NANCY JOSEPH and Ayana Dyette picked up from where they left off last year when the Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation’s (TTVF) 2015 beach volleyball season served off Saturday at Saith Park, Chaguanas.

After convincingly winning all the tournaments they contested at home last year, the country’s top-rated pair made it ten in a row, while fellow favourites Fabian Whitfield and Daneil Williams cruised to the men’s title.

There were five men’s and women’s pairs in the straight round-robin competition and both champions went through the day undefeated. In fact, Dyette and Joseph, who surrendered just three sets from their nine tournaments last year, did not drop a single set from their four matches.

Improving youngsters La Teisha Joseph and Apphia Glasgow were next best, while Elki Philip and Shenelle Gordon rounded out the top three.

Philip and Pauline Woodroffe were ranked second in the country last year, but Woodroffe is out of the country and Philip ended up playing alongside Gordon. Christian Francois and Kevin Rivers finished second to the “Toco Boys” and were followed by national indoor player Sean Morrison and Marlon Philip, a youngster who flew the red, white and black flag in the qualifying tournament in November 2013 for last year’s World Youth Olympics.

Williams and Whitfield, who secured this country’s only NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) medal when they picked up bronze in the ’13 circuit, was T&T’s male pair in the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in November in Mexico.

Joseph and Dyette also played in the CAC Games and reached the quarterfinals after competing in six of ten events in last year’s NORCECA tour. The TTVF series of tournament are designed to prepare players for regional and international events this season and the second one is scheduled for Saturday.

RIA RAMNARINE’S “Boxing Beyond The Ring” has surpassed the unlimited expectations of her avid and enthusiastic participants.

At the Fine Line Boxing Gym in Chaguanas yesterday, the former national female boxing standout held her programme’s penultimate session with the group of both young and mature women. Throughout the six week course thus far, Ramnarine and Fine Line coach Bharath Ramoutar has been educating these women on several basic awareness, protective knowledge and techniques which can prove instrumental in dangerous and challenging day-to-day situations.

The mission of this brainchild initiative by Ramnarine is to encourage female participation in boxing through a training programme which enables participants to understand that apart from the sport outcome, the physiological and psychological benefits of boxing lead to an increase in self-efficiency, empowerment and personal safety. At the Gym yesterday, Ramnarine and her assistant male tutor went through several mental and physical routines with her attentive all-female class. Several members of her unit hail from varying “female empowerment” organisations throughout the twin-island republic and were all in high praise of the boxer’s idea, who they claim, has been reaping bountiful benefit.

After a hectic session yesterday morning, Marlene Charles, president of the Young Women Christian Association, expressed her gratitude towards the initiative and chose to highlight some of her knowledge gained from her sessions at “Boxing Beyond The Ring”.

“Boxing was on my list of things to do before I reached 50,” she said. “I like the fact that’s a class for women. As a woman, sometimes you feel self conscious when you go to the gym because of so many skinny people. However, it’s a comfortable environment here.”

“I like the idea that it’s not just about boxing,” Charles added. “In the first week, Ria brought an official to explain the legal aspects of self-defence, and there was a lot of stuff revealed that I did not know. A lot of things that you thought you know, we’re now open to understanding it here.” Two younger members of the class, 16-year-old Kimberly Baptiste and 15-year-old Shenelle Ramsamooj, both of ASJA Girls in Charlieville, also took part in the programme and welcomed the mental and physical benefits of the course.

“The things that we thought we could have done, we can now. The fear factor has been removed from us a bit and we’re a bit more confident in ourselves. We have learnt a lot about observing our surroundings and being preventative before use of physical strengths. This is not a programme to fight, it’s a programme that educates young women like myself, which makes us a lot more aware of our actions,” said Baptiste.

Chatting with the tiny-framed Ramsamooj, she also stated that her mental confidence has been elevated. Bullying in schools is now an unwelcome but present occurrence. While the youngster admitted such violent acts are not prevalent at her school, she was happy to know that programmes such as “Boxing Beyond The Ring” can assist in providing a heightened awareness for females, especially when crime and other discrepancies reign supreme in TT’s now sick society.

