IF EVENTS in international track and field competition this year are anything to go by, Trinidad and Tobago can justifiably expect to pick up a few medals at the 15th IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Championships, opening in Beijing, China on Saturday. The nation’s athletes have made their mark this year in various disciplines and on diverse occasions- notably at the Pan Am Games, the Junior World Championships and even in the IAAF Diamond League.

The National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) came up with a national team of 21 athletes for the nine-day fiesta in the Chinese capital; 21 men and eight women will represent the red, white and black, in sprinting, hurdling, the shot put and the javelin.

The last multiple medal return for TT at the World Championships came in Berlin, 2009 when TT earned silver in the Men’s 4 x 100 metre Relay and picked up bronze medals in the Men’s 400m and the Women’s 400m Hurdles.

Significantly, most of the personnel at the heart of those successes are out of the reckoning, at least for now. Of the men’s sprint relay squad that clocked 37.62 seconds to finish behind winners Jamaica in Berlin, only Emmanuel Callendar and Keston Bledman are now in Beijing. Richard Thompson is injured, while elder statesmen Marc Burns and Darryl Brown have both been affected by time and lack of form.

Josanne Lucas, who claimed women’s 400m hurdles bronze in 53.20 seconds, later suffered a serious injury, and some would argue that she has never been the same.

Renny Quow won bronze in the men’s 400 in 45.02; six years on, he remains an important and experienced member of the TT men’s mile relay squad.

For most local track and field enthusiasts, that group represents TT ’s best podium chance in China.

Headed by the outstanding Deon Lendore and World Youth champion Machel Cedenio, the squad is further strengthened by the return to form of Lalonde Gordon, who won two Olympic bronze medals in London 2012- in the 400 and as a member of the mile relay quartet.

Add to that his fellow-Tobagonian Quow and the consistent Jarrin Solomon, and something would have to go very wrong for TT not to finish among the medals in the relay.

There are also high expectations for Olympic Javelin champion Keshorn Walcott, who keeps improving on his national record and has now joined the ranks of the 90 metre- plus throwers. Troubled by an ankle injury, the Toco-born athlete has not let that deter his performances.

No one would count out Cleopatra Borel in the Women’s Shot Put, and her confidence would have been given a great boost by her gold medal performance at the Pan Am Games. Borel’s chances are boosted by the absence of two-time Olympic gold medallist and fourtime World and reigning champ Valerie Adams of New Zealand who recently had surgery.

Of TT ’s other female athletes, it is the wealth of sprinters on hand that suggests a medal can be in the offing- the return of Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Semoy Hackett, coinciding with the rise of teenager Khalifa St Fort and the return of Michelle- Lee Ahye gives rise to hope for the 4 x 100m relay. It remains to be seen, however, how well Ahye has recovered from the injuries that have setback her promising career; her speed when fully fit can make the difference between a podium position and an “also ran” tagline to the relay effort.

There have been other performers- Bledman, Mikel Thomas and Sparkle Mc Knight come to mind, and there is the matter of an out-ofform Jehue Gordon looking to defend his 400m title; but fans need to remember they will be competing against the world’s best.

Many a dream has been broken by the reality of world athletics.

TT came away from Osaka 2007 without a medal; two years later, they had three in Berlin, then came a solitary bronze in Daegu 2011 before Gordon’s gold in Moscow 2013.

There have been no large hauls, suggesting it would be wise to wait, watch, listen and hope. Newsday wishes our athletes good hunting!


Trinidad and Tobago’s women’s team produced an inspirational start to their 2015 Maples Senior Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) campaign by conquering Jamaica 5-0 on day one of Team Event action at the National Squash Association in George Town, Cayman Islands yesterday.

After an unexpected quarter-final exit from top local player Charlotte Knaggs in the individual rounds earlier this week, the regional Under-17 champion went on to spearhead Jamaica’s demolition.

Source: Newsday

A 24 member Trinidad and Tobago badminton delegation arrived in Dominican Republic on Monday to begin participation at this year’s Caribbean Regional Badminton Championships (CAREBACO), which serves off with the Under-19 International Tournament today.

Altogether, six senior players and 18 juniors will battle against the region’s top opposition in a series of competitive events. In addition to the Under- 19 International, TT representatives will also go for glory in Junior and Senior Team and Individual Events. Players will gain Badminton World Federation (BWF) ranking points in all of their contested international events.

