Monday, December 18, 2017

Track and Field: T&T's biggest medal winners

This is as a good an occasion as any for a stock-taking of Trinidad and Tobago's participation in Olympic sport. The wheel has come full circle from London 1934, when we first entered a big-time sporting competition at the Commonwealth Games, to London 2012, when we competed at the Olympic Games. Count that period as our 75th anniversary in major Olympic sport. In addition, the country celebrated the 50th anniversary of our independence last year. Finally, all the end of the year "Sportsman of the Year" celebrations have come to an end.

The nation has participated in the four major international meets, the Olympics, the World Championships, and the Commonwealth and Pan American Games which I have labelled elsewhere as the Big Four.

During the period in question, our athletes have performed in the following disciplines: badminton, boxing, cycling, football, hockey, netball, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, track and field, weightlifting, and yachting. All are Olympic sports, netball acquiring such status in 1995 although it has not been played at the Olympic Games.

Our netballers have participated at the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games. Taekwondo became a full medal Olympic sport in 2000. All the other disciplines have been around for some time.

The results for the Big Four for the period 1934-2012 follow: The brackets contain the number of medals won. Since three Trinbagonians were on the 1959 Pan Am Games 400m relay team and one on the 1,600m team, I have counted them together as one medal.

Additionally, in order to arrive at the 100% total for all the sports, I took the liberty to round off the percentages of each sport without doing damage to its place in the tables.

The performances by track and field athletes top those in other disciplines, especially in two of the high calibre meets, the Olympics and the World Championships.

Track and field comes closest to world-class level of competition than any other sport and some would say surpasses one and challenges the other of our more popular sports. I refer to football and cricket.

In fact, at the regional level a respected political commentator expressed the view that the performances of Caribbean Olympians have been the bright spot in an otherwise gloomy political and economic picture for the region in 2012. Interestingly, although comatose since the mid 1960s, weightlifting leads all other disciplines in Olympic medals. Everything should be done to resuscitate this sport.

The faces to the statistics are: Olympic gold winners Hasely Crawford and Keshorn Walcott

Olympic medallists: Ato Boldon, George Bovell 111, Hasely Crawford, Lalonde Gordon, Lennox Kilgour, Wendell Mottley, Edwin Roberts, Richard Thompson, Keshorn Walcott, Rodney Wilkes.

400m relay team 2008 (Bledman, Burns, Callender, Thompson); 2012 ( Bledman, Burns, Callender, Thompson)

1600m relay team 1964 (Skinner, Bernard, Roberts, Mottley); 2012 Gordon, Solomon, Alleyne-Forte, Lendore

World Championships medallists: Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Ato Boldon, Darrel Brown, Roger Gibbon, Joanne Lucas, Rennie Quow 400m relay team, 2001 (Burns, Bolden, Harper, Brown); 2005 (Pierre, Burns, Harper, Brown) 2009 (Brown, Burns, Callender, Thompson), 2011 (Bledman, Burns, Armstrong, Thompson)

T&T Games medals table

Olympic Games

Track and Field (14) 77%, including two gold.

Weightlifting (3) 17%,

Swimming (1) 6%

Total 18

World Championships

Track and Field (8) 67% including one gold.

Netball (3) 25%

Cycling (1) 8%

Total 12

Commonwealth Games

Track and Field (19) 53%

Weightlifting (6) 17%

Cycling (6) 17%

Boxing (2) 5%

Shooting (2) 5%

Taekwondo (1) 3%

Total 36

Pan American Games

Track and Field (18) 41%

Cycling (11) 25%

Swimming (6) 14%

Weightlifting (3) 6%

Boxing (2) 5%

Taekwondo (2) 5%

Hockey (1) 2%

Football (1) 2%

Total 44