On behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) I extend best wishes to Trinidad and Tobago as we celebrate our 53rd Anniversary of Independence.
As the TTOC strives to be an athlete centred organisation that builds on public,private and social partnerships that widely benefit Trinidad and Tobago as a nation.
Our commitment is to contribute to building a peaceful ,sustainable and prosperous nation through sport .
At the TTOC we believe that our nation's youth and young people are at the heart of everything we do.
As our sportsmen and women push boundaries and challenge limits to deliver medal winning performances, their acheivements inspire  the youth of our nation in a transformational and impactful way to realise their own aspirations and ambitions.
Let us be bold,ambitious and optimistic about our future as a nation.
Let us harness,embrace and embed the power of sport to make a positive difference and a force for good.
Happy 53rd Anniversary of Independence Trinidad and Tobago.

The success of Usain Bolt and his fellow West Indian athletes in Beijing has brought cheer to fans weighed down by cricket's decline

 In 1967, the celebrated English author Neville Cardus wrote that no cricketer had "proven versatility of skill as convincingly as Sobers has done, effortlessly and after the manner born".

Through a career lasting 30 years in the second half of the 20th century, Garry Sobers, the multi-talented left-hander from Barbados, epitomised West Indies cricket while enhancing its already established global reputation for excellence.

Almost half a century on, towering sprinter Usain Bolt has become the Sobers of athletics. As Sobers did with cricket, Bolt, as the supreme exemplar of quality among the tiny Anglo-Caribbean territories, principally, but not exclusively, his own Jamaica, has inspired the upsurge of his sport.

Echoing Cardus' words on Sobers, Michael Johnson, the great American 400 metres champion, said of Bolt after his three gold medals at the ongoing IAAF World Championships in Beijing: "There's no one quite like him, not on the track and certainly not off the track." British Olympic gold medalist Kelly Holmes commented: "There are some people in this world who are superhuman." She might have been referring to Sobers.

Bolt's arrival and the surge of the exceptional runners, jumpers and throwers alongside him, has come precisely when cricket's once incomparable strength in the West Indies has rapidly withered, for a variety of mostly self-inflicted reasons.

Throughout the West Indies' prolonged periods of dominance, cricket was the passion of its fanatical public. Their initial triumph in a series in England in 1950 was a decisive breakthrough that brought forward a group of exciting players. In the 1960s, its exuberant style revitalised the sport in England and Australia, the game's originators. For 15 years, from 1980 to 1995, they did not lose a Test series.

Track and field has not yet created a select West Indian identity of its own, as cricket has done over the 115 years since the first combined West Indies team toured England

The outstanding players came from all over the region, from Jamaica in the north to Guyana on the South American mainland. Such fervour has wilted as, over 20 years, West Indies have tumbled from the top to ninth among ten Test and ODI teams; for the first time, they have failed to qualify for the eight-team Champions Trophy.

The performances of Bolt and other West Indians prominent at international athletics championships have lifted the despair of West Indians, for whom all else was once secondary to the exploits of their cricketers.

Quite apart from his speed, generated by long strides that cover the track like lightning, Bolt's obvious Caribbean sense of fun even in the most vital races, makes him the ideal energiser. Barring a false-start disqualification in the 2011 World Championships, he has been unbeaten for seven years in his favoured events, the 100 and 200m. His gold-medal tally in Olympics and World Championships is 18, among them five for Jamaica in the sprint relays. He holds the world records in both 100 and 200m.

Given the circumstances, his dismissals of the latest, most threatening, of his challengers, the twice-banned American Justin Gatlin, in their two confrontations in Beijing this week, were unforgettable moments. The cheers echoed loud through the Caribbean, not least from sad cricket devotees in need of a boost. 

In a West Indian context, there are unique, distinct differences between athletes, both male and female, who compete as individuals under the banners of their separate, independent nations and sing their own anthems, and the exclusively male cricketers who combine as one team under one flag with one anthem.

It predictably means that track and field has not yet created a select West Indian identity of its own, as cricket has done over the 115 years since the first combined West Indies team toured England.