The junior squad is being led by top ranked locals Will Lee and Jada Renales who are also the respective male and female team captains and were also medal winners at the CAREBACO tournament last year. The senior team comprises of National men’s Singles champion Nicholas Bonkowsky, Alistair Espinoza, Solangel Guzman and Leanna Castanada, among others.

Guzman is also the defending women’s singles champion and is keen on retaining her title as the Caribbean badminton queen.

Bonkowsky, who is Canadian based and recently participated in the 2015 Pan American Games, is also a favourite in the medal hunt for team TT .

The national squad is being managed by president of the Trinidad and Tobago Badminton Association and junior coach Derwin Renales. Stephanie Mitchell will also join as assistant manager and junior coach, while Guzman will serve as senior head coach.

Renales remains optimistic that the 2015 crop of players can at least replicate or surpass last year’s impressive 20-medal haul, despite the many challenges that were faced along the way.

The TT BA also expressed gratitude for the support shown by the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC) and the Ministry of Sport.


Dr Patricia Butcher has hinted at the appointment of former Australian netball and New Zealand assistant coach, Vickie Wilson as Technical Director to the T&T Netball Association in the near future.

Butcher made this disclosure while addressing a small gathering at a welcome reception held for the T&T “Calypso Girls” from the 14th Netball World Cup which ended in Sydney, Australia on Sunday.

The function which lasted little over an hour was held on the team’s arrival home at the VIP Lounge, Piarco International Airport on Tuesday morning.

Commenting on the ninth placed finish in the 16-team competition, by the Joelisa Cooper captained T&T women, Butcher said the team was capable of doing great things, but needed help.

She said, “Our team possesses the necessary netball talent to get back at the top, but the association does not even have the technical person that can take us there.”

“I’m not saying this to pull down anyone in T&T, but if we as a sport have to advance in terms of modern and scientific techniques, we need assistance at the highest level. 

“So while in Australia my discussions were with people like Vickie Wilson, a former top Australian netball captain and player, who served as the assistant coach of the New Zealand team at the just concluded World Cup and she is willing to come down here and assist us.”

Butcher made it clear that should the 50-year-old Wilson, a three-time world champion (1991, 1995, 1999) be appointed she expect no friction with current national coach, Wesley “Pepe” Gomes.

As a former Australian Diamonds captain, Wilson is one of netball’s most successful players with three World Championship gold medals and one Commonwealth Games gold medal to her credit. 

She played for the Australian national netball side for fifteen years and was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1992.

After retiring in 1999, Wilson has forged a successful career coaching at an elite level, most recently with the Queensland Firebirds from 2006, continuing in the ANZ Championship for two years until the 2009 season.

With regards to the expected communication between both coaches Butcher added, “ “Pepe” has already told us that he is willing to get assistance from the highest level and we have had before this two other Australians who have assisted us in the past with Government’s help and I am appealing to Government at this time to give us the assistance once more, and we certainly will be able to achieve the highest potential in netball.”

Over the years, T&T has had the benefit of two former Australian as Technical Directors.

First in 2007, former Australian national player Sharon Finnan was appointed by then T&TNA president Austrid Rochford to prepare the “Calypso Girls” for the 2007 World Netball Championship (WNC) in New Zealand where it placed 11th, its worst ever finish.

Then in 2010, Butcher appointed Australian technical consultant Karen Worland, a credited Level Three High Performance Netball Coaching for a one year stint.

World was responsible for basic entry coach education development, as well as preparing the national squads for the 2011 American Federation of Netball Associations (AFNA) World Championships Qualifying Tournament in St Lucia and the 2010 Commonwealth Games. 

She eventually returned to Australia while T&T with Grace Parkinson Griffith at the helm ended seventh at the Singapore 2011 Netball World Cup, its best finish since 1995, Birmingham, England.


Vicki Wilson

Personal information

Born: February 11, 1965 (age 50)

Brisbane, Australia

University: Queensland University of Technology

Netball career

Playing position(s): Goal Shoot

Netball World Championships

Gold medal: 1999 Christchurch; Gold medal: 1995 Birmingham; Gold medal: 1991 Sydney; Silver medal: 1987 Glasgow 

Commonwealth Games

Gold medal: 1998 Kuala Lumpur 

Coaching History

Coaching accreditation

High Performance Coach 2006 (Netball Australia)


4x100 squad depleted as Sorrillo, Telesford injured out

An already weakened men’s 4x100 metres relay squad has been dealt a double blow at the 2015 IAAF World Championships here in Beijing, China.

Both Rondel Sorrillo and Dan-Neil Telesford are out of the global meet with injury.

