Counting the blessings at AIPS America Games

To God be the glory.
On the bus ride to the table tennis venue at the 2nd AIPS America Games here in Manaus, Brazil, I said to myself I would honour God if I got the gold medal. But I quickly checked myself. Who am I to attach conditions when it comes to how my maker blesses me?
As it turned out, I got silver, and the glory goes to God. Had I bowed out of the tournament in the semifinal round, the quarters or even at the group stage, I would still owe God a debt of gratitude. It is He who opened up doors, presenting me with the opportunity to represent One Caribbean Media (OCM) and Trinidad and Tobago.
For the second time, I played Colombian Hernando Suarez in the AIPS America Games table tennis final. In Medellin, Colombia, two years ago, Suarez beat me in three straight games. This time it was a lot closer. I won the first two games, but Suarez battled back to win the next three, successfully defending his title, 9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6.
I’m proud of my silver medal, and I left the venue knowing I had given my all. No one from OCM or T&T was there to witness the championship match, but I can say without fear of reproach that you were both well represented.
So, it’s silver again, and I’m grateful for putting T&T on the medal table for a second time. But that doesn’t take away from the pain. The worst placing in sport is fourth for it means just missing out on a medal. But second hurts as well, especially when gold was just a game away.
In Medellin, the table tennis tournament was staged at the end of the Games. On that occasion I was probably guilty of over-training. Twice a day was a bit much for my ageing body.
Here in Manaus, time and logistics allowed me just one training session. It worked out well. The anticipation ahead of competition is a bit much, especially since I have the tendency to over-analyse. So, jumping into early action is ample protection against the paralysis of analysis.
There was no Games transport available for training sessions, so I had to take a taxi and hope for the best. Fortunately, one of Brazil’s top para players was at the venue, and I was able to get in a few practice games close to midday on Tuesday. This guy plays at a very high standard. In fact, there are few able-bodied players in T&T who can beat him, so the preparation was more than adequate.
I went into the tournament a few hours later confident in all areas of my game.
However, during the first match in my round robin group I felt a muscle strain in my back. I refused to panic. I spoke to God, and I reflected on the excellence of Michael Jordan even when he was not physically at 100 percent.
I was guarded in my play at the group stage, and succeeded in getting past my opponents from Ecuador and Paraguay in straight games. Perhaps, you could look at the Ecuador win as revenge for T&T’s female footballers, who were stopped by the South Americans in their bid to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. I did make mention of that painful defeat in an interview with an Ecuador radio station at the end of the table tennis tournament.
In the quarter-final round, I played a Colombian with a “funny” rubber on his backhand. I knew I had to go hard at Mauricio Diaz, and not allow him to gain confidence in the “pimple” rubber. Back injury or not, he needed to feel my power. I blew past him in the opening game, and though he proved more difficult thereafter, I won in straight games, 11-1, 11-8, 11-8.
I also triumphed 3-0 in the semis, making light work of my opponent from Chile.
Then, it was time to take on the best player in the tournament. But as T&T’s best-ever player, Dexter St Louis told me in an encouraging email message, it is not the best player that wins but the best prepared. Thanks Dex.
At home, I played practice matches against Anthony “Sandfly” Brown and Terry Corbin, and had trained regularly with Richard, Wallen, Nkosi and Rodney. The camaraderie at the Community Centre in Diamond Vale, home venue of my club Solo Crusaders, keeps me training, even when I don’t want to. The support of Peter and “coach” Kevin would have come in handy here in Manaus.
And I do believe I would have won had Collin Cudjoe made the trip as manager/coach. He has a track record of success with touring T&T teams. Ask Dexter.
I was well prepared for this tournament, and it showed in the first two games. But Hernando was also prepared, and came storming back to keep his crown. My roommate/coach, Bolivian Jimmy Terrazas tried his best to help me over the line, but while I appreciated his motivational words, I needed some technical help.
Thanks Jimmy. You did your best. And so did I. My back injury did not act up in the final, the adrenaline keeping me going throughout the five games.
It was only at the end of the final that I realised how badly I wanted the win. For the first time in many years, I had to fight back tears at the end of a table tennis match.
Yes, I wanted gold. But I’m grateful to God that he blessed me with silver.


