Trinidad and Tobago judo is reinventing itself. That is the message from local instructor Mark Littrean, who is the head of the Queen’s Park Judo Club, and an executive member of Judo TT, the governing body of the sport.

The Judo fraternity has been dormant for some time in T&T, but finally is beginning to emerge again as an alternative sport for youngsters and young adults in the country.

The former Trinidad and Tobago Judo Association (TTJA) rebranded itself two years ago to the current Judo TT image, and the emphasis is now on young judoka across the country. The TTJA had been established in 1966. However, there had been a number of years in which the previous administration was unable to galvanise the sport into wide-scale recognition.

"It had a lot to do with our failure to effectively promote the sport," Littrean said. "We never really put together a comprehensive and effective programme where we were able to promote the sport."

Littrean has been practising the art for 29 years, starting when he was in university under the tutelage of Kiyoshi Shiina, a Japanese instructor based in the US. He currently holds the rank of fourth dan, or fourth-degree black belt and was nominated for the WITCO Sportsman of the Year Awards twice during the 1990s. In 1996, he established the Queen's Park Judo Club which has been in operation ever since.

"What motivates me is the mutual respect," he said. "It changes lives... in this sport, people will be able to go hard at each other and at the end there's still a bow." It was this motivation that led him to establish the QPJC in an attempt to help decentralise and spread the art. The TTJA was the only fixed point where enthusiasts could get top-level judo training.

Nowadays, under the new direction mandated by both QPJC and Judo TT, some young talents are beginning to emerge, which augurs well for the sport in the Olympic context.

"We have Luke Walker from St Mary's College," Littrean said.

Walker is a 15-year-old 2nd kyu or blue belt.

He added: "Xavier Jones recently returned from the USA Judo Junior Olympic International Tournament in Dallas, where he came second in the boys over 64 kilogramme division."

Jones is a 14-year-old judoka from Fatima College who Littrean said could be in contention for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. "Gabriella Wood is undoubtedly one of the leading female judoka right now," he said further. The St Joseph Convent Port of Spain student recently won silver at the Pan Am Open Junior circuit last month.

As a part of their strategy to raise the profile of the martial art, Judo TT has negotiated with the"Citizen Security Programme" to administer judo in at-risk areas. The judo governing body also received funding from the programme for a six-month period between May and November this year.

The QPJC under the Judo TT umbrella  has also spearheaded the secondary school programme, which includes Dunross Preparatory, Maria Regina Grade School, Holy Name Convent, Fatima College, Queen's Royal College and St Joseph's Convent Port of Spain.

The QPJC is located at 33 Picton Street Newtown, and sessions range among children starting at six-years-old, to teenagers and adults. Children train on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, while the adult class takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.


The Special Olympics swim team are a proud bunch after splashing to five medals — three gold, two bronze — at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center, Los Angeles, USA, recently.

Bringing home the gold for this country are Nikoli Lalla (50m breaststroke), Chavez Lamy (25m backstroke) and Jariah Walker (25 m backstroke). Clinching bronze in the 50m freestyle was Shania Surujbally, bouncing back in style from a fourth place finish in another race.

And yesterday, Melissa Nanan, competing in the 25m backstroke, stopped the clock at 30.01 seconds to finish in third place behind Croatia’s Tanja Zabic (29.05) and Uruguay’s Paula Bonifacio (29.96).

Earlier, Lalla and and Lamy had sounded a warning to their rivals with victories in the preliminary rounds while Walker was second but performed to his peak when it counted in the final.


MACHEL CEDENIO confirmed his status as one of the world’s foremost 400 metre runners yesterday, taking the gold medal in his pet event with a typically dramatic finish at the IAAF Diamond League Grand Prix meet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Just weeks before the World Athletics Championships in Beijing, the lanky southerner, still two months short of his 20th birthday, has stamped his name firmly among the few of the quality to challenge Olympic champion Kirani James for one lap sprint gold.

In the process, Cedenio, the Pan Am Games silver medallist also exacted revenge on the Dominican Republic’s Luguelin Santos, who had beaten him to the Pan Am gold in Toronto.

What made his victory the more remarkable was the fact that despite falling way behind the leaders at 300 metres, Cedenio was the only athlete to finish under 45 seconds.

