Hypolite’s fellow-coach calls on PM to answer

“Why did Cabinet rescind the decision to give Dr Ian Hypolite a national award?” This question is being asked by Dr Hypolite’s fellow-coach Gunness Persad. “I’m calling on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar,” Persad told the Express, “to tell the country why.”

Dr Hypolite guided Jehue Gordon to men’s 400 metres hurdles gold at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia. Following the triumph, it was announced by then Minister of Sport Anil Roberts that Gordon would be given the Chaconia Gold Medal, and Hypolite would be the recipient of Chaconia Silver. However, in August 2014, Hypolite received a letter from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sport, informing him that the Cabinet decision to award him Chaconia Silver had been rescinded.

In an Express story headlined “Silver Snatched”, published on Independence Day last year, Dr Hypolite said he was embarrassed by the move. And in a letter to the Editor, published in the Express in September, the track and field coach expressed his displeasure. Yesterday, Hypolite told the Express he had nothing to add. “I have said all that I wanted to say in my letter to the Express before. I still don’t have a clear reason and idea why it was done.”

Persad, though, is not prepared to let the issue die, and is demanding answers from the head of Cabinet, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar. Persad is also enquiring about the long delay in presenting Chaconia Gold to Gordon. “Why, up to today, Jehue Gordon has not been given his national award?”

Gordon became T&T’s second senior world track and field champion—following in the footsteps of Ato Boldon—when he finished first in the 400m hurdles final on August 15, 2013. Almost 19 months have passed, and the 23-year-old track star is preparing to defend his title at the August 22-30 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China. Yet, he has not yet been presented with his Chaconia Gold Medal by President Anthony Carmona.

Despite a national budget of close to $60 billion, sport organisations, athletes and laudable programmes must scrap among themselves for a measly $57 million. You read right! It’s not a typo - $57 million is correct.

There are those who will point to the capital and social sector, Ministry of Sports and Sport Company of T&T goods and services expenditure to support their contention that the public sector and Government is taking sport serious.

The numbers don’t add up. Something is wrong with the sport investment formula.

Good governance, checks and balances must be compulsory. National sport organisations that aren't in compliance with basic requirements shouldn't get one cent from the public purse.

There are plans to revise the national sport policy. But how can you revise a policy that has not been fully implemented, monitored and evaluated.

This is another call for open discussions and dialogue.

A number of national sport organisations have found themselves battling for their existence as the financial and economic shackles can’t be broken.

As an organisation and institution, the Olympic Committee must remain nonpolitical. However, it has a duty to comment on the important issues that affect sport.

There are decisions being made that may not necessarily be in the best interest of sport in the country.

If we have to leave a positive sport legacy for our children and grandchildren, sport stakeholders must speak out and continue to speak out on issues that are fundamental to the sustainable development of sport and a sport industry.

Sport should not be classified as a drain on the treasury. The need for constructive and purposeful dialogue with national sport organisations is now urgent if the local sport system is to undergo a radical change from the dysfunctional realities.

We have to support new behaviour. Some of the actions that must become part of our daily behaviour patterns include:

- Consistent attention to execution and implementation

- Appropriate action must be decisively taken

- Fully account for and report on all public monies received

- Funding decisions must be fair and transparent

- Justify why projects and programmes should be funded

- Sport stakeholders must be told why their projects and or programmes are selected or rejected

- Criteria should be informed by policy

As local sport seeks to tackle difficult, complex issues an important element is to avoid the blind spots. Clearing away any blind spots requires a clear understanding of:

- The decisions that need to get made

- Within what timeframe will decisions happen?

- What are the key decisions that will be made that will make a significant difference

- Were all the options considered?

- Is there the capacity, resources and expertise to influence all of the decisions?

- What are the disincentives or barriers?

Investments in sport are crucial and urgent. There is need to create a larger pool of participants.

T&T should make sport development an integral part of the national economic development master plan. Sport and a sport industry is a means of job creation and can lift many families out of poverty. And be an engine of economic development, poverty eradication and reduction.

Sport enhances T&T’s national image, brand value and international status.

The positive benefits of sport outweighs the negatives - be it professional, amateur or recreational/social sport.

T&T must tap into the unlimited potential of sport. Let’s get serious about sport and sport development in T&T. There are significant barriers and issues that need to be confronted not tomorrow, today.