Jamaicans still celebrate mainly Jamaican successes, which have been profuse, Trinidad mostly their own, and so on. Still, they are all West Indians and regarded as such by their neighbours. In cricket's present predicament, those who now defy the size of their Caribbean homelands to literally bestride the world on the track provide welcome incentive for a bit of bragging.

There are plain, contrasting reasons for the rapid reversal of roles of the two disciplines.

Jamaica's athletic eminence is derived principally from a strong schools programme that culminates in annual championships, known simply as "Champs". Preparation is intense, competition razor-keen. The attendance of some 20,000 at the National Stadium includes American talent scouts offering specialised scholarships at universities and colleges. Yet local coaching is of such a high standard and clubs so well organised that increasing numbers, among them Bolt, remain at home.

It is a template increasingly followed elsewhere, although the US remains a strong option for those seeking wider experience, much as English county cricket once was for West Indian players. The standard of play and organisation in schools cricket that was once similarly strong and well organised in all the territories has generally declined. With a few notable exceptions, the most qualified coaches are attached to the first-class and Test teams rather than with the up-and-comers.

The upshot is a fall in standards at the age-group championships that are still staged by the West Indies Cricket Board; this year, lack of finances led to the reduction of the Under-19 matches from three days to one.

The basic system has changed little in Jamaica since Arthur Wint and Herb McKenley strode to gold and silver in the 400m at the London Olympics in 1948, Jamaica's first medals. In the intervening 67 years, West Indians, Jamaican and others, have repeatedly stood on the podium at major games.

Jamaica's medal count at the Olympics is 17 golds, 30 silver, 20 bronze, an amazing tally for an island of less than four million inhabitants. Trinidad and Tobago's (population 1.8 million) is 2-5-11. Jamaica have six golds going into today's final day of the World Championships in Beijing, one more than the mighty US, two more than Britain.

Much as they did when they were belatedly introduced into the mainstream of West Indies cricket in 1966, proceeding to produce Andy Roberts, Viv Richards, Richie Richardson and Curtly Ambrose, all among the game's finest players, the Leeward and Windward Islands are now making their mark in athletics.

The young star, Kirani James, won the 400m in the World Championship in 2011 and the 2012 Olympics in London, Grenada's first such successes. Earlier, Alleyne Francique was twice world indoor champion at the same distance.

Kim Collins of tiny St Kitts & Nevis (population 54,000) was 100m champion at the 2003 World Championships in France; he's still challenging the best at the highest level; aged 39 he is the sport's Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

In the Beijing championships on Friday, Shara Proctor from Anguilla (35 square miles, population 15,000) leapt to silver in the long jump, representing Britain. Her fellow Anguillan-Brit, 20-year-old Zharnel Hughes, is widely predicted to follow Proctor's successes in the 200m. Levern Spencer and Jeanelle Scheper, two St Lucians, were in the women's high jump final in Beijing.

In fact, the names of West Indian champions and contenders are to be found in every event at major track and field competition. Such prevalence was once the preserve of West Indies cricket before its recent swift decline, initially triggered by the retirement of captain Viv Richards, the most intimidating batsman of his generation, and other key players.

As the effort continues to return it to its former glory and regenerate the trust of its public, athletes have stepped in to fill the breach.

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for over 50 years

DAYS BEFORE Trinidad and Tobago won its first medal at the World Athletics Championships in China, TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis was repeating his appeal for a unified and coordinated approach to supporting the country’s sportsmen and sportswomen in the quest for excellence at the global level.

Lewis was speaking to hours after Machel Cedenio had finished second-to-last in the 400m final and Mikel Thomas was disqualified in his 110m hurdles first round heat at the IAAF World Championships in China.

“Most of our athletes have coaches and are in coaching programmes,” he said.

“What is important is the integration between their programmes, the NAAA (National Association of Athletics Administrations), the TTOC, Ministry of Sport, in terms of providing our athletes with the services they need.” Among those services he listed were funding for training and sports psychology.

“It’s no secret that we haven’t gotten the system right as yet,” Lewis continued.

“I would like to see us improve the delivery of services, disbursement of funds and so on. We need ongoing dialogue and what we have to do when we come out of events is have appropriate evaluation and analysis.