Tobago athletes began their quest for a 25th straight zonal national title by capturing nine gold medals during the first day of action at the 2015 National Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo yesterday.
Leading the way for Tobago were Safiya John (Scarborough Secondary) and Asha James (Signal Hill Secondary) who won two gold medals each.
John captured the Girls Under-16 80m hurdles in 12.87 seconds ahead her Tobago teammate Schrese Trim (Signal Hill Secondary), 14.46.
John, last year’s top female athlete of the meet, then secured the high jump crown with a distance of 1.55 metres. Carifta Girls Under-18 javelin silver medallist James completed a throws double with victories in the Girls Under-18 discus (24.40m) and javelin (43.40).
Anson Moses (Boys U-16 100m hurdles-15.95), Anya Akili (Girls U-16 100m hurdles-15.45), Aaron Lewis (Boys U-20 110m hurdles-14.71), Tehealia Kennedy (Girls U-14 shot put-9.61), Kimoi Noray (Girls U-16 javelin-31.41), Chevelle McPherson (Girls U-18 long jump-4.99) and Omari Benoit (Boys Over-18 high jump-2.00) were all winners for Tobsgo.
The defending champions also won four silver and six gold medals to total 18 before the start of the 100m, 400m and 1500m events.
Port-Of-Spain led the charge among the other zones with wins for Jeminise Parris (St. Francois Girls), Clement Campbell (QRC), Kobe John (St. Anthony’s), Shaquille Singuineau (QRC). Carifta bronze medallist Parris ran away with the Girls U-20 100m hurdles (14.55), while Clement was crowned the Boys U-18 long jump champ (6.48) to add to his Carifta bronze medal.
John took the Boys U-18 110m hurdles (14.90) with Singuineau landing the boys Over-18 shot put-15.02) crown.
The meet continues today.


T&T senior men’s team will be aiming to live up to all expectations on the field and on paper at the Concacaf Gold Cup in July after being rated as the number one-ranked team in the Caribbean for this month despite its recent 1–0 loss to Panama at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.

The Soca Warriors, coached by Stephen Hart, was ranked 65th in the world by Fifa, top in the Caribbean ahead of Jamaica (75th), Haiti (79th) and Antigua/Barbuda (106th).

T&T is just ahead of Burkina Faso, Bulgaria and Norway and right behind Peru, Australia and Republic of Ireland.

T&T is fifth in Concacaf at the moment, with Costa Rica leading the pack, ranked 15th in the world, followed by Mexico (18th), United States (27th) and Panama (53rd).

Hart said he was not moved by the ranking, saying that his main concern was the team’s readiness for the Gold Cup, which T&T kicks off on July 9 against Guatemala in Chicago.

“Like I said after the Panama game, the important thing for me and for the team is the preparation leading up to the Gold Cup which includes at least three proper international matches and training camps in order us for us to really go in there and compete with the rest of the region,” Hart said.

“Of course the rankings plays its part its part but it’s more important for us to straighten out everything in order for us to really get it right for the Gold Cup and the World Cup qualifiers which are right around the corner.”

Molino maintains ground

after Kaka’s credit

T&T midfielder Kevin Molino is keeping his feet on the ground and his head out of the skies days after receiving a recommendation from Brazilian star Kaka as a good pick for Italian club AC Milan.

Kaka’s comments received widespread coverage in the media as he was recorded as saying in an interview with the Italian magazine Gazzetta dello Sport, “Kevin Molino, he’s from Trinidad, a good forward. He must grow and learn, but he could do well.”

And what did Molino think about the words from one of Brazil’s footballing stars? Well, he’s honoured but not carried away.

