Former Trinidad and Tobago coast guard commander Reginald Williams embarked upon an historic voyage yesterday as he attempts to complete the transatlantic journey from T&T to the United Kingdom.  The vessel The Legacy, will set sail for Antigua and then journey across the Atlantic Ocean to the Portuguese Azores, after which it will finish the journey, sailing to the Isle of Wight, England, where Williams and his crew will contest the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week Regatta. Williams has been sailing for over 40 years and is continuing a family tradition that has spanned four generations. “This will be the last major campaign for The Legacy on our watch,” Williams told the Express yesterday. “We thought that there was no better way to send off The Legacy than to embark on this voyage.” The yacht will be sold to new owners after the voyage and the race. The sailor and his crew hope to create history. “This is the first time a team of West Indians will race on an indigenous boat in 180 years,” claimed Williams. It will also be the first time since 1960 that a voyage to the UK has been made by  Trinidadians in a local boat. There are of course some challenges as according to Williams, the crew was not designed originally for short manning. “Everyone needs to have a critical specialisation on board,” he said. “We are short-handed; the boat is not going be manoeuvred so everyone will be doing double duty.”  An enthused Williams hoped that with the journey he and his crew could inspire younger sailing fans. “The Atlantic run was something they were planning for a long time. We hope this race will inspire others in the sport,” said Williams. “We will do our best to make T&T proud of us.”

TRINIDAD and Tobago are the top-ranked of the 12 countries involved in the opening leg of CAZOVA (Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association) women’s beach qualifying for the Olympic Games. The tournament will be contested from today until Sunday in Jamaica and the countries which finish in the first six positions will advance to the second of four rounds of NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) qualifying for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, which will be staged in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August next year. T&T, Curacao, United States Virgin Islands and Barbados, the four highest ranked countries, respectively, in this competition will receive byes into the second round and will only have to beat one country to move forward. The other countries involved are Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, Suriname and host nation Jamaica. Each country will be represented by two pairs and Apphia Glasgow, La Teisha Joseph, Shenelle Gordon and Elki Philip will be flying the red, white and black flag. Glasgow and Joseph had the ideal preparation for this competition last weekend when they reached the quarter-finals when this year’s NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) Beach Tour served off in the Cayman Islands.  Glasgow, Gordon and Joseph are young and relatively inexperienced, but Philip is one of this country’s most accomplished players on the sand.


Kuwait's Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has been elected onto the FIFA Executive Committee after all his opponents competing for a two-year term withdrew during today's Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Congress in Manama.

Sheikh Ahmad, one of the most important powerbrokers in sport who is seen as a close ally of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, will add the new responsibility to his existing roles as IOC member and President of both the Association of National Olympic Committees and the Olympic Council of Asia.

He will become the fourth IOC member on the Executive Committee, along with FIFA head Sepp Blatter, Cameroon's Confederation of African Football President Issa Hayatou and Burundi’s Lydia Nsekera, and is likely to play a key role liaising between the two bodies.

During today's meeting in the Bahraini capital - which is being attended by Sepp Blatter and all of his rivals for the FIFA Presidency - AFC head Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has also been re-elected by acclamation for a fresh four-year term in office after no one stood against him.

Shaikh Salman will also now become a FIFA vice-president, replacing Presidential contender Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, as his term has come to an end.

Football Association of Malaysia President Prince Abdullah Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Hj Ahmad Shah received the highest number of votes to take on of the two other four-year FIFA Executive Committee positions, while the other was claimed by Japan Football Association vice-president, Kohzo Tashima.

This means Dato' Worawi Makudi of Thailand, a Committee member since 1997, has been voted off, while South Korea Football Association chief Chung Mong-gyu and Oman's Sayyid Khalid Hamed Hamood Al Busaidi were also unsuccessful.

Qatar Football Association vice-president Saoud Al Mohannadi had pulled out two days before the election, calling on West Asia to settle on one candidate.

Meanwhile, in a speech to open the meeting, Blatter praised Shaikh Salman, a staunch supporter in his Presidential re-election campaign, for steadying the AFC ship after his Qatari predecessor Mohammad Bin Hammam was banned from football in 2013.

He has shown “a remarkable sense of organisation and diplomacy to bring back the boat of the Asian Football Confederation, that at a certain time has been in waters that are not so very clear and not so very clean,” it was claimed.