Brian Lewis is the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the national Olympic committee.

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Domonique Williams and Jereem Richards captured National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Indoor Track and Field Championship titles, in New Mexico, USA, on Saturday.
Richards stopped the clock at 46.70 seconds to win the men’s 400 metres final. The South Plains College student had clocked 47.85 in the qualifying round. Central Arizona College freshman, Ruebin Walters was 21st overall in 49.59.
Williams was the class of the field in the women’s 400m final, the South Plains athlete earning gold in 53.84 seconds. Another Trinidad and Tobago runner, Western Texas College’s Marissa Gale bagged bronze in 55.29.
Walters secured bronze in the men’s 60m hurdles with a 7.88 seconds run. In the qualifying round, he had clocked a personal best 7.77.
In the women’s 200m finals, New Mexico Junior College freshman Kayelle Clarke was fourth in 23.86 seconds, while Williams and Gale were fifth and sixth, respectively, clocking 24.24 and 24.31.
In the preliminaries, Gale got home in 24.23 seconds, Williams produced a 24.39 run, and Clarke clocked 24.40. South Plains College sprinter, Aaliyah Telesford was 26th overall in 25.63.
Central Arizona College thrower Hezekiel Romeo finished fourth in the men’s shot put with a 16.91 metres effort.
John Mark Constantine clocked 6.85 seconds for seventh spot in the men’s 60m final. The Western Texas College sprinter was faster in the qualifying round, getting to the line in 6.75.
Telesford was seventh in the women’s 60m final in 10.49 seconds. She had clocked 7.50 in the preliminaries. Central Arizona College’s Akila McShine was 19th overall in 7.84.
McShine’s 8.66 run in the qualifying round of the women’s 60m hurdles earned her a lane in the final as the third fastest qualifier. However, she did not face the starter in the championship race.
Williams captured three gold medals at the NJCAA Championships. In addition to her individual 400m triumph, she helped South Plains earn the women’s distance medley and 4x400m titles.
Williams ran the second leg (400m) in the distance medley, helping her school to a 12 minutes, 17.58 seconds clocking. And in the 4x4, she performed lead-off duties, setting the stage for a 3:43.32 South Plains run. Gale ran the second leg for fifth-placed Western Texas College (3:50.99).
South Plains won the women’s team title with 147.5 points. New Mexico (73), Central Arizona (65) and Western Texas (30) were third, fourth and eighth, respectively.
South Plains also emerged victorious in the men’s team competition, Richards and company accumulating 136 points. Central Arizona were second with 116, while Western Texas (33) finished ninth.
At the ECAC/IC4A Indoor Championships, in Boston, Coppin State University’s Deandra Daniel cleared the bar at a personal best 1.87 metres to capture the women’s high jump title.
Temple University’s Kiersten LaRoche finished 11th in the women’s long jump with a 5.49m leap and 21st in the 60m hurdles in 8.93 seconds.
Haysean Cowie-Clarke clocked 7.10 for 23rd spot in the men’s 60m dash. And his Coppin State teammate, Mark London was 28th in the men’s 800m in 1:54.95.
At the Marc Randle Classic outdoor meet, in Texas, Dan-Neil Telesford finished third in the men’s 400m in 48.72 seconds and sixth in the 200m in 22.05. His Wiley College teammate, Quinn-Lee Ralph was fourth in the men’s 200m in 21.61 and 11th in the 100m in 10.99.


