Let's be honest. Team T&T’s scorecard in the just concluded Tokyo Olympic Games reads ‘F’.
As much as we wished differently, our overall showing was a failure when compared to other Games, as for the first time since 1992, we left without a medal of any colour.
There's no question that our athletes went out there to win. We witnessed glowing moments and encouragements for the future. They tried and we're happy they did. They flew our flag from the heart. They deserve our gratitude.
However, the question remains, why, even though together we aspired, together we did not achieve.
On the one hand, we can all forget about it and limit our responses to “good effort guys”, “you did your best”, and “we win some, we lose some”.
On the other hand, we can insist that those responsible for the overall development and success of our athletes give us some answers.
The answers must come from the Minister of Sport and Community Development, Shamfa Cudjoe, the administrators, the Olympic Committee, the coaches and the athletes themselves.
We need not look much further than outside the Caribbean in assessing the strengths of others.
Cuba topped the region with seven gold, three silver and five bronze. The Bahamas won two gold medals, Grenada got a bronze, and Jamaica, four gold, one silver and four bronze medals. Team T&T returns empty-handed and we need to know why.
Some have argued that athletes were placed on training trajectories that would have led them to peak in 2020 when the Olympics were originally due. The suggestion is that due to the postponement, our athletes went to the games in less than ideal conditions.
It’s not an easy sell, given that this blankets all global athletes and required proper management to adjust schedules and training regimes accordingly. Did we make the right adjustments and if not, why not?
Jereem Richards hinted at another problem - the support base for athletes - in an Instagram post after the 200 metres final in which he crossed the line behind all other runners.
He stated: “From running in the road and struggling to find somewhere to train all 2020 to making an Olympic Finals and finished 8th fastest in the World in 2021 Ain’t God Great!!!”
Richards’ resolute spirit is laudable, but again, the Ministry and Olympic Committee have questions to answer. Were the shutdowns associated with COVID-19 the cause of Richards having to train in the road?
If so, were there no alternatives to ensure his access to proper training in the lead-up to the Olympics? Who managed Richards and why did this happen?
Richards was one of three athletes who received a combined sum of $450,000 as part of the Elite Athlete Assistance Programme in April this year, just four months before the start of the Games. But was he and the other athletes given proper financial support before that?
Those are just some unanswered questions but there are many.
What was our strategic planning? What are our scouting procedures to groom other athletes for excellence? Are the coaches we hire good enough? Are our athletes exposed to enough competitions? And of course, what can we learn from Jamaica?
Female sprinter, Michelle-Lee Ahye expressed frustration when another daughter of the soil, rap artiste Nicki Minaj openly supported Jamaican athletes on social media while the T&T runners were battling for spots in the finals and on the podiums.
To this we also ask, are we satisfied with the measures in place to motivate our athletes? And physical training apart, what degree of mental preparation did we employ?
We certainly do not have the answers to all these questions and it’s for that exact reason we call for a proper post-mortem, the findings of which must be made public.
Let it be done in an atmosphere of complete openness and honesty without fear of victimisation.
Short of that, we can go to France in 2024 only to find that at those Olympic Games, we never took the time to ensure we put our best feet forward.