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Commonwealth Games gold medals and blues

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Now that the Commonwealth Games 2018 are in the history books, we can reflect on one of our more successful international performances in the recent past but also on one that showed the dark side of sports in T&T.

While the gold medal winning performances of Michelle-Lee Ahye and Jereem Richards along with the silver medal won by swimmer Dylan Carter will grabbed most of the highlights, we need to also spare a thought for a number of our athletes who filled the loneliest position in all of track and field, the fourth position. Fourth place finishes for Cleopatra Borel, the 4x100 women’s relay team and the 4x400 men’s relay team will not receive much notice in the annals of our history records, but the athletes who represented the red, white and black in these events need to be commended for giving their all in the service of the country.

While there is no doubt that our athletes did the best out at the Gold Coast of Australia, many of our athletes were clearly not emotionally or physically ready for the demands of these Games which were held fairly early in the track and field season.

In what could only be interpreted as a peculiar act by some not all our 100 meters gold medal winner made the incomprehensible decision not to represent her country in the 4x100 meters women’s relay; an event in which we finished fourth. The reason put forward by the athlete was that her coach advised her to only run the 100 meters.

One is left to speculate as to why a coach would deny an athlete a chance of winning multiple medals at an international sporting event, particularly one in which the team relays are meant to portray the true values of the sport, camaraderie and team spirit.

Of course some have stated rightfully or wrongfully that the coach is not from T&T and therefore, will not care about country, but rather the health and safety of his athlete so early in the season, and in all fairness that is plausible if not acceptable by some in T&T. Maybe, it has been suggested the pre-games comments of the coach of another of the 100 meters athletes preyed on the mind of our representatives, but if it did, the response was disappointing and Ms Ahye undoubtedly in the minds of some, let her country down at the end after taking it to a crescendo earlier.

She did indicate that she would block everything else out having made her decision, but when she retires and reflects on her career, she will no doubt regret this missed opportunity to add to her medal collection.

Then we had our 400 meters runners who all appeared below their best. The World Championship winning 4x400 men’s relay time were individually and collectively a shadow of their former selves. Favourites heading into the games, the final leg bumping and boxing in of Machel Cedenio was symptomatic of the trials of what our runners had shown through the individual event, where your form is affected, because your opponents seek all legal means to stop your progress. To be fair to Cedenio, he was stopped on at least three occasions; otherwise I believe we would have got at least the bronze medal.

It is early in the season, but this comment equally applies to all of the other runners who represented their countries. Again these talented athletes will reflect on a missed opportunities when they look back at their careers and it is to be hoped that they all learn from this disappointment. Of course, if the rest of their season is rewarding, then they may believe the programming preferences were in order. And let me add, that the third leg of Renny Quow was one of the best I have ever seen from him, the fight, the determination, the effort of being a champion.

Many of our athletes are right to be disappointed about the lack of support received from the Ministry of Sport over the years, but representing the red, white and black of your country remains the greatest service that one can provide to one’s country. It would be great if we could always feel appreciated for what we have to do, but ingratitude is as common in sports as it is in most other activities. Our sporting heroes need to find the strength to rise above the noise.

Allow me to praise, Alena Brooks on her national record in the Women’s 800 metres run, she had us going for a while, when she took the lead approaching the home straight. Then there was Kyle Greaux, who has clearly come of age and once he continues on this pathway, one can see many other finals and a medal or two. Shakeil Waithe’s spirit and dissatisfaction with just reaching the finals has to be applauded, he needs to work on his mental strength in the qualification phase as he admitted himself. Also Cleopatra Borel, who is now forced to live and train in Cuba because of circumstances, but continues to demonstrate the will and dedication to succeed. Now it’s for the powers that be to invest in Jonathan and Nathan Farinha in the sprints.


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