Less than two years ago, 2014 First Citizen Sports Foundation (FCSF) Awards Sportswoman of the Year Cleopatra Borel was ready to call it a day.
The veteran Trinidad and Tobago shot-putter suffered an injured index finger and she had failed to reach the Olympic final a year earlier by one spot, only to find out later that another competitor, who had reached the final, had tested positive for a banned substance.
It left Borel distraught. “I was there, and when I saw it, it tear at my heart,” related Borel’s mother, Marcelle, who collected the accolade on her daughter’s behalf from Reema Carmona, wife of President Anthony Carmona.
“Because she really worked hard up to that point. Then she got her hand damaged and she was really struggling. She went out there and did her best. We need to keep sports clean. Because she is doing it clean. Back home she started going back to natural foods: dasheen, fig, we tried to get that, so she do it clean.”
As Marcelle tells the story, Cleopatra consi­dered quitting. “Her dad was ill and she was really down at that time because she damaged her finger. She said to her dad, ‘I think I’m going to give up.’ He told her, ‘I may not be here but give it one more Olympics.’ He said: ‘Brazil has always been good to you. Go to Brazil.’”
The following year, 2014, Borel returned with a bang with one of her best years in the field. She threw consistently over 18 metres, and even beat the 19-metre mark. It resulted in her fourth Sportswoma­n of the Year title.
Marcelle has grown accustomed to seeing her daughter battle the odds and win. “Well, Cleopatra is a child that would always surprise us from small. So as she grows older, nothing surprises (us anymore).”
Via her mother, Borel thanked her coach, Ismael Mastrapa Lopez, her physio, the T&T Olympic Committee, the National Association of Athletics Administrators, the Sports Company of T&T, the Ministry of Sport and all of T&T, “especially (her native) Mayaro”.
Sharing honours with Borel on the night was George Bovell, the Sportsman of the Year. Ten years after his previous win, Bovell returned to the top of the podium with three World Cup gold medal­s among his many impressive achievements in 2014. “I’m incredibly honoured to be named Sportsman of the Year in this country,” Bovell said, “especiall­y going up against incredible athletes in the form of Keshorn Walcott, Christopher George and the likes of these amazing and outstanding young people.
“I’m just incredibly grateful for this award, for the opportunity, for my health. I feel very blessed and I like to say that I’m working the dream, not living the dream. Working it every day. Every decisio­n I make is taking me closer to or further away from my goals.”
Bovell’s next assignment after months of training is in Milan next weekend, following which he will set up camp in Italy, which he said could be a potential training base. Bovell said he is grateful to be doing what he loves.
Asked where his resilience comes from, the swimmer waxed philosophical. “Real resilience is those people out there who are taking six, eight rounds of chemotherapy fighting for their lives,” the 2004 Olympic bronze medallist said.
“Those are the real heroes out there. I’m really grateful and I’m very blessed and hope to continue to do it with a bang and finish on top.”


THE PILOT cycle of Ria Ramnarine’s “Boxing Beyond the Ring” ended at the Fine Line Fight Factory in Montrose, Chaguanas, on Saturday night, as 19 female participants graduated out of the inaugural edition.

This brainchild initiative, which was conceptualised and implemented by the former national boxer, sought to offer its female participants an opportunity to empower themselves physically, psychologically, emotionally and socially.

Over the past six weeks, Ramnarine and Fine Line director Bharrath Ramoutar conducted multiple sessions with the women on sport, particularly boxing, as a socially uplifting and developmental tool. Participants were openly educated on self defence, physical and psychological training, self-esteem, improving confidence to develop self-efficacy and to become adept at personal safety awareness and practice.

Attending Saturday’s graduation ceremony were Ramnarine, Ramoutar and Kabir Hosein, as well as president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Brian Lewis, youth officer in the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development Andrew Sooparie and president of the Trinidad and Tobago Amateur Boxing Association (TTABA) Cecil Forde.

Together, these dignitaries heaped praises on Ramnarine’s unique developmental idea and lauded the many benefits that have so far emerged out of the initiative.

In his feature address, Lewis commended the brave efforts of Ramnarine, who has opted to enter a new and realm of boxing ‘beyond the ring’.

Citing her recent works as “historic and pioneering”, Lewis was in full agreement with the programme’s initiative and credited Ramnarine’s timeliness, since yesterday was also International Women’s Day.

“It’s a landmark approach,” said an excited Lewis. “We are here celebrating a small idea which has now transformed into a catalyst for changing how women experience the sweet science otherwise known as boxing. You have all gone beyond yourselves.

“Ria, this programme that you have built, will go a long way,” he continued. “The distance and borders that such a programme can conquer are beyond our thoughts because what you have done over the past six weeks may have never been done in this country in a sporting aspect. You have set a standard in which you are the leader.”

Additionally, several members of the graduating class opted to share their views on the programme, some of which were almost drawn to tears. Participants Elizabeth Francis and Nathalia Reyes opened the floor for the graduates and were also in high praise of this special sporting workshop for women.

“We learnt so much,” said Francis. “Not only physical training but there were several motivational talks and encouragement.