“It’s a big deal when someone like Kaka says something like that about you. I was a bit surprised when I saw the report but I know he is someone who likes to encourage you and he wants the best for me and the rest of the team as team-mates. He’s been through it all and now he’s in a state where he can help and inspire. For me, there’s nothing better for my career at the moment,” Molino said.

“He’s been great on the training field and in the dressing room and of course you can see he’s settled in on the field so far in the season. I think we will continue to grow and get better as the matches come along.”

Molino set up Orlando’s opening goal in their 2–0 win over Portland Timbers on the weekend. His firm cross was chested into the goal by Canadian forward Cyle Larin on 30 minutes. Kaka converted a penalty to seal the win and push Orlando to third place in the Eastern Conference.

Stern says football

passion reignited

Former national team forward Stern John says his active role in the T&T Football 7 Academy, which was launched last Saturday in Trincity, has reignited his passion for the game.

John, T&T’s all-time top scorer with 70 goals, has been away from the professional game for just around four years. But now in his role as head coach of the T&T 7s Academy which caters for kids between the ages of 5-17 years old, the former Sunderland striker is once again buzzing round the football pitch.

“I’ve been away from the game for a long time and this has definitely opened my appetite for the game again. I think I’ve found my passion back. I love the game and it’s an honour coming out here to work with the kids and hopefully I can help develop a couple good players for T&T,” John said.

“We got a fantastic response to start the academy Hopefully we can continue encouraging more kids to come out and start learning more about the game and improving their level and to enjoy the game more especially the younger ones, “the ex-Crystal Palace man said.

John will also be sharing the experiences of his playing career with the young players in the academy and providing tips and advice on the game. He intends to work closely on goal finishing with the potential forwards. Goal scoring has proven to be a challenge for T&T national teams, particularly at the youth level and there’s no better forward in T&T colours from which to learn the art of scoring goals.

The former Southampton forward along with his support staff will conduct sessions Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays from 5-7 pm and Saturday mornings from 8-10 am at the T&T Football 7 Academy base at the Henry Street Recreation Ground in Trincity. Further information on the academy can be obtained by calling 488-7001 or 485-7001.

Chicago boss: Joevin can go places

A week after Joevin Jones made the MLS “Team of the Week” after his goal scoring performance for Chicago Fire, club head coach Frank Yallop says the former W Connection player “has the talent to really go places”.

“I think from day one he has shown his quality,” Yallop told after at Toyota Park on Thursday. “And it’s not just in matches he’s very good, in training too he’s very clean on the ball, engaged in everything we’re trying to do defensively and offensively, and he’s very easily coached. I’m very happy for him, he’s a good kid and he has the talent to really go places.”

The 23-year old T&T senior team player also came in for some commendation from his teammates, including captain Jeff Larentowicz, who said: “He’s played two different spots and done really well at both I don’t think it’s easy to go from an attacker to a defender from game to game and he’s done it pretty well. When he’s attacked, he’s set up a goal in San Jose and scored against Toronto, and when he’s defended he’s done really well, so he’s been very good for us.”

“He’s so creative,” forward Harry Shipp added. “He’s a defender but he’s got a much more attacking brain than most defenders do in this league.


National junior cyclist Kollyn St George added another gold medal to her collection, winning the junior women’s 500 metres time trial at the Junior Pan American Cycling Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico, on Tuesday night.

Sei Daniel also got on the podium for T&T, grabbing bronze in the junior men’s keirin to push T&T’s medal tally to three. St George broke the national junior, national elite and junior Pan American record when she stopped the clock in 35.04 seconds.

Keiana Lester also competed in the time trial, falling just shy of another medal for T&T after placing an agonising fourth. On Monday night Lester and St George won gold in the junior women’s team sprint. In his first outing at the Junior Pan Games, Tyler Cole finished fifth in the junior men’s scratch event.