“We have two major concerns,” Trinidad and Tobago team manager Dexter Voisin told the Express, yesterday. “Sorrillo and Telesford have both been advised to cut short their Worlds because of the nature of their injuries.

“Telesford re-injured his knee,” Voisin explained, “and Sorrillo re-injured his leg. I’m awaiting word from home to see what arrangements can be made to fly them out of Beijing.”

T&T has a history of global sprint relay success. But with stalwarts Richard “Torpedo” Thompson and Marc Burns unavailable through injury, the Beijing campaign was always going to be difficult. Additionally, Marcus Duncan, who finished second to Keston Bledman at the National Championships, opted out of the Beijing Worlds, and 2003 World Championship 100m silver medallist Darrel Brown was also unavailable.

Though depleted, T&T still managed to secure bronze at last month’s Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, Sorrillo, Bledman, Emmanuel Callender and Telesford teaming up for a 38.69 seconds clocking in the final.

Now that Sorrillo and Telesford are out of the World Championships, the Beijing squad is down to a bare four—Bledman, Callender, Kyle Greaux and sprint hurdler Mikel Thomas.

“I’ve not seen it visibly,” said Voisin, “but these injuries would have affected the mood among the athletes on the 4x1 squad.”


For T&T netball to get back among the top teams in the world, a key development that must take place is the establishment of a professional league.

This was the view of T&T Netball Association president, Dr Patricia Butcher while speaking on the “Calypso Girls” return from the 14th Netball World Cup which ended in Sydney, Australia on Sunday with the Joelisa Cooper led T&T placing ninth of 16 teams.

Australia emerged the champion, beating New Zealand in the final.

Butcher, who is also the president of the Americas Federation of Netball Associations (AFNA) admitted that after seeing the standard of facilities in Australia and the type of professionalism they approached the sport with, it was not hard to see why they were the best in the world.

She said, “We at home here have a lot to do before we can get back to that level, but key elements to helping us getting there is the support both from Government and Corporate T&T. There is an abundance of young netball talent here in T&T, but we need that support and we also need to look at having a professional netball league where the players are paid fulltime.”

With regards to the team’s placing, Butcher said it was a very long journey, but a very successful journey from her own perspective.

“To me ninth is a good number because we went there knowing we were in a very difficult pool with the top two ranked teams in the world in Australia and New Zealand along with Barbados.

“After the first round which we ended 1-2 losing to Australia and New Zealand, there was a second round of two pools of eight.

“The top two teams in each group played in the first pool of eight and then we were in the second pool of eight for places ninth through 16.”

However, Butcher pointed out that had the format of the tournament been a little different, T&T had a great chance of placing higher.

“At the tournament, there was a Netball Congress held and it was felt by most of the teams present that the draw made for the competition was not fair to all the nations.

“We all spoke and the International Netball Federation Congress heard us loudly and as a member of the board, I will do my best to ensure that this format does not happen again.” Commenting on the T&T team Butcher said “Our Netball was up there before in the top rankings in the world and to her the team can get back up there, but we don’t even have a proper court, because for me the Jean Pierre Complex as it is, we can forget it.

“At Mayaro there is a good facility but we cannot be trekking up there all the time to be able to practice in facilities of international standards.”

The T&TNA boss said the players she have seen from Australia, New Zealand and England play at the professional level or at the semi-professional level.

“The fact is that they are paid and play netball for a living while my players have regular day jobs and have to come to train after work in their spare times. They don’t get stipends, no proper nutrition, and not even a mental coach and other things that international teams have that we don’t have. 

“So there performance when I look at it in relation to what is happening on the international scene we have to do a lot better for our athletes than we are doing today.”

“And so as I am now on the INF board as a Director for the Americas Region and I am going to be pushing so that our entire region, inclusive of the Caribbean, America, Canada, and Argentina, we all get up there with the rest of them because Africa is coming up.”

Butcher said, “The Africa nations like Zambia, Fiji, Malawi, South Africa and Uganda, they are all playing netball and they are getting the kind of resources because they have a regional development manager who is doing work for them and getting sponsors and respective Governments to give them money to develop their netball.

“I also saw on the television there the Government is Australia has taken a decision to put a $100 million (Australian) towards the development of netball in their school system, so they are starting at the lowest level coming up and of course they are supporting their national team 100 per cent.

“So am pleading to the Minister of Sport and all who have the powers to make the decisions please do so.

“We have talented girls in this country so let us develop our talent and make this little dot on the map called T&T a consistent team on the world stage again.”