Trinidad and Tobago athletes ensured the country’s best ever performance at the Olympic Games. Led by the young and humble Keshorn Walcott, the contingent returned home with one gold and three bronze medals from the London Games, improving on the one silver and two bronze from the 1964 Rome Olympics.
The 19-year-old Toco resident defied the form book and denied the favourites in the Olympic men’s javelin finals hurling the spear out to 83.51 metres to take the lead and then extend it to 84.58 to secure T&T’s second ever Olympic title and become the youngest ever to win the event. He now joins 1976 Montreal Olympic men’s 100m winner Hasely Crawford as this country’s Olympic victors. Walcott ensured a memorable trip for T&T in London, the city where our country debuted on the Olympic arena in 1948. Walcott ended the season with the 12th best throw.
Lalonde Gordon opened the medal count with a surprising bronze medal run in the men’s 400m finals in 44.52 seconds to win T&T’s first medal in the event since Wendel Mottley’s silver back in 1964. Gordon then got a second with the men’s 4x400m team of Jarrin Solomon, Ade Alleyne-Forte and Deon Londore which finished third in a national record of 2:59.40 (Mottley and team also collected bronze in 1964). The men’s 4x100m team also collected bronze to match the silver won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics by the same team of Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callendar and Richard Thompson. The USA was the only other country to medal in both relay events in London.
Among the women, Kelly-Ann Baptiste led the way to become the first T&T woman to qualify for an Olympic finals. The 2011 World Championships bronze medallist was sixth in the women’s 100m dash in 10.94 in a fast race. Baptiste’s fellow Tobagonian Semoy Hackett became this country’s second female Olympic finalist with her eighth place finish in the women’s 200m.
The two joined up with Kai Selvon and Michelle Lee Ahye to book a spot in the women’s 4x100m finals with a national record of 42.31 in the heats. However, in the medal round the quartet failed to finish. Cleopatra Borel qualified for the second finals in the women’s shot put.
Walcott was again at the forefront at the junior level, ending the season unbeaten. He blazed to his fourth Carifta gold when he won his third straight boys under-20 javelin gold in a games record of 77.59m.
Walcott’s gold was one of six for the national squad. Jonathan Farinha, Mark London, Chelsea James, Kenejah Williams, and Andwuelle Wright were the other winners. The contingent collected 22 medals, the lowest tally in eight years.
Walcott retained his CAC Junior title in El Salvador with a mammoth throw of 82.83 (Olympic A standard). Williams, Wright, Machel Cedenio, Kernesha Spann, Reubin Walters, Kevin Roberts and the boys under-18 4x100m squad all struck gold as the national team came away with 23 medals. The Toco-born Walcott continued his winning ways at the World Juniors Championships in Barcelona, Spain coming from behind with a last round throw of 78.64m. Cedenio, Jereem Richards, Asa Guevara and Brandon Benjamin combined to take bronze in the men’s 4x400m team in 3:06.32.
At the juvenile level, T&T finished third at the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) Games in Jamaica with 32 medals to finish behind Barbados and Jamaica. Adel Colthrust was one of the standouts, speeding to the boys under-13 100m and 200m titles and helping the 4x100m team to gold. Avindale Smith, Josiah Edwards, Javaugh Watson, Akidah Briggs, Jenea, Kashief King, Tiffany Watson and Tariq Horsford all landed gold in Jamaica.
On the local scene, Briggs (Toco Secondary) and Franklyn Stanisclaus (Bishop’s High) emerged as the top athletes at the Secondary Schools Championships. Briggs copped four gold medals. The Carifta and CAC Junior javelin medallist led Toco to the girls’ school title while Stanisclaus was a triple winner and guided Tobago to a 20th zonal title.
At the Primary Schools Championships, Akil Boisson edged Colthrust for the overall boys’ title as Aquila St Louis sailed away with the girls’ award. Port-of-Spain finished ahead of Tobago and Caroni in the race for the top district.
Among the masters, Geraldine George and Gwendolyn Smith shone on the global stage with a double double at the World Indoor Masters Championships in Jyvaskla Finland. George took the women’s 40-44 javelin and shot-put title to add to her two golds at the 2010 edition of the meet. Smith captured the same disciplines in the 45-49 age group. The pair led T&T at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Masters Champs in Canada with each winning three gold medals. George secured the women’s shot-put, javelin and discus crowns among the 40-45 competitors, while Smith matched George’s feat in the 45-49 division.
T&T returned home with three medals from the North American, Central American and Caribbean Under-23 Championships with one silver (women’s 4x400m) and two bronze: Quincy Wilson (men’s discus), Hilenn James (women’s discus). The women’s 4x400m quartet of Jessica James, Shawna Fermin, Aleena Brooks and Sparkle McKnight looked particularly impressive may a team to look for in the future.
