Long jumper Kelsey Daniel and javelin thrower Tyriq Horsford were the bright spots for track and field.
Their achievements came late in the season at the inaugural Junior Pan American Games which unfolded in Cali, Colombia from November 25 to December 5 where T&T was represented by 23 athletes in the sport.
Horsford won T&T's first medal at the Under-23 Games, a bronze medal after sending the spear 71.33 metres in the men's long jump event on
A day later, Daniel copped a silver medal in the men's long jump with a 7.90m-leap.
In July, Horsford helped T&T place seventh overall on the 18-country standings at the three-day North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-18, U-20 and U-23 Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica, with seven medals - three gold medals, two silver and two bronze.
The gold medallists were Horsford in the U-23 javelin event, Rae-Ann Serville in the women's U-23 400m (54.85) and Dillon Leacock, the lone entrant in the U-20 men’s 4oom hurdles (53.45).
The silver medallists were Clement Campbell (7.37m) in the U-23 men's long jump and Leah Bertrand in the women's U-20 100m. Bertrand placed second with 11.70 (.693) seconds, edging Antigua and Barbuda’s Joella Lloyd 11.70 (.697) at the line.
Kion Benjamin and Iantha Wright secured were the bronze medallists. Benjamin picked up T&T’s second medal in the men’s U-23 100m dash (10.40) and Wright in the U-23 women’s 200m final (24.40).
<'Youth Meet Experience- Passing the Baton' - take over NAAATT>
Another late happening event in track and field was the National Association of Athletic Administration (NAAA) election of officers at its annual general meeting (AGM) on November 27 in which George Comissiong was returned as president.
Comissiong got a resounding show of support to lead the sport over the 2021-24 period after his slate defeated the opposing slate being led by Dr Ian Hypolite at the annual general meeting (AGM) and election of officers on November 27.
The theme of the new executive is 'Youth Meet Experience- Passing the Baton'.
They are Paul Voisin, first vice-president, Durly Lucas, the second vice president, assistant general secretary Michelle Stoute, Dexter Voisin retained the post of general secretary and Marlene Roopchansingh, the treasurer.
The five directors are Jehue Gordon, who led T&T to the World Championships 400-metre hurdles crown in 2013, Zwede Hewitt, the 2010 400m national champion, Jamaal James, who dominated at 800m for many years, Cuquie Melville and long-serving administrator Allan Baboolal, who has played a tremendous role in the growth and development of the sport over the years.
Following the election, Comissiong said: "I think the people on the ground were listening to the clubs and what we offered resonated with the people. I see it as an endorsement of the candidates as well as an endorsement of the five pillars we articulated, which is focusing on overall athlete development, enhancing support systems, building on past successes, taking athletics back to the community, creating new products and opportunities."
The athletic boss and his administration are currently working on creating a calendar of events for 2022.
His plan, which is geared towards preparing the leadership of the NAAATT for the future, as his campaign, is themed Youth Meets Experience—Passing The Baton is broken down into five Strategic Pillars. They cover, focusing on overall athlete development, enhancing support systems, building on past successes, taking athletics back to the community, and creating new products and opportunities.
Comissiong said these pillars are also the yardstick against which they wish to be assessed at the end of their term.
And in turn, their success may prevent T&T from repeating the experience of the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan, where T&T ended without a medal, a first since the Barcelona Games in Spain in 1992 that this country had no athletes taking the podium.
Comissiong, who has served 23 years in the administration of the sport, has a long list of managing teams at all levels regionally and internationally and this year’s Olympic assignment was his fourth.
<Covid-19 denies Olympians>
The COVID-19 virus caused a rocky start to T&T’s participation at the Olympics with two athletes and official testing positive for COVID-19 including Anduwuelle Wright, his coach Wendell Williams, a former Olympian and hurdler Sparkle McKnight.