The self defence aspect was well accepted by me as well. Prior to this programme, I do not think I would have been able to defend myself when presented with a situation. I have left this group with so much more confidence.”

Marlene Charles, president of the Young Women Christian Association, and several other representatives from similar local female groups, were also present and all smiles for the graduating bunch. Meanwhile, Ramnarine, in her address, was overjoyed with the feedback and support received and welcomed more females throughout the nation to join such initiatives. It is expected that the programme will continue on a weekly basis at the Fine Line Gym.

Boxing Beyond the Ring Graduates -

Certificates of Participation: Kadejah Ramdhanie, Nester Flanders-Skeete, Onessa Braithwaite.

Certificates of Merit: Lynicia Hall, Shenelle Ramsaroop, Shantel Adams, Nathalia Reyes, Alana Ali, Sherna Alexander-Benjamin.

Certificate of Distinction: Hema Ramdeo, Tanya Western, Marlene Charles, Dulcie Furlonge, Halcyon Yorke-Young, Leneika Melville, Kimberly Baptiste, Crystal Dick, Elizabeth Francis, Danielle Azizullah.

Certificates of Appreciation: Anand Rampersad, Marlon Mitchell, Ramsingh’s Sports World, Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Brian Lewis, Bharrath Ramoutar.


SPORTSMAN AND Sportswoman of the Year 2014 George Bovell III and Cleopatra Borel are both setting their sights firmly on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Speaking on Friday night, after the First Citizens Sports Foundation’s Sports Awards at Queen’s Hall in St Ann’s, the 31-year-old Bovell III, asked about his plans for 2015, replied, “getting back to basics, building a great foundation for 2016, towards the Olympics. That’s what really matters.

“That’s what we all look towards, the ultimate goal,” said the lanky swim ace. “It will be nice. If it happens it happens, if it doesn’t, then I wouldn’t be too upset about it.”

Looking back at his season last year, the 2004 Athens Olympic Games 200-metre individual medley bronze medallist stated, “there were some real struggles for me in 2014. The Commonwealth Games, I was over-trained. When I was in the World Cup, I was swimming very well, then I was in Asia and I got pneumonia. I did some competitions with the pneumonia.”

He continued, “some of the hardest racing I’ve done in my career just came down to will-power. The CAC was a very memorable one for me. I think I might be the first person to win three in a row - three Games, three consecutively.”

Borel, the 2014 Commonwealth Games shot put silver medallist, was unable to attend Friday’s ceremony due to a training stint in Cuba.

Her mother Marcelle Borel, who collected the trophy on behalf of her daughter, noted, “she worked hard and when you work hard, you expect good results.”

She added, “we are always cheering her on. We are her worst and her best critics. So if she’s good, we compliment her. If she’s bad, we tell her.”

About her daughter’s plans for 2015, Borel (senior) stated, “she’s looking to do her best in all events, and looking forward to 2016. So her goal is the Olympics (as well as) Pan Am Games 2015 and World (Championships).”

The Pan Am Games will take place from July 21-26 in Toronto, Canada while the World Championships will be staged in Beijing, China from August 22-30.

Sir Hilary Beckles, pro vice-chancellor and campus principal of the Cave Hill campus (Barbados) of the University of the West Indies (UWI), delivered the feature address at Friday’s ceremony.

“In the last year, at my campus in Cave Hill, we have done something historic and unique,” he revealed. “We have rolled out a Masters Degree in Sports Science, and this degree is designed to fit into the routine, movements and cultures of our athletes.”

And, in his address to the gathering, chairman of the First Citizens Sports Foundation Dr Keith Clifford highlighted the events which the Foundation undertook last year, and also mentioned that the group plans to forge partnerships with academic institutions, both local and abroad.

Hall of Famer Florrie Kelshall (hockey) was recognised at the show, while a number of sporting persons who died in 2014 were remembered, including Rodney Wilkes (power lifting), Rawle Barrow (sailing), Kevon Carter (football), Benedict Cayenne (track and field) and cyclists Clinton Grant, Hilton “Barracuda” Mitchell, Kent Luces, Roger Smart and Ronald Dickie senior.

Entertainment was provided by the husband and wife duo of Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez, who opened the show with his 2015 track “Our Time” and Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez, who closed the 75-minute long ceremony with her 2015 hit “Raze”.