The Trinidad and Tobago men’s 4×400 team, sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye and Paralympian Akeem Stewart were the big winners on Friday as the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) held its 23rd Annual Awards Gala at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain.
In a break with tradition, the relay team of Jarrin Solomon, Jereem Richards, Machel Cedenio, Lalonde Gordon and Renny Quow, who won the London 2017 IAAF World Championships Men’s 4×400 relay in a time of 2:58:12, received the Sportsman of the Year title—-just two months after being named the “Best Male Athlete of the Year” by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).
Richards, the 2017 World Championships 200-metre bronze medallist, did enjoy some individual glory, though, as the public voted him as the People’s Choice Award winner.
For Ahye, it was her second consecutive Sportswoman of the Year award after another commendable season, which included a sixth-place finish in the 100-metre World Championships final and a personal best of 10.82 seconds en route to the national title.
It was a third straight Sports Personality of the Year award for Stewart, who was a double gold medallist at the London 2017 World Para-Athletics Championships after winning the F44 Javelin and Shot Put competitions
In the process, Stewart smashed the old shot put record of 14.21 metres with a new mark of 19.04 metres.
The other winners on the night were young sprinters Adell Colthrust and Khalifa St Fort, West Indies wicketkeeper Merissa Aguilleira and youth football coach Anthony “Dada” Wickham.
Colthrust, an under-18 competitor, was named the Junior Sportsman of the Year after securing 100-metre titles in the 2017 CARIFTA and Commonwealth Youth Games while St Fort snagged the Junior Sportswoman of the Year accolade following her CARIFTA sprint double.
Aguilleira, who is also the Trinidad and Tobago cricket captain, was the first ever recipient of the Future is Female Award—which is meant to recognise outstanding commitment to the encouragement, development and motivation of women in sport by an individual, team or organisation.
“Dada” Wickham, the veteran Trendsetter Hawks coach, was awarded the Alexander B Chapman Award for his support for youth and community development through football and his work with marginalised communities in Trinidad and Tobago, which stretches back to 1978.
The award is named after Alexander B Chapman, who is an honorary life vice-president of the Central American and Caribbean Sports Organisation (CACSO) and Commonwealth Games Federation and an honorary life member of the TTOC.
Wickham’s former pupils include World Cup 2006 midfielder Densill Theobald and current Soca Warriors Mekeil Williams and Jomal Williams. In 2018, he hopes to launch new careers when the Hawks debut at the Mediterranean International Cup (MIC) in Spain alongside illustrious clubs like FC Barcelona, Olympique Lyonnais, Manchester United and Liverpool.
Past players of the youth tournament include Argentine sensation Lionel Messi, Brazilian stars Neymar and Coutinho, Spanish stand-outs Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets, Mexican brothers Jonathan and Giovani Dos Santos, Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly and England and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford.
Hawks will carry teams for the Under-12, Under-14 and Under-16 categories.
“Some of the bigger named clubs in the world will be playing there like Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid,” Wickham told the TTOC. “It is an opportunity for the kids to at least showcase themselves, so that maybe, who knows? Let’s say if one player could get an opportunity to make it out, that would be great!”
Wickham expressed pride at receiving the Chapman Award, which recognises outstanding contribution to Sport and Olympism—-defined as the use of sport as “human development” with a “view to encouraging the establishment of a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”
Trendsetter Hawks recruit players from East Port of Spain and, in particular, the Sea Lots, Beetham Estate, Duncan Street and the Nelson Street areas.
“This award really means a lot to me because I have been in the vineyard for about 37 years, coaching youth in the East Port-of-Spain area,” said Wickham. “We know, of course, of the situation that is taking place in East Port-of-Spain. We have a lot of children who are going astray, who are getting involved in gang activities.
“Our organisation—-Trendsetter Hawks Football Academy—-is there to try to help. If we could at least get to two out of every ten, we can save some lives in East Port-of-Spain.”