“Ria makes it so easy for us to feel at home and we’re comfortable learning more about ourselves. I’m so tiny but the confidence I have built up now, I feel better about myself. Don’t judge the book by the cover,” Ramsamooj joked. All in all, every woman present at Ramnarine’s session yesterday made an open plea to her to continue hosting events such as these. They expressed delight in her initiative and welcomed women from all walks of life to consider getting involved in activities such as this, in an effort to broaden their mental and physical horizons. Saturday is the final class day of “Boxing Beyond The Ring” and participants will graduate and receive certification upon the completion of this course one week prior (March 7) at the Fine Line Gym. The graduation boxes off from 5-7 pm.


Boxing? You crazy ah what?’ it was the response I got from my dad when I first told him that I wanted to be a boxer. Things were difficult with my family then, we struggled to make ends meet, my dad was a cane cutter and one of those traditional Indo-Trinidadians who didn’t understand why his daughter was joining a gym when she could be studying or working instead. I really wanted to do better for my family but at the same time I had a fascination with muscles. And so, my boxing chance came when I stumbled upon the Fine Line Fight Factory Gym (my home gym now). After making some enquiries about fees and schedule, despite my uncertainty (I didn’t know how I was going to pay the fees and tell my parents that I was joining a gym) my boxing journey began on August 24th 1995. Armed with a five dollar bill, some singles and a handful of coins I paid my fees and began my first weight training session.