Our sprinters continued the country’s fine tradition with national 100m record-holders Richard Thompson and Kelly-Ann Baptiste were at the helm. Thompson is among six local men listed in the top 100 in the men’s with only powerhouses Jamaica (31) and the USA (20) boasting of more sprinters. Keston Bledman is the top of the pack after he beat Thompson for the national title clocking 9.86 (6th in the world). Thompson is at 14th (9.96), with Marc Burns (20th-10.00), Rondel Sorillo (26th-20.02), Emmanuel Callendar (37th-10.07) and Jamol James (66th-10.17) all following behind.
Baptiste is at 5th in the women’s 100m after dashing to 10.86 in her season opener in Jamaica in May. An achilles injury slowed her progress but the sprint queen recovered to place 6th in the Olympic finals in 10.94, her fifth sub-11 clocking for the year. Compatriots Semoy Hackett (14th-11.04), Michelle Lee Ahye (42nd-11.19), Kai Selvon (54th-11.21) and Reyare Thomas (74th-11.30) are all in the top 100m with personal best (pb) runs.
Hackett was the top performer over the 200m placing eighth in the Olympic finals after national record of 22.55 (18th) in the semifinals, equalling the mark she had set earlier in the year at the NCAA East Regionals in May. Selvon dropped her pb to 22.85 (52nd) to advance to the Olympic semifinals. Sorillo was the male half-lapper in the top 100 at 39th with 20.40.
Lalonde Gordon jumped to 6th in the world in the men’s one lap event with his bronze-medal clocking at the Olympics of 44.52, becoming the second fastest local quarter miler ever. Young Deon Lendore is at 30th (45.13) with Jarrin Solomon at 43rd (45.31).
In the hurdles, Jehue Gordon is living up to his junior potential with a sixth-placed finish in the men’s 400m hurdles finals in London. In the semifinals he smashed his previous national record with a 47.96 run (6th in the world/37th on the all-time list). Wayne Davis also lowered the national mark in the men’s 10m hurdles clocking 13.37 at the Big 12 Champs to end the season at 36th in the world. The Olympic semifinalist is joined by Mikel Thomas (56th-13.48) in the top 100 with Durrel Busby just outside at 102nd (13.67).
Veteran Cleopatra Borel is at 19th in the women’s shot-put (18.82) with Annie Alexander at 58th (17.36). In the discus, Alexander is one place out of the top 100 (101st-56.78). Triple jumper Ayanna Alexander made her breakthrough in 2012 with a series of national records culminating with 14.15m to book a spot at the London Olympics. The 2012 Commonwealth Games silver medallist missed out on making the finals by 7cm.
The Olympic men’s 4x400m bronze winning quartet of Gordon, Solomon, Lendore and Ade Alleyne-Forte is at 3rd in the mile-relay ranking with its third national record run of the season of 2:59.40 (17th on the all-time list). The 4x100m squad is at 9th with their London semifinal run of 38.10 (38.12 in the finals).
The athletes continue to deliver for Trinidad and Tobago but the role of the NAAA in showcasing their performances needs to be improved. Much the efforts of the athletes goes unnoticed save and except the end-of-year awards ceremony. The clash of personalities at the Ministry of Sports and the NAAA seem to continue much to the disadvantage of the athletes.
T&T ATHLETES ON THE WORLD TRACK AND FIELD RANKINGS FOR 2012
6 9.86 (+1.4) Keston Bledman 1 Nat Champs POS June 23 (15th all-time list)
14 9.96 (+1.4) Richard Thompson 2 Nat Champs POS June 23
20 10.00 (+1.6) Marc Burns 3 Luzern Switzerland July 17
26 10.03 (+1.4) Rondel Sorillo 3 Nat Champs POS June 23 PB
37 10.07 (+1.5) Emmanuel Callender 1 Caixa Grande Rio de Jan May 20
66 10.17 (+1.4) Jamol James 6 Nat Champs POS June 23 PB
103 10.21 (-0.2) Aaron Armstrong 2sf1 Nat Champs POS June 23