One of only two TT athletes who competed in Stockholm, Cedenio appeared initially to be out of medal contention.

When the runners cleared the final turn, the World Junior champion, running in lane five, was second-to-last; Jamaican Rusheen Mc Donald (lane 6) and Santos (lane 8) were leading the pack home.

Cedenio then began to accelerate, passing athlete after athlete, almost as though they were stationary. He crossed the line first, in 44.97 seconds; Santos followed, almost a quarter of a second behind in 45.21, while Britain’s Martyn Rooney took the bronze in 45.41.

Victory for the TT quarter-miler came in just his second appearance in the Diamond League; he was sixth in New York on June 13 in 45.89, just behind countryman Renny Quow (5th, 45.57) in a race won by South African Wayde Van Niekerk (44.24).

Van Niekerk heads the Diamond League Men’s 400m points standings with eight; Cedenio is now tied for second with Bahamian Steven Gardiner, on four; Americans La Shawn Merritt and David Verburg are next, on three points each.

Defending World and Olympic Champion Kirani James has not appeared in the Diamond League since finishing second (44.17) behind Van Niekerk (43.96) in Paris on July 4.

Meanwhile, Pan Am Games gold medallist Cleopatra Borel finished down the field in the Women’s Shot Put, sixth of eight competitors with a best throw of 18.25 metres. Germany’s Christiana Schwanitz (20.13) claimed the gold, while American Michelle Carter (19.24) and Hungary’s Anita Marzon (18.74) took the minor placings.

Jamaica’s World and Olympic sprint champion, Shelly Ann Fraser- Pryce won the Women’s 100 metres in 10.93 seconds; American Tori Bowie (11.05) took the silver and Pryce’s compatriot Natasha Morrison (11.22) got the bronze.

The Diamond League series now takes a break for the World Championships, which open on August 22 in Beijing, China.


LOCAL RUGBY authorities are hoping that the lack of support and proper facilities for the sport do not deter the country’s rising young talent. This week, as a select squad of high school students trained at the Queen’s Park Savannah for a a trip to Canada, they could not avoid some of the challenges facing the sport.

The TT Schools Rugby Union has selected a 26-man squad to play four matches in a seven-day tour of Ontario-part of an ongoing initiative to get prospective future national players attuned to the trials and pressure of the game at international level.

“This team is really the best out of the schools league,” the team’s assistant manager Ronnie Annandsingh said, underlining the fact that they were operating within limits, as the schools arm of the governing body, the TT Rugby Football Union (TTRFU). “We are hoping that after the schools league, that they join a club and eventually go on to play Under-19 and Under-21 in the TTRFU Senior Division.”

The players were drawn from a wide spread: Fatima, St Mary’s, QRC, Belmont Boys, Tranquillity, St Anthony’s, Mucurapo, Maple Leaf, the International School, St George’s College (Barataria) and St Benedict’s (La Romain).

“We’ve selected the best players out of the north, and also from a south-east school select. The schools union has no league in south as yet, but this (coming) season, we are starting a league at under-14 level,” added Annandsingh, who is also the senior TT squad manager.

They all had to train in the mud and tall grass of an uncut section of the Savannah, opposite the Botanical Gardens, avoiding fitness enthusiasts who were jogging around what used to be the “sand track.” “That happens at senior level, with Sevens rugby,” the former player continued, even as team manager Graham Chin broke into a smile, perhaps, of resignation. “The best we can do is hope that some point there is a home for rugby; but for now, the reality is the reality. The important thing is that we still get the commitment from the players to come out and train.”

Another challenge, common to most amateur sports played in TT, is funding. The budget for the Ontario trip is $402,000; even so, they are now into the third successive annual trip Canada with the schoolboys, after playing in Barbados in 2011 and 2012. Much of the funding has come from corporate TT including the Newsday. Annandsingh believes it is critical to the survival of the sport in TT and the development of a core of competent international players.

“We are trying to give the fellas the exposure. This is really a development tour. To increase their basic skills, how to play against opponents in a particular situation, how to react,” he said. “We are giving them that opportunity. The more games you play, the more practice games you have, the better you will become eventually.”

They have less than a week before leaving for Ontario; the tour runs from August 7-15.



