoyte later admitted that the club had asked him to miss the encounter.

But there was no communication from the club and Wallace was not pleased that the decision was only taken at such a late stage.” Hart, in a media interview yesterday, confessed, “I was not pleased with how his club handled it. Basically they bullied the player. They told him he would be available and they would release him and then just hours before he is supposed to get on the plane they refuse to let him go and then you place the player in a situation where he is in a scrap with the club and the manager.

“I think that was very unprofessional and quite frankly they showed disrespect to the Trinidad and Tobago international programme because I am sure if it was England who called him, or Ireland or Wales, they would let him go,” Hart added. “It is certainly a situation that I am not going to look upon lightly with other players as well if it comes up. I will enter discussions with Gavin because he has to also put his foot down with the club.” The national team coach went on to say, “They didn’t say yes from the beginning because then they knew we could refer to the FIFA statutes.

Quite clearly going into World Cup is extremely important players are on top of their game and playing regularly for their clubs and of course we want to have proper relationships with the involved parties.

“There will be no situation like this come World Cup qualifying because we will have to know from the onset whether the player is coming or not and take action accordingly depending on the matter at hand,” Hart stated.

Hoyte’s brother Justin has been a regular member of the national team but he was not selected for tomorrow’s fixture.

Referring to the ongoing training camp at Salt Lake City, Hart noted, “I’m glad we got these days in because the altitude takes a bit of getting used to for the players.

They aren’t struggling but they have to adapt.” About the recalled trio of Trevin Caesar, Neveal Hackshaw and Marcus Joseph, the former Canada coach said, “they have done well. Caesar is coming in with a renewed energy and passion. I like how he has trained. Hackshaw has always been a player that seems to be all business. For a young man he has a very good professional attitude and I like that. “A lot of players when they look around at the squad, they realise there are new faces and there are positions to play for and fight for and this is essential for our team to move forward.”


TRINIDAD AND Tobago finally tasted victory yesterday at the Pan Am Junior (U-17) Water Polo Championships in Kingston Jamaica, the TT Boys team beating the hosts to finish the preliminary competition as the better of the two Caribbean squads. However, the joy in the TT camp was shortlived, as the TT Girls lost a very close game to Puerto Rico a defeat that consigned them to sixth and last among the female teams in the Pan American region.

The win over Jamaica broke a sequence of defeats for both teams stretching back seven days to the start of the tournament. With both teams having finished bottom of their respective five-team groups, yesterday’s meeting decided 9th and 10th places in the Boys division.

TT shot into a 6-2 lead at the end of the opening quarter, and they maintained the five-goal difference (9-5) at the half; three unanswered goals in the third extended the lead to 12-5, and though the Jamaicans edged them 4-3 in the final stanza, the TT boys came away comfortable 15-9 winners.

The TT Girls were next into the pool at Jamaica’s National Aquatic Centre yesterday, battling with the Puerto Ricans for fifth place among the six female teams that are contesting the championships.

In terms of goals scored, the match was a much tighter contest than their final round league clash on Monday, when Puerto Rico rallied down the stretch to win 17- 14. After the first quarter, Puerto Rico were just ahead, 3-2, and as TT matched them for goals in the second, they led 6-5 at the half.

In the third, the TT girls scored three times to their opponents’ two, thus drawing level 8-8; however, they were unable to sustain the effort and Puerto Rico pulled away in the final quarter (3-1) for an 11-9 victory and 5th place.

The championships conclude today with more playoffs for Pan Am rankings in both divisions, culminating in the male and female bronze medal matches and the two finals that will bring the curtain down on the competition.


Full credit to finalists Michele Lee Ahye, Kelly Ann Baptiste and Machel Cedenio, as well as our 4x100 ladies and 4x400 men’s team, which brought home medals from the World Championships in Beijing.

But we learnt one thing. There is a lot of work to be done ahead of next year’s Rio Olympics. Getting to the finals is a step in the right direction. It acts as a catalyst for the athlete, coach and management team to assess what needs to be done to turn finalists into medalists.

Cedenio, at 19, was seventh and can only improve with proper guidance. He will recall that earlier this year, he beat La Shawn Merritt but the American placed second in the final in a personal best time, ensuring that he was at his best for the Championships.

Next year will be similar but the rivalry becomes even more significant because it is the Olympic Games.

We must hope that the National Association of Athletic Administration (NAAA) works with the athletes for the future. Everyone needs to share a common goal. While some of these athletes will have managers with different mindset, the NAAA and the athlete must sit with the coaches and managers and set a clear pathway.

After the manager’s report on the World Championships is completed and addressed,  a meeting should be called as soon as possible. If the NAAA have to travel to meet the athlete and their team outside of T&T,  this must be a priority. I would suggest a team of three or four from the NAAA, comprising of highly influential and respected persons such as the president, Ephraim Serrette, and members such as Hasely Crawford, Dr Ian Hypolite and Dexter Voisin.

My other concern remains Keshorn Walcott, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist who failed to progress out of the first round. The most disturbing aspect is that this is the second World Championships where Walcott has struggled. His conqueror Kenya’s Julius Vego in 2012 finished 12th in the Olympic final.

At the press conference for the 2012 final, I recall that the first three were on stage and a number of questions were thrown by the Kenyan contingent, asking for tips on how to improve their thrower. This was a novel event for the Kenyans and you could see they were attempting to acquire as much knowledge as possible. To their credit, their athlete improved tremendously, not only throwing in excess of 92 metres but he is also the reigning Commonwealth Champion, where he also beat Walcott.

Unless Walcott does something quickly, he may find himself having to play second fiddle to the consistent Yego.

Walcott’s first throw was his longest but sadly he lost his balance and overstepped and so it was considered a foul throw and he nevered recovered. Similarly on Yego’s first throw, he fell and it was also declared null and void  but he recovered to make the final and then a few days later regained his composure to win.

 Walcott will have to examine his training regime. He cannot expect to gain in this country and must travel to Europe and get match fit and ready. As good as his local coach is, there is nothing to beat experience.  I also believe that because of early success, Walcott needs guidance and counseling and if it is that he cannot or will not listen to the NAAA, then another avenue has to be sought. The Olympic Committee president  Brian Lewis is very athlete driven and focused and I am certain he will ensure that a requisite team is put in place to assist some of the obvious needs of Walcott.

I believe that psychologist Dr Margaret Ottley should be hired immediately and brought home for the next ten to 12 months to work with as many athletes as possible in time for Rio.

Talent alone will not do it, we have to have the mental and emotional strength to go with it.

Without a doubt, our men’s 4x400 metres relay team can win gold in Rio. This current team of Renny Quow, La Londe Gordon, Deon Lendore, Machel Cedenio and Jarrin Solomon can reap success.

Once Jehue Gordon is fully recovered from his latest injury and with his studies completed, 2016 should be a strong year for him. His event was one of the few where the times were not as good as when he won in Moscow, which augurs well for him.

It was good to see the NAAA taking the bold step of incorporating some of our former athletes into their system. We have seen Niconnor Alexander getting involved and most recently Ato Boldon with the women's relay team. This group can become a long term core for success and with the leadership of Baptiste and the likes of Lee Ahye,  Hackett, Thomas, Khalifa St Fort and Kamira Durant, there is a lot to smile about.  

It looks promising, but as most men know, looks are sometimes deceiving.