Our people don’t want to look bad but we have to work together; we can’t operate in silos, can’t be concerned about who gets the credit; we must be concerned with service to country,” he went on.

One of the glaring issues emerging from TT’s participation at the 15th World Championships has been the unusual number of athletes who were affected by injury in the months leading up to the games.

The men’s sprint relay team practically disintegrated by the time games had begun.

Richard Thompson pulled out weeks in advance, citing a leg injury, and Marc Burns had also declared himself unavailable due to injury.

However, Rondell Sorillo and Dan-Neil Telesford, having been passed as fit, were pronounced injured and unable to compete after their arrival in Beijing.

And Keston Bledman blamed his demise in the opening round of the 100 metres on an injury that he said had affected his preparation.

It was much the same for Jehue Gordon; the defending 400m hurdles champ crashed out in the first round as well, and then revealed he had been training with a “sports hernia.” Shot putter Cleopatra Borel said she hurt a finger while warming up for the qualifying round; she also was eliminated.

“I think people are really recognising how difficult it is on the world stage,” Lewis responded.

“Injuries are a part and parcel of sport; it’s very rare for athletes at this level to not be hurting. Notably, Usain Bolt had problems (this season).

We need to commend our athletes for not only qualifying for the World Championships, but for competing and showing dedication, determination and courage. It is laudable in my view.” The situation was different, at least for Keshorn Walcott, as it was widely known that the Olympic Javelin champion had been struggling with a foot injury for most of the season; even so, he failed to manage 77m on the day- this from an athlete who twice raised the national mark this season, and who, weeks before, had achieved 90m for the first time in his career.

“Walcott didn’t perform as he would have liked,” Lewis responded.

“That’s elite and Olympic sport. I remain tremendously optmistic about his future.” Meanwhile, the TTOC president took the opportunity to endorse the decision to have four-time Olympic medallist Ato Boldon train Thompson, as the latter prepares for what would most likely be his final Olympics as a competitor. “I think the news that Richard Thompson is now in Ato’s camp is a huge positive. It’s great that Ato is now being allowed to become more involved; he has trained with some of the best, and I think he has a tremendous contribution to make,” Lewis said.

Boldon also trains teenaged TT sprinter Khalifa St Fort.

Newsday was unable to contact Lewis yesterday for comment after the TT Women’s team won the bronze medals in the 4x100m relay final in Beijing.

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Enthusiastic young rugby players from south and central communities took to the field at the launch of the Flow South/Central Youth Rugby Tournament at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella, yesterday. 

Five teams competed at the launch including Basse Terre, Maffeking, Sixth Company, Sobo and Guapo, with the last two teams combining to form one team. The tournament will also be supported by the Rainbow Sports, Cultural and Social Organisation. The tournament, which will run until October 3, will include a team from Rainbow. The six teams will compete in home and away matches with the top four teams playing for the top prize on the closing day. The tournament targets boys from age 15 to boys in their early twenties.

Samantha Lezama, public affairs and media relations manager at Flow enjoyed the excitement of the youngsters at yesterday’s launch. “This is the second time we are doing this rugby tournament. Every year the enthusiasm from the kids on the field is always energetic. They seem to like the sport very much.” 

Lezama is hoping the tournament will make the sport of rugby more popular. “Cricket and football is very popular in T&T and well supported. For us getting involved in rugby was an opportunity to bring that sport to more people. From the kids participating and the parents hearing about the game it will bring the sport to a wider community.”

Lezama explained that there are no immediate plans to expand the tournament to other parts of T&T, but it is possible competitions may take place in other areas in the future.

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Trinidad and Tobago’s 4x100 metres women relay team made history, not once but twice in the same event. 

First stopping the clock at 42.24 seconds in the semifinals and a few hours later the quartet of Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Michelle Lee Ahye, Reyare Thomas and Semoy Hackett crossed the line in 42.03 behind the Americans, who took silver with a time of 41.68. Team Jamaica won gold in a time of 41.07. In the process the squad became the first women sprinters to win a relay medal at the World Championships, another historic achievement.

