Finally, Trinidad and Tobago has announced itself yet again to the world at the Beijing 2022 Winter games! The T&T bobsleigh team has just finished competing by being one of 30 teams in the two-man bobsleigh event.
This is not the first time that T&T has sent a delegation to compete at the Winter Olympics. In 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway, T&T made their debut appearance. The delegation at that time consisted of two bobsledders - Gregory Sun and Curtis Harry in the two-man competition and they finished 37th.
At the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan again the two-man team of bobsledders Gregory Sun and Curtis Harry were the flag bearers, and this time, they finished 32nd. In 2002, in Salt Lake City USA, there was a three-man delegation consisting of three bobsledders - Gregory Sun, Andrew McNeilly, and Errol Aguilera. They competed in the 2 man competition and a four-run event in which all three competed and finished in 37th place. There was no Curtis Harry then as he was replaced by McNeilly and Aguilera.
It is now 20 years since the country's last appearance in Salt Lake City to be competing at the Winter Olympics. The final team of Axel Brown and flag-bearer Andre Marcano, who was replaced after the first heat by Skakeel John due to an injury, must have made coach Thomas Harris proud as they finished 28th. There is no doubt that the inspiration of the T&T bobsleigh team came courtesy of the Jamaican bobsleigh team of 1988 and the film 'Cool Runnings'. Foreigners who may have never heard of T&T must be looking up the map to see where the country is located.
Anecdotally, a Canadian friend called to ask how can Trinidad and Tobago possibly be competing at the Winter Games. It matters not that it has taken 20 long years to be competing at these Winter Olympics, and it also matters not how they finish, but to compete and put T&T on the map is what can only be seen as the real sustainable benefit of participation. One would hope that this may very well inspire younger generations to compete at future Winter Olympics with the likes of the present coach Harris doing coaching duties ably assisted by Andre Marcano.
But what about the possibility of competing at other winter Olympic events?
There are a total of 109 medal events across 15 sports. Is ice skating far-fetched? I honestly do not have a clue about the logistics of putting down an ice rink. Could the government or someone from the private sector examine the possibility? I am certain an ice rink will attract youngsters to skate and it may very well be able to sustain itself. In our climate, it may not stand a snowball in hell of a chance to be done but why can't the possibilities be examined with technology as it is today who knows if it can or can't? Just a thought. Congrats again to our bobsleigh team. They have made the country proud and let us hope it has inspired some of our youngsters to take up the sport of bobsledding.
With all that's going on in the world of sport, spare a thought for our Soca Princesses who take to the field later today in a crucial World Cup qualifier against Nicaragua at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. It must also be extremely tough for coach Kenwyne Jones who has had just four days to work with the entire squad ahead of the game. The life of a national coach is difficult as players have club commitments and the clubs only release their players a few days before a national game and together with new players coming into the squad, it is always difficult for the coach to implement a preferred system. This is especially true if he/she decides to use a new system as well as imparting their preferred style of play for the players to be comfortable and perform at optimum level.
I really applaud the move of former Soca Warrior Carlos Edwards being added to the coaching staff. Obviously, he has the same coaching style and philosophy as Jones. Coaches all over the world, even here in Trinidad & Tobago, work in tandem. They think like one and that is why a coach, even moving from one club to another, will bring his trusted lieutenant with him. We see it all the time with leagues all over the world that when a manager is appointed by a club, within a few days he appoints his second in command as he understands his philosophy and what he wants to achieve with the team.
Both Jones and Edwards have played at the international level and at the professional level with some of the most popular leagues in Europe so their experience will help and guide the players through some rough and difficult times. Ultimately, I have no doubt that this dynamic duo can do the job for the team.
The women will also know of their achievements in the world of football and they will trust them and undoubtedly give them 100% on the field. In Jones' short time as head coach, he has done well but the acid test comes now with the world cup qualifiers. I am optimistic he and the team will come through with flying colours.
With the government's policy of 50% capacity for outdoor events, I sincerely hope the football fans will journey down to the Hasely Crawford Stadium to support our Princesses. They need the support as they have a home advantage and the fans of T&T must make that count. Please let us go out and support the team so the country can have something else to celebrate.
Good luck, Soca Princesses. T&T is in your corner!
The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of any organisation of which he is a stakeholder.