The Swiss also praised the growth of the sport in Asia, quoting Chinese philosopher Confucius to justify how the FIFA development programme has helped engineer improvement.

"Confucius said, if you want to help your friend or your brother, don't give him a fish but teach him how to get fish," he outlined.

"This is the policy of our development programme, there is money available [but] I don't want to speak about money today."

As well as Prince Ali, both Luis Figo of Portugal and Royal Dutch Football Association head Michael van Praag were also present, although neither spoke formally during the Congress.

The trio will challenge heavy favourite Blatter next month during the FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 28 and 29.


NASSAU   With the first race yet to be run at the IAAF World Relays here in Nassau, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago athletes are already on centre stage. In the main photo on the cover of the official programme, T&T sprint star Keston Bledman looks to the heavens as he is about to settle into the starting blocks ahead of his men’s 4x100 metres lead-off leg at the inaugural IAAF World Relays, in Nassau, last year. T&T teenager Machel Cedenio is also featured on the cover, running alongside Bahamian Chris “Fireman” Brown during the 2014 men’s 4x400m event. Cedenio, the reigning 400m world junior champion, was also spotted on a large advertising poster in downtown Nassau. While surprising, the prominence being given to Team T&T in 2015 was earned at the 2014 edition of the global meet. The men’s 4x100m quartet earned silver, while bronze was bagged in the women’s 4x100m and men’s 4x400m events, T&T finishing sixth overall with 19 points. The second IAAF World Relays will be staged today and tomorrow at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, in Nassau, and quadruple Olympic medallist Ato Boldon is expecting an even better performance from T&T. “I’ll be very shocked,” Boldon told the Express, “if we leave here with a medal haul that is not as good as that. Across the board we’re better--4x4s and certainly 4x1s.” The men’s 4x400m combination of Lalonde Gordon, Renny Quow, Cedenio and Jarrin Solomon will be the first T&T team in action. At 7.24 this evening, they will run in heat three against the likes of Great Britain, Belgium, Australia and Dominican Republic. The top two countries in each heat will advance to tomorrow’s final. The same quartet finished third in last year’s championship race in a national record time of two minutes, 58.34 seconds. At 7.49pm., Bledman, Marc Burns, Rondel Sorrillo and Richard “Torpedo” Thompson will do battle in the second men’s 4x100m qualifying heat. Great Britain, France and St Kitts and Nevis are expected to be among the tougher opponents for the T&T sprinters as they bid for a top-two finish and an automatic berth in the 9.56pm final. Bledman is the 2015 men’s 100m world leader with a 10.01 seconds run, while Thompson is third thanks to his 10.04 dash a fortnight ago. Sorrillo and Burns are joint-22nd at 10.17. Boldon said that while he is expecting a good showing from T&T in the men’s sprint relay, a trip to the podium is not a guaranteed outcome. “In the next cycle of Worlds this year, Olympics next year, and then Worlds in 2017, we don’t have much room for error because some of the other teams in the world have gotten better. On the men’s side I don’t think we can have some of the problems that we’ve had--maybe from third (leg) to Richard--and survive and get a medal. “This meet is good, but it’s not a World Championships, it is not an Olympics. To me this needs to be sort of a training ground and a proving ground to show that when the pressure is on, T&T relay teams are going to be the ones that don’t make the mistake. Let everybody else make the mistake, and hopefully through that we can get ready for what is to come at the World Championships. World Championships is going to be as competitive a field as this group of athletes has ever faced.” Janeil Bellille, Romona Modeste, Magnolia Howell and Alena Brooks are expected to be on show for T&T today in the third and final women’s 4x400m qualifying heat. That race is scheduled for 8.53pm, and will also feature a strong United States quartet, as well as Italy, Poland and Canada. Again, a top-two finish would secure a place in tomorrow’s final. Charlie Joseph, one of two coaches here in Nassau with the T&T team, told the Express he expects the men and women who will represent the Red, White and Black at the 2015 IAAF World Relays to improve on the country’s 2014 performance. “I am hoping for three medals again, but different medals this time…different colour.”


Major announcements will be made in the coming weeks as the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee  (TTOC) 10 or more Olympic Gold medals by the year 2024 #10golds24 project enters a new phase.