I have shared this testimony with the girls and women I mentor and teach at my programme- Boxing Beyond the Ring (BBR), all the time. Actually, it’s this sacrifice which made me embark upon such a programme in the first place. An introductory programme to boxing and self-defense, whereby participants spend six weeks training under the guidance of qualified coaches, the aim of BBR is to educate people about the benefits of the sport, the fact that boxing is a sporting opportunity as well as a socially uplifting and developmental tool. It marries the physical and psychological training required to elevate self-esteem and improve confidence, to develop self-efficacy and to become equipped with self–protection techniques which can be employed when confronted with unwanted situations. It was my boxing back story which brought me to this new purpose which is the enhancement of other women and girls with boxing, my vehicle.
My boxing back story. It is a bittersweet saga of sadness yet success. An obstacle course with a trophy in the far distance- many of the women I mentor have their fair share of hurdles and many times their vision of reward is blocked. Boxing taught me how to jump over these hindrances and claim victory as sometimes your hurdles can be right at your doorstep. My first hurdle was the countless arguments with my dad (I only told him about my enrollment in the gym after I decided to participate in an in-house karate competition). My dad served his role in my journey, however, for his wrath propelled my fast growing resilience and determination. Within no time, my sporting appetite increased as kickbox-ing beckoned and being the chump I am for a challenge, I sidestepped my way into the class.
Life became disciplined afterwards but my commitment wasn’t only because of competition. Sometimes the benefits of sport come outside the realm of competition. Back then being a champion in the ring wasn’t my real focus, I just wanted to experience a fight in the square circle, I wanted to do something outside of my comfort space, I wanted to build character. This is a philosophy some of the older women in my classes observe. Like the fifty-something-year-old woman who enrolled in BBR because boxing and self-defence was on her “to do” list, it was a challenge she wanted to undertake in her lifetime. Boxing was on my “to do” list as well. I would fantasise, I would dream, I would envision myself climbing over the ropes, bouncing into the ring, executing my kicks and punches skillfully and then having my hand raised in victory, just like I had seen happen with the guys from the gym.
On March 28th 1998, a big part of this dream came through. I climbed over the ropes, fought my heart out, but my hand wasn’t raised. I almost threw a tantrum in the ring as they announced it a draw. It was my first clash with the darker side of sport, the unfairness and favouritism in the ring. As the crowd booed the decision, I was gently led out the ring by my coach and team mates and I realised that it could have been worse. When the coach of your opponent is the promoter and the referee of the bout, and the judges are the friends of your opponent, you know you did good with a draw.
Never give up; success comes after failure… A year and a half later I would have my chance again and this time I didn’t leave it to the judges. With some heavy punches, I forced the referee to save my opponent, and this time the glee was only too apparent as I clapped like a child in the ring. I will never forget that moment, it was one of the best ever in my career. That’s why I always implore the young girls in the gym to never give up on life. BBR includes a cast of many girls and women who have been served with some of the harshest realities as the programme partners with St Jude’s School for Girls, the Organisation for Abused and Battered Individuals (OABI) and other Women’s Empowerment organisations. This positive attitude in the midst of adversity is important in their advancement.
Pain is the prelude to perfect- it’s another saying I impart to the girls. My taste of international competition was painful at times (black eyes and hard punches). It was the moment when my father realised that come hell or high water, I was into my sport for better or worse. After losing a tough fourth-round battle to a world champion who weighed 16 pounds heavier, I came home and didn’t miss a beat- I trained against my coach’s orders. But my stubbornness would pay off when two weeks later I made my professional boxing debut and scored a second-round knockout.
Soon I became chronic when it came to training. Boxing and kickboxing became the centre of my world and while I dealt with different jobs, studies and personal issues, I found salvation in the gym. And that’s the thing about sport; it is a very constructive distraction away from life’s stresses. But in as much as boxing was a great distraction, it wasn’t an easy road. The humps, potholes, bumps and barricades were frequent and threatened to discourage me on several occasions. But with the faith, motivation and belief of my coach, Bharrath Ramoutar, I continued to trek the treacherous road. By then he had seen world champion written in my destiny, he had seen the discipline and dedication that even I wasn’t aware I showed. He saw when others didn’t. My mother’s blessings and the rest of my family’s support upheld me. Five years after my pro debut, I accepted the challenge for a world title and what a battle it was. The fight to get the fight was a Herculean task by itself. I remember the struggle to pull things together, the lack of funds, the naysayers, those within the boxing fraternity itself who laughed at us. Coming from a kickboxing background, being a cane-cutter’s daughter and being bold enough to contest for a world boxing title didn’t sit well with many.
After paying the fees necessary to sanction the bout, Ramoutar and I had only enough money left to buy one Gatorade. At the weigh-in, he was forced to literally beg the then chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Boxing Board of Control to allow the bout to take place. The rest only became history after a controversy erupted which the paparazzi and media grabbed wholesale. It felt as though I, a little 105-lbs fighter with heart, was up against an army. But where there is a will there is a way and on May 28th 2005, T&T had its first female world boxing champion. Despite attempts to discredit my accomplishment (hearsay that there was a previous T&T female world champion), my name was on the box record listing, with a T&T flag right next to it.
Unfortunately, my struggles didn’t end there as I was denied several accolades and it was funny since the persons who were voted in my place, would always come and apologise to me. And so there were many more chapters of hardship, bias and controversy which tarred my mission, my financial support, my boxing pathway and my name.
But in chaos there is always a silver lining. The young woman and assault victim with the optimistic smile agreed with this saying a few days ago at a BBR session at the gym. Indeed, my popularity and opportunities to improve the lives of others came as latent blessings in my journey. Fights came and went, I won some, I lost others. Then came the hiatus when there was no Boxing Board in place to sanction bouts so I refocused on kickboxing and copped the Pan-American title in November 2008.
Scenes of despair followed — unfortunately Jizelle Salandy, my co-boxer, died in a vehicular accident early in 2009 and scenes of new opportunities — a collaboration with promoter Boxu Putts aided my capture of a few more world titles and some more awards. But these feats didn’t save me from the criticism of the so-called boxing pundits despite the filled VIP seats for boxing bouts and a new interest by fans in boxing.
Eventually, my focus took a turn around and my involvement in the Defence Force Physical Training Instructors course (2014), the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic (TTOC), my involvement in Fine Line as a coach, athlete and administrator sealed and my enrollment in the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) certification paved a the road to BBR. It seemed like my destiny as my final assignment project for the International Coaching Enrichment Certification Program (a coaching education program facilitated by the United States Olympic Committee and the University of Delaware, and funded by the International Olympic Committee) morphed into my life project and purpose.
Today I am looking beyond the ring. While my boxing career has been punctuated with highs and lows what I hold dear to me are the lessons learned, the experience gained and the opportunities presented. My years through the sport has given me so much and has provided me with the platform on which I can truly seek to make a valuable difference to T&T. BBR is my win now, my new belt and I know it will be the victory for many women throughout Trinidad and Tobago.


