London 2012 Olympic gold medalist Keshorn Walcott, Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) 2015 Sport Personalities of the Year, Machel Cedenio and Cleopatra Borel, Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medalist Richard “Torpedo” Thompson, former World 400 metre hurdles champion Jehue Gordon, veteran swim star George Bovell III and 100 metre and 200 metre NAAA sprint queen Michelle Lee Ahye were among the headliners as the TTOC announced its full 32 member squad for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games this morning at Olympic House in Port of Spain.
It is the largest team in Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic history while there will be a record 11 women vying for Olympic stardom in Rio de Janeiro.
However, there was no Olympic spot for veteran two-time silver medalist and sprinter Marc Burns for the first time since 2000, while three-time Commonwealth Games medalist and shooter Roger Daniel also missed out.
For the athletes who made the grade, the aim is to add to Trinidad and Tobago’s 18-medals at the Olympic Games.
Once more, the 23 year old Walcott is a name to be reckoned with in his field and expectancy will be higher than four years ago when the Toco athlete went to London as an underdog.
Walcott’s best throw for the year thus far was an 86.35 effort in Oslo last month, which would have been good enough for gold in London although still short of his personal best and national record mark of 90.16.
On the track, Cedenio is part of a talented crop of local quarter-milers and he ascended to 400m supremacy last month with an impressive win at the 2016 NAAA National Open Championships.
Cedenio crossed the finish line first at the 2015 competition too but was disqualified due to a lane infringement. Now, the burgeoning runner leads a strong 400 metre relay group which will look to follow-up on its bronze run in London.
Renny Quow, Jarrin Solomon, Jereem Richards, Deon Lendore and London 400 metre bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon will accompany Cedenio on the 4x400m relay team. And, according to TT’s Chef de Mission Dr Ian Hypolite, the local track and field body is yet to decide on its final spot for the individual 400 metre run.
“I don’t know if we can say with clarity that it will be Lendore instead of Solomon,” said Hypolite, “the track and field association has actually submitted four qualifiers which include Jarrin Solomon.
“We are obligated in the NAAAs to include all the qualifiers. On the 25th of July, we will have what we call our DRM meeting where we will confirm our sport entries.”
Like Cedenio, Ahye also struck gold at last month’s National Championships, and the local sprint queen will hope to take her form on to the world stage when she faces the starter’s gun in Rio.
Ahye set a new 200 metre national record with a time of 22.33 last month, and a lot will rest on her shoulders. Although her 29 year old compatriot, Kelly-Ann Baptiste, should not be counted out as she looks to improve on her sixth place finish at the 100 metre event in London.
“I never liked to predict medals in advance,” Hypolite told Wired868. “Medals are determined by many different factors. A lot determined by what is happening right there and at that time, on the track, in the field, in the pool or wherever they are.
“We have great expectations because we have a very strong team. We have a lot of people who have medal potential.”
Although Hypolite may be coy on his medal predictions, the men’s 4x100m relay team have definitely shown their liking for the podium on the big stage.
The quartet of Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callendar and Richard Thompson were recently awarded their silver medals for their exploits at the 2012 Games. And with the core of the relay team still intact, the Trinbago boys will hope to be one of the fastest teams on the track once more.
Hypolite also highlighted the importance of mental readiness on the part of the athletes.
“Yes it is (important) and mental preparation does not happen at the games. Mental preparation takes place well before… And if you are performing well then mental preparation has to be a part of that. But we do have sports psychologist (Dr) Margaret Ottley on board.”
The contingent will jet off to a camp in Sao Paulo which runs from 24 July to 4 August before making the northward trip to Rio for the commencement of the Olympic Games on 5 August.
The 2016 Paralympic Games, which will also be staged in Rio de Janeiro and runs from 7 to 18 September, will feature three Trinidad and Tobago athletes who are sprinter Nyosha Cain, swimmer Shantol Ince and field athlete Akeem Stewart.
Judy Beckles will serve as the chef de mission for the Paralympic team and will be accompanied by Dr Kerry Dollaway (medical), Wade Franklyn (athletics coach) and Karen Araujo (swimming coach).
The following are Trinidad and Tobago’s contingent:
Men: Richard Thompson (100m), Rondell Sorrillo (100m, 200m), Keston Bledman (100m), Kyle Greaux (200m), Machel Cedenio (400m), Lalonde Gordon (400m), Deon Lendore (400m), Mikel Thomas (110m Hurdles), Jehue Gordon (400m Hurdles);
Men’s 4x100m Relay: Richard Thompson, Rondell Sorrillo, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender, Marcus Duncan, Kyle Greaux;
Men’s 4x400m Relay: Machel Cedenio, Lalonde Gordon, Deon Lendore, Jarrin Solomon, Renny Quow, Jereem Richards;
Women: Michelle Lee Ayhe (100m, 200m), Semoy Hackett (100m, 200m), Kelly Ann Baptiste (100m), Reyare Thomas (200m), Janeil Bellille (400m Hurdles), Sparkle Mc Knight (400m Hurdles);
Women’s 4x100m Relay: Michelle Lee Ayhe, Semoy Hackett, Kelly Ann Baptiste, Khalifa St Fort, Reyare Thomas, Kai Selvon;
Keshorn Walcott (Javelin), Cleopatra Borel (Shot Put);
(Track and Field Officials)
George Commissiong (manager), Ian Carter (head coach), Ismael Lopez (mastrapa), Gunness Persad, Nicconnor Alexander, Charles Joseph;
Nigel Paul, Reynold Cox (manager), Floyd Trumpet (coach);
Marisa Dick, Anita Pelletier (coach);
Christopher George (100kg category), Mark Littrean (manager/coach);
Njisane Phillip, David Francis (manager), Elijah Greene (mechanic);
Felice Aisha Chow (Single Scull), Merryl See Tai (manager);
Andrew Lewis (Laser), Kairon Serrette (manager), Bruno Fontes (coach);
Dylan Carter (100m Freestyle), George Bovell III (50m Freestyle), George Bovell II (manager), Roland Shoeman (coach);
Dr Ian Hypolite (chef de Mission), Lovie Santana (administration/assistant chef de Mission);
Dr Terry Ali (CMO), Dr Aanyl Gopeesingh, Dr Tonya Welch, Dr Margaret Ottley, Ian Sharpe.