In a race that was started at quick speed, it was the leader of the team, the wily and experienced captain, Baptiste, that led from the front, with a dazzling first leg. She said after: “I definitely trust Michelle, I knew that once I held by own and once I handed over the stick to Michele, it was all going to be okay.

Once they all got the sticks around the track, so I just felt that, the trust was there within all of us, we are comfortable with each other, nobody doubts anyone fitness and foot speed at this point, so we were just happy, that we were able to put it together, because it is tough, it is tough, to run a relay when you have not been practicing all year, so we came here since the 14th and we have been trying to work on our passes and I am just glad that it all worked out in the end.”

After the race Lee Ayhe said, “I am so happy, at the moment, my first World Championships and we have won a medal, it gives me energy to want to do more.” Reyare Thomas, who ran the third leg revealed: “It feel great to know that we come out here with a medal today. I ran okay enough that we were able to stay in the medal position.” 

Hackett, who anchored the team said: “I want to say, is that I am here with my friends and them. I think each person held their own, and gave 100 per cent and our baton passing was good enough to make us come third, because everybody trust each other and gave it their best. This team is going to Rio.”

Baptiste paid complements to national coach and former olympian Ato Boldon. She said: “I definitely think, that Ato (Boldon) deciding to get on board in the first place helped us a lot, he has a lot of confidence in us and he told us that before the heats, that he believes this team can break the national record and after that he has said he believes that this team can go below 42 seconds, it did not happen but we were very close to 41, but I just think, his input definitely helped us all during this time.”

She continued: “Khalifa St Fort, the youngest and newest team member, is an up and coming athlete, we are happy for her and she held her own, and she seems like a very mature athlete and we are just excited by where sprinting is going right now.” The full 4x100 metres team comprises Reyare Thomas; Kelly Ann Baptiste; Semoy Hackett; Khalifa St Fort; Kamaria Durant; Michelle Lee Ahye and Ato Boldon, who the team’s sprint coach. 

The National Association of Athletics Administrations of Trinidad and Tobago (NAAATT) has send congratulations to the team for breaking the national record twice and becoming the first group of women runners to win a relay medal. The NAAA also congratulated the entire coaching staff of Dr Ian Hypolite, Ato Boldon and Gunness Persad, who worked closely with the athletes in achieving their goals.

...Going For 4x400m relay gold
The national 4x400 metres relay sqaud of Renny Quow, Jarrin Solomon, Deon Lendore and Lalonde Gordon qualified for today’s final which will take place at 8.25 am (TT Time). The four-some posted a qualifying time and season’s best 2:58.67 seconds. They finished second to the Americans in heat two and and second overall of the eight finalists and will challenge for the gold medal from Lane 4.

Running in heat semi-final two, and from the dreaded Lane 2 in a race that included the USA and Jamaica Quow ran the opening leg, but he admitted to the Trinidad Guardian.” We were just to far down behind, I was just not feeling it today, but we we were able to go through because we had a strong team and we can always make it up because if one mess up the others can come through, so today was not my day, but I will be alright tomorrow.” 

Solomon loves to run the second leg, but had some work to do receiving the baton in last position and he said: “I love to break and cut into the field from the second leg, we did not get off to the best start but that is why we have four legs. Everyone is going to come at their best in the finals, so we are not taking anything for granted, however we expect the usual four of USA, Jamaica and Great Britain to be in the battle for the medals.”

Lendore who has been affected by injury over the last few months and ran the third leg, was able to claw into his opponents lead and hand over the baton in third position ,” I have been off the track for a while, so this run felt good and I needed this as well, the idea was always to just run and make it into the finals, and we have accomplished that.”

Double Olympic medallist Gordon produced one of the runs of his life as he propelled T&T into second position, after one stage being in fourth with 150 metres to race. “It was a good leg, a little messy from a few of the front runners, there was a lot of shoving, but I stayed focus and pulled us through,” Gordon explained.

Source

…but cycling, basketball, swimming not ready yet

Although Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar labelled it a “happy day” as she opened the $110 million refurbished Irwin Park Sporting Complex in her Siparia constituency on Wednesday, several aspects of the project remain incomplete.