Comeback victory for Baptiste

While many of their compatriots were enjoying the build-up to Carnival 2015, last weekend, Trinidad and Tobago track stars Deon Lendore and Michelle-Lee Ahye were busy producing world-class performances at indoor meets in the United States.

In New York, on Saturday, Ahye clocked a fast 7.11 seconds—just one-hundredth of a second slower than her 7.10 national record--to finish second in the Millrose Games women’s 60 metres dash. Ivory Coast sprinter Murielle Ahoure won in a world-leading 7.05.

Ahye is third on the 2015 world indoor list with her 7.11 run, one spot behind Dafne Schippers (7.09) of the Netherlands.

In Arkansas, on Friday, Lendore topped the Tyson Invitational men’s 400m field. The Texas A&M University senior stopped the clock at 45.38 seconds to move into second spot on the 2015 world indoor list, behind American Najee Glass (45.34).

Pennsylvania State University student Steve Waithe finished seventh in the men’s triple jump with a 15.73 metres effort. University of Arkansas senior Sparkle McKnight was 17th overall in the women’s 400m in 53.76 seconds, while South Plains College student Domonique Williams (53.82) was 18th.

Another T&T/South Plains athlete, Aaliyah Telesford clocked 7.50 seconds for 19th spot in the women’s 60m. In the women’s 200m, Telesford (24.23) and McKnight (24.41) were 39th and 47th, respectively. And in the women’s 60m hurdles, Baylor University’s Dannielle Davis was 40th in 8.68 seconds.

Competing for the first time since her ban for using steroids was lifted last month, Kelly-Ann Baptiste was in winners’ row at the LSU High Performance Meet, in Louisiana. Baptiste clocked 7.24 seconds to lead all qualifiers into the women’s 60m final. And in the championship race, the 2011 World Championship 100m bronze medallist got home first in 7.28.

At the David Hemery Valentine Invitational, in Boston, double Olympic bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon finished first in section one and second overall in the men’s 200m in 20.71 seconds--good enough for seventh spot on the 2015 world indoor list.

Temple University’s Kiersten LaRoche finished fifth in the women’s long jump with a 5.69m leap, 14th in the high jump (1.65m), and 35th in the shot put (10.69m).

In New Mexico, Jarrin Solomon was the class of the Don Kirby Elite and Open men’s 400m field, the T&T athlete winning in 47.06 seconds.

Central Arizona College student, Ruebin Walters clocked a personal best 7.88 seconds to secure silver in the men’s 60m hurdles. Walters also competed in the men’s 200m event, finishing 21st overall in 21.82.

Western Texas College sprinter, John Mark Constantine bagged men’s 60m bronze with a personal best clocking of 6.74 seconds. Central Arizona College field athlete, Hezekiel Romeo threw 17.33m to finish ninth in the men’s shot put. Constantine’s Western Texas teammate, Marissa Gale finished 10th overall in the women’s 400m in 56.85 seconds. New Mexico Junior College sprinter, Kayelle Clarke was 11th in the women’s 60m dash in 7.75 and 21st in the 200m in 24.45. And in the women’s 60m hurdles, University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) student, Aeisha McDavid clocked 8.85 seconds for 24th spot.

