President of the National Association of Athletic Administration Ephraim Serrette hopes that T&T’s performance at the recently concluded Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada will be a stepping stone for bigger things to come. T&T’s squad bagged eight medals at the meet, a national record, including six in track and field to rank 15th out of 29 countries overall.
Looking ahead to next month’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing and further down the road to the Olympics in Rio next year, Serrette said the country’s athletes were showing a lot of promise. “It was an exceptional performance,” he said. “The athletes did us proud and it augers well for the future.”
The track and field athletes won three gold medals (Kershorn Walcott (Javelin), Cleopatra Borel (Shot Put) and the 4x400 metres relay quartet of Machel Cedenio, Jarrin Solomon, Renny Quow and Lalonde Gordon. Mikel Thomas (110 Hurdles) and Machel Cedenio (400m) won silver. However, he noted that a different standard of competition would await them in Beijing.
“The Pam Am Games are something of a dress rehearsal for the World Championships, but we have to remember that the Americans and Jamaicans sent second and third string teams. They were still strong but a lot of big names were missing. It served as good preparation but our athletes who medalled will now have to turn up a gear to succeed on the world stage.”
Serrette commended the T&T Olympic Committee for recently launching its medal incentive programme, which he felt had had its desired effect. “I can’t say exactly how much it influenced the athletes but it was a good gesture by the TTOC,” he said. He added that he hoped to see improvement from the Women’s 4x100m team, which did not complete its semifinal in Toronto.
“I hope they will go back to drawing board,” he said. “We had high expectations from them after they won bronze at the IAAF World Relays in May. Now with Kelly Ann (Baptiste) and Semoy (Hackett) back on the team, they should be a very strong unit.”