Launched in December last year .  Fund raising for 10golds24 kicked off with the participation of the TTOC president Brian Lewis in the Trinidad and Tobago International  Marathon On January 25th.

Interest in partnering with the TTOC 10 gold project is high and has resulted in discussions with a diverse group of private and public sector companies.

As part of the 10golds24 athlete welfare and preparation programme a request has been made to Government to establish an expedited elite athlete housing assistance programme.

In pursuit of its athlete welfare priority the TTOC is working with Guardian Group to design and develop a sport focused group medical insurance plan.

Also in progress is the creation of a medical services network which will provide athletes with discounted and expedited sport medicine and sport science services and support.

Eight athletes have received Olympic Solidarity scholarship funding through the TTOC to assist with preparation for qualification for next year's Rio 2016 Olympics.

T&T’s prospects for a gold medal in the women’s 4x100m relay at this weekend’s IAAF/BTC World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas, has been dented with the announcement of Kelly-Ann Baptiste’s withdrawal from the event. Off a recent 10.98 winning run at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational in Gainesville, Florida, Baptiste was announced last week by the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) as part of the overall 23-athlete T&T contingent and six-runner women’s 4x100m pool.

However, in a media release issued on Tuesday night, Baptiste’s withdrawal was announced, along with a suggestion by the NAAA that the reason was not related to injury or her recently completed 21-month ban for droping. “Her withdrawal is not related to any prior issue and is merely to allow her to address urgent personal matters,” the release noted.

Contacted for further information yesterday, public relations officer (PRO) at the NAAA, Peter Samuel, said between the time the release was issued on Tuesday and press time last evening, there were no further details with regard to the specifics of her withdrawal, but maintained that he only understands it to be “personal”.

“I know that people are coming to all kinds of conclusions out of it, but I can guarantee that this has nothing to do with previous issues (that were made public),” Samuel said via telephone, adding that Baptiste is still very much expected to feature at next month’s National Open Championships, an event mandatory for athletes to be considered for the IAAF World Championships, in August.

The latest NAAA release, authored by Samuel, states: “Ms Baptiste has been enjoying an excellent season and her presence in the Bahamas would have significantly improved the chances of our 4x100m women’s team (claiming gold). Notwithstanding, our country is being represented by a strong team and all athletes are expected to give of their best.”

In the absence of Baptiste at the inaugural World Relays last year, T&T’s 4x100m women’s team secured bronze after clocking 42.66 seconds, behind USA (41.88) and Jamaica (42.28). Kamaria Durant, Michelle-Lee Ahye, Reyare Thomas and Kai Selvon, represented T&T in the final and have been retained for this weekend’s races. Lisa Wickham is also in the team.

Baptiste’s initial inclusion meant T&T would have had a chance, albeit slim, to provide four runners from the six-athlete pool for the women’s 4x200m relay. Nevertheless, the women’s 4x100m team will challenge the heats on Sunday—second day of competition—at 7.16 pm, approximately two hours and 15 minutes before the final. T&T will also field a men and women 4x400m team and a men 4x100m and 4x200m team.

First in action will be the men’s 4x400m heats, which will open the World Relays from 7 pm on Saturday. Lalonde Gordon, Renny Quow, Machel Cedenio and Jarrin Solomon, all of whom combined for bronze last year in a national record breaking performance at 2:58.34, are also back in Nassau, while Kyle Greaux and Jacob St Clair have joined the pool.

The T&T athletes for the men’s 4x100m 4x200m relays include Marc Burns, Keston Bledman, Rondell Sorrillo and Richard Thompson—who captured silver in 38.04 seconds last year—with support from Marcus Duncan, Emmanuel Callender and Greaux. The men’s 4x100m relay heats and final will run on Saturday at 7.49 pm and 9.52 pm, respectively.

Sunday’s races will again start at 7 pm, opening with the men’s 4x200m heats, two hours and five minutes before the final. The women’s 4x400m relays will start with heats on Saturday at 8.32 pm, a day before the final, scheduled for 8.12 pm. The quarter-miler quartet, who will be seeking to improve from the 12th place finish last year, are Janeil Bellille, Josanne Lucas, Ramona Modeste, Alena Brooks and Magnolia Howell.