In Maryland, Deandra Daniel retained her Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Indoor Track and Field Championship women’s high jump title when she cleared the bar at 1.85m--a meet record and new personal best. In the women’s long jump, the Coppin State University junior produced a 5.63m leap to finish fourth.

Coppin State’s Mark London returned a time of one minute, 56.75 seconds for 15th spot overall in the men’s 800m. And Coppin State sprinter Haysean Cowie-Clarke was 25th in the men’s 60m in 7.04 seconds.

At the Adams State University (ASU) NCAA Qualifier, in Colorado, Adams State freshman Micah Ballantyne finished second in the men’s 200m in 22.46 seconds.

In Alabama, Western Kentucky University sprinter Peli Alzola was eighth in the Samford Invitational women’s 200m in 24.97 seconds.

At the Fred Wilt Invitational, in Indiana, Missouri State University freshman Kadisha Francois got to the line in 25.58 seconds for 11th spot in the women’s 200m.

Osei Alleyne-Forte finished 20th overall in the men’s 400m, at the Southland Conference Indoor Championships, in Alabama. The Abilene Christian University (ACU) student got home in 50.01 seconds. Another T&T/ACU athlete, Jessica James clocked 55.95 to qualify second fastest for the women’s 400m finals. However, she was disqualified in the championship race for a false start.

At the Battle of the Regions outdoor meet, in California, Ayodele Taffe topped the men’s 200m field in 21.52 seconds, beating his College of the Sequoias teammate and fellow T&T sprinter, Holland Cabara (21.57) into second spot. Another T&T/Sequoias athlete, Ohdel James clocked 48.89 seconds to win the men’s 400m.


The United States has been named as the host of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) qualifying tournament for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The under-23 competition, which is due to take place from October 1 to 13 this year, will see eight nations battling for the two tops spots that will automatically grant places at Rio 2016, where they will be hoping to repeat the success of CONCACAF nation Mexico, who claimed the gold medal at London 2012.

The third placed country will also earn the right to face South American Olympic qualifying runner-up Colombia in a playoff for one additional spot at the Games in Brazil.

"The Olympic Qualifying Championship provides an ideal stage for CONCACAF nations to demonstrate the bright future the Confederation holds on the field," Jeffrey Webb, President of CONCACAF, said.

"We look forward to some great soccer as the competing nations strive to match our historic Olympic performances three years ago in England, from Honduras and, of course, Mexico 2012 Olympic champion."

The tournament will divide the teams, which comprise hosts the US, Canada, Mexico, three nations from the Central American region and two from the Caribbean - to be decided in the coming months, into two groups of four, with the top two finishers in each group after round-robin play advancing to the semi-finals.

"We are looking forward to hosting the Olympic Qualifying Championship and showcasing the quality of soccer in the region," said US Soccer President Sunil Gulati.

"The Olympics hold a special place in the hearts of all Americans and this is a great opportunity to see these young athletes from across North, Central America and the Caribbean compete for the opportunity to reach their goal of playing in the Olympic Games."

Details of host venues, ticketing information and the competition schedule will be announced following the qualifying tournaments in Central America and the Caribbean.


The Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee(TTOC) vision is for two Trinidad and Tobago team sports to qualifying for the Olympic Games by the year 2024.

To date no Trinidad and Tobago national team has ever qualified for a Summer Olympic Games.

The TTOC intends to convince  national sport organizations (NSOs) responsible for team sports to include Olympic qualification as a critical aspect of their (NSOs) long term strategic and development  plan.

A sport on the TTOC's Olympic qualification radar is football.

The TTOC believes that a serious effort by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association(TTFA)  to qualify a national football team for the Olympic Games  can only benefit  T&T football .

In respect of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games three national team sports in contention for possible Olympic qualification are football, hockey and rugby 7s.

Photo caption: TTOC President Brian Lewis and Hazel Mootoo, Human Resource Manager Deloitte Touche  (T&T) at a recent #10golds24 cheque presentation