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Track and field athletes impress T&T Olympic boss
Brian Lewis, president of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC), has described last weekend’s Sagicor/NGC Senior Open Track and Field Championships as a tremendous confidence boaster for this country’s participation at the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, from July 23-August 3.
The performances of the athletes at the three-day meet staged by the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, saw Olympic medallist Richard Thompson of Rebirth dethrone Keston Bledman to reclaim the men’s 100-metre title, and in the process establish a new national record of 9.82 seconds. Thompson previously held the national record of 9.85 since 2011.
Meanwhile, Janeil Bellille of Neon Trackers broke a 16-year-old national record in the women’s 400m to capture the quarter mile title in 51.83. Olympians Jarrin Solomon, Lalonde Gordon and Renny Quow battled for tops honours in the men’s 400-metre finals. It was Quow, however, who got the edge to clinch gold in 45.073.
In a G-sport interview, Lewis said, “Oh… Very encouraging! And it wasn’t only the performances of those who won. It’s great to see for example in the 100 metres Marc Burns and Darrel Brown. They have been around for quite a while being very competitive. Darrel Brown is at his best time I think since 2003. He has had a very tough time and for him to keep fighting and never give up that’s the kind of thing that people must understand: that resilience, that perseverance, that indomitable will.
We look at Michelle Lee-Ahye. Her performances continue to improve year on year. You have some of the younger people coming through (like) Kia Selvon. I am very hopeful.”
He added: “We are going into the Commonwealth Games with a tremendous confidence boaster with this weekend’s track and field performances at the track and field championships. We have this confidence boaster with Njisane’s (Phillip) performances. He seems to be back on track, so to speak, from his health issues earlier this year. George Bovell III seems to be evergreen and still improving. So, I think there is reasonable cause for significant optimism heading into the Commonwealth Games. I like what I am seeing from the young boxer Michael Alexander.”
Lewis scoffed at those in society who insist on ruling out the ability of athletes when their medal copping performances dipped. He described this practice of writing off such athletes as “a little fickle.” The TTOC official marvelled at the speed at which the public build up athletes when they were in championship mode, but were quicker to dismiss their medalling potential when they were going through difficult times.
“After the Olympics (London 2012) they were saying George Bovell III too old and you start to get these hurtful statements being made. Sport, just like life, is something that is full of ups and downs and people don’t recognise that there is a process, especially when you are involved in elite level sports. It’s a process, it’s a journey…not just a destination, and it requires perseverance and indomitable will.
“I believe it is the responsibility of the national sport organisations and the TTOC to be there for our athletes in good times and in bad times. If one was to judge sometimes from the talk shows and social media, you would see at times we tend to be very hard, even harsh on our athletes when they go through a loss of form,” Lewis said.
Lewis added: “I remember just last year, in the CPL (Caribbean Premier League), Dwayne Bravo being booed, at home. Look at the challenges Darrel Brown has had over the last couple years… Renny Quow? We have to understand that there are different reasons why people may lose form, whether it be through injury or other things and it is important that we have an environment that doesn’t come across as being band-wagonist in its approach.”
The TTOC official said he eagerly awaited the return of Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Semoy Hackett who were banned from competition and was not afraid to state his support publicly.
“I am not one of those who is there to be part of any lynch mob on these two female athletes. I have said it in the past and I will continue to say it. In my experiences dealing with them over the years, I have no doubt in my mind that they have a commitment to competing clean and air—that they are not deliberate drug cheats.
“I look forward to seeing them back in the mix. I think it is well publicised that Semoy Hackett’s situation has been brought to closure. She will resume her career sometime next year. From what I have seen in the media in the case of Kelly-Ann Baptiste, her due process is still on-going. That is something we just have to wait on. But I am confident that she will be able to rise above adversity and triumph,” said Lewis.