Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Walcott leads T&T contingent at opening
Olympic gold medallist Keshorn Walcott led the T&T contingent onto the floor at Celtic Park as they joined with athletes from the other countries, yesterday, to open the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
The javelin thrower proudly carried the T&T flag as he and his fellow Trinbagonians splendidly dressed in their red, black and white celebrated the beginning of what is to be a very intense competition over the next 10 days.
The smiles on their faces told it all. They have worked had to get here and that they were going to enjoy every moment that Glasgow has to offer.
The elite athletes were treated to a performance of singer Rod Stewart and actor James Avery, who is Scottish, also brought greetings.
Billy Connolly went on to give a heartfelt message to all gathered referring to words once said by the late, great Nelson Mandela. Using an artistic image of Mandela and his voice it said: “A city 6,000 miles away and as renowned as Glasgow refused to accept the legitimacy of the Apartheid system and declared us to be free.”
Connolly said his statement made him feel proud. He said, “Now imagine what Nelson Mandela would think of all of us here tonight—all colours side by side—everyone saying the same thing but in so many different languages…Equality is for all of us. Freedom is for all of us.”
The theme of yesterday’s opening though was the need to protect and care for the children of the Commonwealth nations. Queen Elizabeth was also present at the opening function as the crowd buoyantly sang the Scottish national anthem.
Later on as the temperature began to drop after a hot day, Queen Elizabeth declared the Games open after Scotland’s cycling star Sir Chris Hoy carried the torch to the Queen. In her speech, she thanked the organisations and the volunteers for their efforts and on “working diligently to bring the games to fruition.”
A colourful display of fireworks soon followed signalling the start of the Games But as exciting as the opening festivities were yesterday, T&T athletes were focused on their respective events carded for today, the first day of competition.
Early this morning, both Olympic bronze medallist George Bovell III and Dylan Carter will be making their debut at the event when they splash into action at the Tollcross Swimming Centre. Carter will open T&T’s participation at the Games in heat three of the men’s 400 metres freestyle in lane one at 5.47 am (T&T time).
Bovell will next line up in the men’s 50m butterfly heats at 6.48 am before Carter gets back in the water to contest the 100m backstroke. Both are hoping to advance to the semifinal rounds in their respective races in the evening session.
Over at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, it will be local cycling duo Njisane Phillip and Quincy Alexander taking to the track at 6 am in men’s sprint qualifying events.
T&T’s lone participant in the triathlon, David Cottle gets going at 10 am. Ranked the lowest of the five teams in group B, T&T netballers will look to get past Caribbean rival Barbados in their opening match at noon (T&T time).
Scotstoun Sports Campus will host both T&T’s table tennis and squash teams. The women’s team led by Rheann Chung that also include Aleena Edwards, Ashley Quashie and Catherine Spicer will open their campaign against UR Tanzania while the men’s team guided by Dexter St Louis plays Barbados.
The other members are Yuvraaj Dookram, Curtis Humphreys and Aaron Wilson. Later both men and women units play England At the other end of the venue, squash players Colin Ramasra, Kale Wilson, Charlotte Knaggs and Kerrie Sample will compete in their respective singles matches.
Knaggs takes the court first and will play Sri Lankan Naduni Gunawardane. Ramasra meets Ravindu Laksiri of Sri Lanka while Wilson faces Australia’s Cameron Pilley and Sample challenges Tesni Evans of Wales.
Both national hockey teams will take to the field at Glasgow National Hockey Centre with the women’s team facing South Africa in its opener and the men’s squad taking on England.