National athlete Portious Warren's first meet of the season is scheduled for the weekend of February 10-11 but at present, she has a slim chance of throwing the iron ball at her season opener, the Tyson Relays in Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA, as financial support remains non-existent for the T&T shot putter.
Warren made her debut at the virus-delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics which was held last year. The first-time Olympian excelled, advancing out of the qualification round, to reach the final and placed 11th overall. She became only the second woman from T&T to qualify for the Olympic shot put final after "Sportswoman of the Year" Cleopatra Borel in 2012 and 2016.
"I really thought that this year of track and field will be different and it got me excited. Becoming an Olympic finalist really gave me hope that I will get the assistance I need to take my talents to the next level, seeing that I had made it that far with no help. It’s about two weeks before my scheduled first meet and I’m currently unsure on whether or not I will be attending," said Warren, also posting her dismay on her Facebook page on Monday.
"Due to financial reasons, of course, because the assistance I reached out for help right after returning from the Olympics from the Ministry of Sports but my documents are still processing, months after."
Warren, who trains at the University of Alabama, told Guardian Media Sports on Monday that she has been training since her participation at the Tokyo Games under the guidance of coach Derek Yush.
"I am currently based in Alabama and train at my Alma Mater. I train Monday to Sunday differentiating between gym days and actually throwing days. On meet weeks and down weeks it's a bit different."
She has provided this information on her Elite Athlete Assistance Programme (EAAP) quarterly tracking programme along with all other necessary information to the ministry via emails and through her local manager, John Andalcio, who has also been in communication with a representative of the Sports Ministry.
"My local manager Andalcio has been liaising and emailing them about the importance of me receiving funding," said Warren, adding that the funding is necessary to cover training expenses, therapy, living expenses, bills and training costs etc as mentioned in her emails that she said she has sent to the ministry.
Andalcio, according to Warren, has been enquiring when the Olympic shot putter will be able to access the requested funding to train for upcoming events such as the World Championships and Commonwealth Games.
In Andalcio's most recent email (seen by Guardian Media Sports), on December 31, to the Ministry, he informed them that: "Portious is in urgent need of the Elite Assistance." And asked when will it be received? The response came on January 10 and just as previously, it was the same: "Warren's application is still being processed at this time."
And if there's any further update on the application, her local manager will be notified.
However, frustration has started to set in and Warren fears her goals of, not just reaching the next two Olympic Games, Paris 2024 in France and Los Angeles in 2028 California, USA, but competing for a medal at both editions, will not materialise.
"I was eager to represent my country T&T for at-least two more Olympics with the potential to land on the podium one of those times. However with the financial difficulties and lack of support Paris just might be my last," said Warren, who in turn asked: “How much longer do athletes have to suffer to receive help?
"I’m sick and tired of the propaganda and back and forth. I was told I didn’t reach out for help prior but I did now, but what difference does it make? When I’m faced with the same fate as a silent mouth. Can someone make it, make sense?
She added frustratingly: "We are supposed to be protecting our ambassadors and investing in them. I just hope that the younger generation coming up doesn’t have to face the same hardship or difficulties so that they can live up to their true potential."
Warren has a packed schedule this season ahead once she gets the financial support through the Elite Assistance of even corporate sponsors, starting with the Tyson Relays; the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in March; Florida Relays and Louisiana State University (LSU) Relays, both in April; the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Games in Nassau, Bahamas in May; then back in T&T for the Senior National Championships (June); World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, USA (July); and in August, both the Commonwealth Games in England and the NACAC Senior Championships (Bahamas).