T&T Under-20 Women Soca Warrior player Maya Matouk is of the firm belief that she and her teammates have not accomplished anything and must remained focused on the task at their feet. And that entails maintaining their team bond and improving as a unit as they move on to the Caribbean Football Union Under 20 Women’s Championship in Haiti in October.

Matouk, a student at University of Tampa, led T&T’s charge in their 6-0 defeat of Dominica in their CFU Under-20 Women’s closing first round fixture at Victoria Park, Kingstown, St Vincent and The Grenadines, on Tuesday night, to see them top Group Four with maximum six points. T&T now moves onto the Finals round-of qualifiers in Haiti from which the top three teams from the eight-team tournament will advance to the Concacaf Finals.

At stake in that final tournament in Honduras  in December will be a place in the 2016 Fifa Under 20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea. “Even though we accomplished our first objective, going on to the next round is going to require us to stay even more humble and dedicated as we will be facing teams that are stronger,” a confident Matouk said.

“We will take the experience of the past games with us and hope to increase our level of play to be victorious in the next qualifying round. Winning this first round was definitely a confidence boost for all and this will keep our spirits high,” she continued.

Looking back at the game in which she notched a double, the ex-St Ann’s Rangers and IMG Academy player said sticking to the game plan laid out by head coach Jason Spence and proper communication among the players and staff were key factors. “Sticking to the game plan given by coach was definitely the key factor in our performance. We were told to give everything we had when we stepped out on the field and that’s exactly what we did,” she said.

The team was skippered by central defender Renee Mike and included the likes of the talented Amaya Ellis, Chelcy Ralph, Tsaianne Leander who scored a double in the 2-0 win over St Vincent and The Grenadines, Shauna-Lee Govia, Naomie Guerra and goalkeeper Nicolette Craig.

“We stayed focused and humble throughout the qualifiers. Being a team with all teammates fully committed and willing to strive for excellence made our goal easier to achieve. We developed an effective method of communication and this was another important factor that allowed the game to be played smoothly,” Matouk added.

The T&T forward was a member of the T&T Under-17 Women’s Team that won the 2013 Caribbean title in Haiti, beating the hosts 1-0 in the final. She is familiar with the conditions there and has a feel for that stage. “Now we have a few weeks to prepare for the next stage which is going to be tougher and will require more out of us. But I think everyone’s up for it and we’ll be working  towards staying on top of our game and pull off the results to keep us going in this campaign,” Matouk said.


Olympic and Pan American Games medallist Emmanuel Callender says the determination of this country’s athletes to always excel has led to T&T’s improved medal position at the Pan American Games, which came to an end in Toronto, Canada, last weekend.

Speaking to the T&T Guardian at Piarco International Airport on the team’s return home on Tuesday morning, he said, “We came out with eight medals. We also came out with a lot of personal best. The team is a fairly new one. We have some new athletes running on the 4 x 100 relay. The chemistry is now starting to build. It’s a very good one.”

Of the relay team of which he was a member, Callender said, “We only had one day to practice before we ran that 4 by 100m. We had to pull it together as quickly as possible. I think we did very well. We came off the heat above a lot of other countries. Our hand-offs weren’t the best, but we can work on it and make things a lot better.”

With his sights already fixed on this country’s participation at the World Championships and other international meets later this year, Callender said the 4 by 100-metre relay team of which he was apart, which secured bronze for T&T, still needed to overcome some technical hurdles from the starter to the anchor, if they were to retain a place on the podium in the future.

During the time they spent together, he was clear that his teammates were undoubtedly committed. Commenting on his present form, the 100 metre sprinter said if the Rio 2016 Olympic was tomorrow he would not be ready. He believed same could be said for his teammates.

“I don’t think people understand what it takes to step up on that Olympic podium. It’s not an easy task. We have to work a lot closer with the Minister of Sport and the TTOC and other organisations and corporate T&T, to help the athletes in terms of finances because finances are a main part in preparation going towards the Olympic Games. Truth be told, most of the athletes don’t work. We have to depend on the Olympic Solidarity Fund and the Elite Funding to ensure that we stay healthy, pay coaching fees, pay rent and the other stuff so we could be on the medal podium,” he said.