They were immediately put into quarantine which meant Wright, who was making his Olympic debut, did not start in the men’s long jump event and McKnight, a two-time Olympian was unable to line up in the women’s 400m hurdles event, a huge damper for the trio affected and the rest of the 33-athlete contingent.
They were led to Tokyo by celebrated javelin thrower Keshorn Walcott, a two-time Olympic medallist.
This, his third consecutive Olympic Games, did not go as planned and unfortunately, his third Olympic medal did materialise as the Toco-born athlete did not advance out of the qualification round to the final in the men’s javelin event.
Walcott, the 2012 London champion and 2016 Rio bronze medallist was T&T’s best prospect for a medal. However, on August 3, Walcott could not send the spear past the 83.50m automatic mark and was not among the best 12 performers for the final. His best throw came on his third and final throw and it measured 79.33 to finish seventh in Group B and 16th overall among the 30 participants.
<Gittens, Warren compete with pride>
Olympic debutants long jumper Tyra Gittens and shot putter Portious Warren had creditable performances for T&T reaching the final round in their respective events. Gittens, competing at her first Olympic Games, placed 10th with her best leap measuring 6.60m in the women’s long jump.
This after progressing from the qualification round, fifth in Group A with 6.72m to be among the best performers.
Similarly Warren, a late addition to the national team, also reach the finals in her Olympic debut. Competing in group A in the qualification round in the women’s shot put event, she finished fifth with a personal best 18.75m to advance to the final where she placed 11th with an 18.32m-toss.
Jereem “The Dream” Richards reached the men’s 200m final but the 2018 Commonwealth Games 200m champion placed eighth in a time of 20.39 seconds. Kyle Greaux, T&T’s other runner in the 200m, unfortunately, made his exit for a second straight Olympics, in round one with 20.77.
Richards was another late addition to the 4x100m relay team. He along with Deon Lendore, Dwight St Hillaire and Machel Cedenio placed eighth in the men’s 4x400m final clocking 3:00.85.
Lendore, Cedenio and St Hillaire also competed in the 400m at the Toyko Games both none of which progressed to the final. Lendore came the closest to advancing to the medal race as one of the fastest losers up to the second semifinal, until the third and final heat when Isaac Makwala of Botswana placed third with a 44.59-clocking to book the eighth and final spot in the finale.
Racing in the fastest of the three semifinal heats, Lendore running out of lane seven crossed fourth in a time of 44.93.
Cedenio was next in semifinal two and the national 400m record-holder, racing out of lane nine placed sixth in 45.86 seconds and in semifinal three, St Hillaire, who ran out of lane two, placed seventh with a time of 45.58.
<Heartbreak for Ahye>
Sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye just missed out on making the championship race in the women’s 100m dash after she placed third in the second semifinal, clocking a season’s best (sb) time of 11.00 seconds. She found herself out of the final after Great Britain athlete Daryll Neita, who finished fourth in the third semi-final with a similar time 11.00 seconds flat, got the nod for that final eighth position, over the T&T sprinter.
Five-time Olympian Kelly-Ann Baptiste, who was T&T's flagbearer in the Games opening ceremony, bowed out in heat two of round one. She placed sixth with an 11.48-clocking.
The duo was part of the local women's quartet along with Khalifa St Fort and Kai Selvon in the women's 4x100m relay. Competing in lane nine, T&T clocked a season-best 43.62 but unfortunately, the team missed a qualifying spot.
The men’s 4x100m relay team of Kion Benjamin, Eric Harrison, Akanni Hislop and Richard Thompson, running in that order, also produced a season’s best 38.63 seconds but placed sixth in heat one of two and did not progress to the medal race.
Several local athletes experienced disappointment as regional events were postponed or cancelled including the Carifta Games and the Pan American U-20 Athletics Championships.
Most recently, T&T’s track and field combined events team was withdrawn from the NACAC Age Group Championships held in Managua, Nicaragua, which took place this month (December), due to the COVID-19 pandemic.