Up to press time last night, St George and Lester qualified for the quarter-finals of the women’s individual sprint.

St George crushed the national junior and elite records with a time of 11.854, breaking the previous time of 12.235 set in 2013 at the same venue. Lester also went under the previous record, setting a personal best with a time of 12.001 seconds. St. George qualified with the sixth fastest time, while Lester was eighth fastest.

Also competing yesterday were Cole in the men’s omnium, Teniel Campbell in the women’s 2km individual pursuit and Ramon Belmontes in the men’s points race.


The Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee commenced the 22nd Sport Administrators course on Tuesday 14th April 2015 and is scheduled to end on May 2nd 2015. The course is designed to assist those who work in the Olympic and sport movement throughout Trinidad and Tobago, so that they may operate more effectively.

The modules in the course include: Role and Structure of the IOC, Ethics in Sport and Fair play, Communication, Governance in Sport, Constitution, Strategic Planning, Financial Management and Budgeting, Public Relations, Event Management, Sport Medicine, Marketing, Development Pathway and Sponsorship.

Participants in the 22nd course represent from different sporting disciplines including: Volleyball, Martial Arts, Squash, Hockey, Table Tennis, Water Polo, Special Olympics and Power Lifting.

The course is held at the TTOC Olympic House.

Tobago athletes made tremendous strides towards recording a 25th successive zonal title at the National Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships, on opening day at the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday.

By late afternoon, students from the sister isle were already leading the other zones, having seized a large haul that included 12 gold medals.

Day one started one-and-a-half hours late (10.30 am), due to problems with the sound system. Signal Hill’s Tariq Horsford was among the first to stamp his mark for Tobago. Competing in the Under-16 Boys division, the 15-year-old who just recently broke the Under-18 Boys Javelin record at the Carifta Games sent down a couple of huge throws to win gold by some distance, his best effort going a distance of 66.04 metres.

Another leading Tobagonian was Safiya John, last year’s top female athlete. The Scarborough Secondary student won the Under-16 Girls 80m Hurdles in 12.87 seconds, ahead of Schrese Trim (Signal Hill); later, Safiya added the High Jump with a leap of 1.55m.

Signal Hill’s Asha James also completed a first-day double, though in field action. James won the Girls U-18 Discus with a 24.40m throw, and followed with gold in the Javelin (43.40m).

Other gold medallists for Tobago were Tehealia Kennedy (Girls U-14 Shot Putt), Anya Akili (Girls U-16 100m Hurdles), Kimoi Noray (Girls Under-16 Javelin), Chevelle Mc Pherson (Girls Under-18 Long Jump), Anson Moses (Boys Under-16 100m Hurdles), Omari Benoit (Boys Under-18 High Jump) and Aaron Lewis (Boys under–20 110m Hurdles).

Chasing Tobago were Port-of-Spain and Environs, for whom another Carifta standout, Jeminise Parris (St Francois Girls) easily claimed the U-20 Girls 100m Hurdles in 14.55 seconds. Clement Campbell won the Under-18 Boys Long Jump, his QRC schoolmate Shaquille Singuineau added gold in the Under-18 Boys Shot Putt, and Kobe John (St. Anthony’s) claimed the Boys Under-18 110m Hurdles. The 100-metre finals were run off late yesterday. At the end of a long opening day, Tobago were comfortably ahead with 531.50 points; though Port-of-Spain won more gold medals, North-East were second on 326, six points more than Port of Spain.

100m Winners (Zones):

U-16 Girls: Ayla Stanisclaus (Tobago) 12.10.

U-16 Boys: Sylvan Sylvon (South-East) 11.29.

U-18 Girls: Shikyla Walcott (Victoria) 12.37.

U-18 Boys: Akanni Hislop (Tobago) 10.62.

U-20 Girls: Zakiya De Noon (Tobago) 12.10.

U-20 Boys: Xavier Mulugata (POS) 10.87.