111 10.22 (+1.7) Moriba Morain 1 Pres. Classics POS May 27 PB
136 10.25 (-0.2) Darrel Brown 2sf1 Nat Champs POS June 23
180 10.29 (+0.2) Shermund Allsop 2sf2 Nat Champs POS June 23 PB
5 10.86 (+1.0) Kelly-Ann Baptiste 2 Jamaican Open Kingston, JAM (May 5)
14 11.04 (+1.5) Semoy Hackett 2h6 Olympics London, GBR, (Aug 3) PB
42 11. 19 (+1.5) Michelle Lee-Ahye 2r1 Mt SAC Relays California, USA (Apr 2) PB
54 11.21 (+1.8) Kai Selvon 3h3 NCAA Champs Iowa, USA (Jun 6) PB
74 11.30 (+0.3) Reyare Thomas 1 NJCAA Champs Texas, USA May 17 PB
155 11.43 (+1.1) Ayanna Hutchinson 7 Quantum Clas POS, USA May 19
39 20.40 (+1.5) Rondel Sorillo 3 Luzern, Switzerland July 17
122 20.62 (+1.1) Lalonde Gordon 1 NY Twilight, New York May 12
170 20.71 (+0.2) Shermund Allsop 5 NCAA East, Florida USA May 26 PB
189 20.74 (+0.7) Emmanuel Callender 1sf2 Nat Champs, POS June 24
207 20.77 (+0.6) Moriba Morain 3 Quantum Clas, POS May 19 PB
225 20.80 (+1.9) Richard Thompson 5 Mt. Sac Relays, CA, USA April 21
244 20.82 (+0.6) Jereem Richards 4 Quantum ClaS, POS May 19 PB
18 22.55 (+0.2) 1r2 NCAA East Florida May 26/(22.55(+1.0)
3h2Olympics London GBR Aug 7 NR
52 22.85 (+0.3) Kai Selvon 4h4 Olympics GBR August 6 PB
104 23.13 (+0.80 Michelle Lee-Ahye 1 President Classic POS, T&T—May 27 PB
148 23.29 (+1.9) Sparkle McKnight 1r2 Texas Tech Open Texas, USA–May PB
169 23.36 (-1.9) Reyare Thomas 3r2 National Champs POS, T&T–June 24 PB
6 44.52 Lalonde Gordon 3 Olympics Games London GBR AuG 6 (66th all time list) PB
30 45.13 Deon Lendore 1 Big 12 Champs Kansas, USA May 13 PB
43 45.31 Jarrin Solomon 2 Bottrop Gala Bottrop GER July 7 PB
63 45.48 Renny Quow 2 Jamaica Invite Kingston, JAM May 5
144 46.02 Machel Cedenio 5 National Champs POS June 23 PB
167 46.13 Ade Alleyne Forte 6 National Champs POS June 23 PB
132 52.44 Sparkle McKnight 1r2 National Champs POS, T&T June 23 PB
158 52.66 Shawna Fermin 2 PAC 12 Champs Oregon USS May 13 PB
128 1:46.88 Jamaal James 5 John Hay Memorial Pennsylvania USA, June 9 PB
110m Hurdles Men
26 13.37 (+1.8) Wayne Davis 1 Big 12 Champs Kansas USA (May 13) NR
56 13.48 (+1.9) Mikel Thomas 1 Texas Relays Austin USA (March 31) PB
102 13.60 (+1.3) Durrel Busby 4sf2 NCAA West Austin, USA (May 26) PB
158 13.81 (nwi) Jehue Gordon 1 Falcons Games POS (April 1) PB
100m Hurdles Women
85 13.07 (+1.1) Josanne Lucas 1 National Champs POS, T&T June 23
106 13.15 (+2.0) Aleesha Barber 4r2 NTC Lance Chance Meet Florida, USA June 02
400m Hurdles Men
6 47.96 Jehue Gordon 2sf1 Olympic Games London GBR Aug 4 (37th all time list) NR
45 55.91 Janiel Bellille 1 Texas Relays Texas, USA (March 31)
46 55.92 Josanne Lucas 1 Florida, USA NTC Star Athletic Sprint Meet (June 9)
128 57.42 Sparkle McKnight 3 Texas Relays Texas, USA (March 31) PB
Long Jump Men
98 7.91 (-1.3) Kyron Blaise 3 SEC Champs Ba. Rouge USA May 12 PB
Triple Jump Men
92 16.49 (+0.8) Kyron Blaise 2 SEC Champs Baton Rouge USA May 13 (16.53 wind assisted) PB
48 14.15 (+1.0) Ayanna Alexander 1 Quantum Classic POS, T&T May 19 NR
Shot Put Women
19 18.82 Cleopatra Borel 1 Plio Citta Meet Revereto, Italy Sep 4
58 17.36 Annie Alexander 4 NCAA Champs Iowa, USA June 8
103 16.54 Hilenn James 12 NCAA Champs, Iowa, USA June 8 PB
162 58.27 Quincy Wilson 2 Quantum Classic POS May 19
101 56.78 Annie Alexander 1 SEC Champs Louisiana, USA May 13
113 55.92 Hilenn James 2 SEC Champs Louisiana, USA May 13 PB
12 84.58 Keshorn Walcott 1 Olympic Games London GBR August 11 (85th-all time)NR
9 38.10 T&T 3h2 Olympic Games London GBR London GBR August 10
6 42.31 T&T 2h1 Olympics London, GBR August 9 NR (17th on all time list)
3 2:59.40 T&T 3 Olympic Games London GBR London GBR August 10
53 3:30.03 T&R 2 NACAC U23 Champs Irapuato, Mexico July 8