Thursday, February 22, 2018

Restoring our pride

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Mark Fraser

 TRINIDAD and Tobago’s  proud record of athletic achievements in the international arena looks set to continue based on the results of last weekend’s Carifta Games in Martinique.

While Jamaica again swept the overall title, maintaining its dominance in the region with 88 medals, the T&T squad finished second on the medal table, improving its tally from the 2013 edition by five medals, from 20 to 25.

T&T athletes returned with six gold medals, seven silver and 12 bronze, and these included the honours in a variety of disciplines, along with the traditional track events.

Kevin Roberts won the boys’ octathlon by 438 points, which was described as “a great achievement on his part” by team manager Dexter Voisin.

Powerful Chelsea James took gold in the girls’ under-18 shot put; petite Kayelle Clarke outsprinted her opponents in the under-20 200 metres; and the boys’ under-20 4x400-metre quartet of Asa Guevara, Nathan Farinha, Theon Lewis and Machel Cedenio contributed to Trinidad and Tobago’s outstanding legacy in the relays.

And Shakeil Waithe added to our accomplishments in a fairly-new specialty, garnering the gold in the boys’ under-20 javelin with a throw of 67.53 metres.

The 18-year-old Shakeil from Mary’s Hill in Tobago paid tribute to T&T’s surprise Olympic golden boy Keshorn Walcott, whose world-beating feat in London in 2012 inspired him to top the field in Martinique.

Referring to Keshorn’s triumph, Shakeil said: “It kind of pushed me forward to work harder and make sacrifices that I did not want to make before. I saw what a gold medal could do for the country.”

And the good thing about this young man is that despite winning gold, he was disappointed with his performance, which means he is not resting on his laurels and is willing to try even harder next time.

The national team’s sixth gold medallist was already mentioned above so he takes pride of place with two pieces of precious metal, Machel Cedenio successfully defending his boys’ under-20 400 metres crown, the 18-year-old registering a huge margin of victory in the one-lap final.

“That is the performance that stood out,” manager Voisin told Express athletics correspondent Kwame Laurence, “notwithstanding that we got five more gold medals.”

Machel and his teammates must be congratulated for their Easter exertions, now being emulated by our junior swimmers at the Carifta Championships in Aruba, these youths serving as an inspiration to all boys and girls throughout T&T.

But with Barbados nipping at our heels at the Carifta level, it sounds the need for increased support from the Government and, in turn, the commitment of parents who are willing to sacrifice their leisure time and disposable income on the sporting future of their children, treading the line between schoolwork and recreation, ensuring the former is maintained to the best of the child’s ability.

And then there are the dedicated coaches and officials who nurture these youngsters and guide them on the road to sporting glory.

So while the politicians set us apart, in the wrong way, T&T’s sportsmen and women restore our pride in the nation and we can continue to hold our heads high under the red, white and black.