T&T placed eighth in the men’s 4x400 metres relay final at the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan on Saturday morning (T&T time).
Deon Lendore, Jereem "The Dream" Richards, Dwight St Hillaire and Machel Cedenio, running in that order, clocked three minutes and 00.85 seconds to finish eighth, unfortunately, in the final event to bring the curtain down on the athletics programme, meaning T&T exited without a medal across all track and field events at the virus-delayed Tokyo Olympics.
T&T entered with a revised race plan from round one when the local quartet, running in the order of Lendore, Richards, Cedenio, St Hillaire, placed third with a season's best time of 2:58.33, a season's best behind Americans Trevor Stewart, Randolph Ross, Bryce Deadmon and Vernon Norwood, who also ran a season-best 2:57.77 to win the first of two heats with Botswana's Isaac Makwala, Baboloki Thebe, Zibane Ngozi and Bayapo Ndori, in an African record of 2:58.33 in second.
The local 4x400m team, which advanced with fourth-fastest time of the qualifying heats, switched the third and fourth legs from the round one heats, with St Hillaire, running the third leg seemed to have felt something on the backstretch and faded to the last place, ending T&T's chance at reaching the medal podium.
"Dwight would have felt a twinge around the 300-metre mark and those looking at the race would have seen him hobble a bit. He slowed somewhat but was able to finish his leg," team manager George Comissiong told Guardian Media Sports on Saturday, following the medal race. "He is currently having dinner and would be attended to by Dr Anyl Gopeesingh immediately thereafter. We await the diagnosis."
Comissiong added: "The team has taken the incident in stride and rather than criticise the relay team have been very supportive. I am extremely pleased with the team spirit demonstrated."
These Games make it the 12th time in Olympic history that T&T track and field did not had an athlete on the medal podium. This is similar to 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992 and 2004. Despite that the discipline has won 15 of the 19 medals that won in the 17th Olympic Games appearances.
Racing to the gold medal was the United States with a relatively entire new team which included Deadmon, the lone runner from the first round, Michael Cherry, Michael Norman and Rai Benjamin with a season's best time of 2:55.70, which was just shy of the Olympic record of 2:55:39, set by the USA in 2008 Beijing in China.
It was the Americans first men's track gold medal. They were followed to the line by the Netherlands quartet of Liemarvin Bonevacia, Terrence Agard, Tony van Diepen and Ramsey Angela with a national record of 2:57.18 for the silver medal, narrowly ahead of Botswana (Makwala, Thebe, Ngozi and Ndori), who bettered their own African record with 2:57.27, for the bronze.
Running in lane eight, Lendore was again quick out the blocks and had an excellent second bend run to come into the first changeover in the third place to Richards, who was narrowly behind Makwalam who came through first ahead of Cherry.
Richards, the 200m Olympic finalists got out fast and when the runners headed to the inside line, he led most of the second leg until coming down the straightway when he came under pressure and faded, handing over the baton fifth to St Hillaire, T&T's other 400m semifinalist.
St Hillaire sped off knowing he had some work to do to catch up to the leaders. However, he began to hobble at 300m out and dropped to last place but he did not stop and managed to get the baton around the track, limpingly to Cedenio, another T&T 400m semifinalist.
Cedenio never had a chance and could only watch the rest of the field pull away to finish ahead of him and his team, which also included relay members Asa Guevara and Che Lara, who were also in Tokyo.
Richards was a late addition to the squad. The 2018 Commonwealth 200m men’s champion was already on the team and represented T&T in the half-lap event. He became the sixth member of the 4x400m relay squad after the National Association of Athletics Administrations of T&T (NAAATT) received permission to add another runner.
It was a disappointing end for the 4x400m men, who are the 2019 World Relays (Yokohama) and 2017 World Championships (London) champions, at the Olympics again, not bringing home a medal. In 2016 at the Rio de Janeiro Games in Brazil, T&T's relay team of Lendore, Cedenio, Jarrin Solomon and Lalonde Gordon, was disqualified for a lane infringement in the first round heats.
Paul, Browne still hunting medals in keirin event
T&T's cycling duo Nicholas Paul and Kwesi Browne are into the quarter-finals in the men's keirin event as they continue to chase T&T first medals at the Tokyo Olympics.
In the first round early Saturday morning (T&T time) at the Izu Velodrome, Paul, the world record-holder in the Flying Start, progressed after occupying the second spot in heat three behind Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia in the six-lap event to be the two automatic qualifiers for the next round. The first two riders qualify for the quarter-finals while the remaining riders all other riders advance to the repechage.
Browne was one of those riders advancing to the repechage from heat one in round one after finishing third for a second chance at reaching the quarterfinals. Winner Rayan Helal of France and second-place finisher German Maximilan Levy were the auto-qualifiers. Defending champion and favourite in the event Great Britain Jason Kenny also featured in the heat and he placed fourth, also qualifying for the repechage.
The T&T cyclist made full use of his second chance, winning repechage heat one and was joined in the next round by Muhammad Shah Firdaus (MSF) Sahrom, who crossed second. Kenny won heat two and advanced along with Stefan Botticher of Germany.
In the quarter-final round, 2019 Pan American Games men's sprint champion, Paul, who is also the sixth-place finisher in the Olympic men's sprint, will face the starter in heat two on Saturday night at 9.29 pm (T&T time) against Levy, Sahrom, Jack Carlin (Great Britain), Callum Saunders (New Zealand) and Jair Tjon En Fa (Suriname).
Browne will follow in heat three at 9.34 pm against a tough field which includes Awang, Botticher, Matthew Glaetzer (Australia), Yuta Wakimoto (Japan) and Denis Dmitriev (ROC).
Kenny will race in heat one from 9.24 pm. The heat also includes Helal, Matthew Richardson (Australia), Yudai Nitta (Japan), Harrie Lavreysen and Colombian Kevin Quintero, the 2019 Pan American Kerin gold medallist.
The first four riders in each quarter-final heat qualify for the semifinals later Saturday from 10.09 pm (T&T time). The final is scheduled for 12 midnight.