Trinidad and Tobago's bronze-medal winning team will be honoured with awards at the inaugural Trinidad and Tobago Relay Carnival, to be run off March 9-10.
And Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed said the relay event will serve as criteria to determine funding for school teams wanting to participate in the internationally-renowned Penn Relays, after which the T&T Relay Carnival is modelled.
The Ministry of Sport and the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) launched the inaugural event yesterday at Hasely Crawford Stadium's VIP Lounge, and will bring together international and regional senior and high school teams hailing from Canada, USA, Suriname, Jamaica, Bahamas, Venezuela and other Caribbean countries along with local teams.
"This Relay Carnival is a prelude to the famous Penn Relays hosted annually since 1895 by the University of Pennsylvania at Franklin Field, Philadelphia," Creed said. "You may be aware that more athletes have run at the Penn Relays than any other single track and field in the world."
Besides the funding factor, Creed said the Ministry and SPORTT decided to support the T&T Relay Carnival, sanctioned by the NAAA, because it can be used to mentally and physically prepare local junior athletes to enter international competitions. Creed said it is also important to develop and cement the relationship between the Ministry of Sport and the Ministry of Education, since the talent pool stems from primary and secondary schools.
Creed said the 1964 Tokyo Olympics 4x400m bronze-medal winning team of Wendell Mottley, Kent Bernard, Edwin Roberts and Edwin Skinner will be recognised at the Games, as well as the 1966 4x400m T&T Commonwealth Games world-record breaking team that also included Dr Lennox Yearwood. That record lasted 11 years. One of the members, US-based Bernard was present at the launch, and though he will return to the US next week, he will return to this country to be honoured.
One of the highlights of the meet will be a workshop hosted by former top West Indies sprinter Dr Cliff Bernard, which will share information and knowledge on how to plan and manage relay events on the day before the start of the Relay Carnival.
A second workshop targeting starters and call back starters will be conducted by T&T-born Canadian resident Lisa Ferdinand, who is IAAF certified.
Former NAAA vice president Jim Clarke, chairman of the organising committee for the Carnival, said that officials did get a lot of interest from neighbouring Caribbean countries, and have already confirmed 20 of 32 teams.