Home / Volley / Other Sports / Gone in 60 seconds: Nathan Farinha ponders tough Commonwealth lesson, vows to emerge stronger

Gone in 60 seconds: Nathan Farinha ponders tough Commonwealth lesson, vows to emerge stronger

Ever since Nathan Farinha began running track at the age of eight, he’s dreamed of representing the “Red, White and Black” at a major global championship.

His moment of personal glory came two weeks ago when, after 14 years of developing his craft, he joined the ‘big boys’—Marc Burns, Keston Bledman and Emmanuel Callender—for the 4×100 metre relay event in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

Sadly, the 21-year-old sprinter’s euphoria lasted barely a second.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Nathan Farinha (centre) gets going a tad early during the 4x100m relay in the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Overcome with anxiety, the young athlete, who failed to advance from the 200 metre individual heats at the Gold Cup, took off too soon and ran completely out of his zone. He never received the baton from Burns, who had run the second leg, and the quartet—considered genuine medal hopefuls—was disqualified.

“Walking on the track, I was pretty nervous, more than usual,” Farinha told Wired868, “because I knew this one was for the team. It was nerve-racking and my mind was all over the place.”

Farinha, who struggled with injuries as a junior and only ever struck gold in the 2014 Carifta Games 4×400 metre relay event, just stood on the track, close to tears.

“I saw Marc was right up on the Australian guy and I was so anxious, I ended up running too early,” said Farinha. “He was shouting, ‘Twin stop, stop twin!’ I tried to stop but it was too late. Ah lil bit again and I would’ve started crying. It was really hard.”

The moments that followed are etched in his memory and the rising Abilene Wildcats sprinter, who turns 22 next month, is grateful for the emotional generosity of his more senior teammates.

Photo: Veteran Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Emmanuel Callender (left) offers a consoling arm to teammate Nathan Farinha after their 4x100m relay disqualification at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

“Being the youngest and knowing these guys already had a great chemistry and I let them down had me really sad,” he said. “But Marc told me to keep my head up. He was like, ‘Boy, fix yuh face. Throw away that long face.’ He said it was a learning experience and that mistakes happen in track.

“Then Keston held my head and said, ‘Doh worry.’ Keston has always had an impact on my brother and I so I was grateful for his support.

“Emmanuel also gave me a hug and told me the same thing. That made me feel like they all had my back.”

Farinha grew up in Arima with his twin brother, Jonathan, a 200 metre runner, and his passion for track and field grew as he watched YouTube videos of Burns, Trinidad and Tobago’s most seasoned active sprinter and a four-time Olympian.

“I used to watch his races over and over,” said Farinha. “Marc has done phenomenally in track from a junior all the way to the Olympics and has represented his country so well. And just to know he’s still here stepping up when his team needs him is great to see.”

Burns, who debuted on the big stage some 18 years ago at the 2000 Olympic Games, urged Farinha to move on as quickly as possible.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinters (from left) Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender, Richard Thompson and Marc Burns celebrate after winning silver in the 4×100 final during the 2008 Beijing Olympics at the Beijing National Stadium on 22 August 2008.
Jamaica won the Olympic final in a new world record time of 37.10 seconds.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)

“When we walked back, I showed him where he took off from and where he was supposed to run from,” Burns told Wired868. “I told him he’s still young and these are the types of experiences he needs to learn from early. In track, you need to have a short-term memory; you can’t dwell on things. You need to pick yourself up and move on.

“Even [Usain] Bolt false-started in the 2011 Daegu World Championships so it happens to the best.”

Bledman, a two-time Olympian and one of the nation’s most consistent runners, echoed similar sentiments.

“I felt disappointed, not in Nathan, but because I knew our chances of getting to the finals and being on the podium were extremely great,” said Bledman. “However, we are a team and it’s never a blame game. I told him it’s no fault of his because he was nervous and excited. I’ve been there too so I definitely can relate.

“I told him we are moving forward and things will be different the next time around.”

The short preparation time for relay teams has been a touchy topic for some time. Farinha revealed that the 4×100 team did not start preparing until they got to Australia—just one week prior to the competition.

Photo: Lalonde Gordon (centre) collects the baton from Machel Cedenio during the 4x400m relay final at the London 2017 World Championships.
(Copyright AFP 2018)

“We began training about three days after we arrived in Australia because it was hard to adjust to the 14-hour time difference and our bodies needed to adjust,” he said. “Countries like England and Jamaica got there two weeks before so they had more time to adjust and practise. Some athletes were focused on their individual events and some days we tried to squeeze in practice for the relay.

“We only got to really practise for four days but we did the exchanges pretty well. The mood in the camp was really positive and Marc and Keston kept psyching me up and showing me the rundown to keep me relaxed. But I think we can positively benefit from more practice time.”

Burns concurred. Kyle Greaux, who ran the 100 and 200 metre events in Gold Coast, was carded to run the second leg for the relay team. However, because Greaux had been focusing on the individual event and had run the 200m on the previous day, Burns offered to give the younger man’s legs a rest so he would be fresher for the 4x100m finals.

“For as much talent and medal prospects we have, it’s kind of an injustice to the athletes going over that late for meets,” said Burns, “because practice for relays conflicts with practice for individual races and most times people don’t get to recover.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinters (from left) Richard Thompson, Emmanuel Callender and Rondel Sorrillo watch the electronic scoreboard after their disqualification from the 4×100 metre event during the Rio 2106 Olympic Games.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Bledman went further.

“I think this was a learning experience for the male sprinters and relay team,” he said, “to realise that succession and grooming of the younger guys need to be taken more seriously.”

Callender, also a two-time Olympian and reigning 100m national champion, agreed.

“Honestly, knowing fully well we didn’t have much time to practise, I don’t feel upset at all with Nathan,” he said. “Missing out on a medal was [sad] but at the same time, I know moral support was needed. We kept in good spirits even though we knew we had a chance to perform and possibly medal.”

Still, Farinha, is thankful for his experiences—life’s best teachers. He’s vowed to continue honing his skills and has already returned to the track as he works towards qualifying for the 2018 CAC Games in Barranquilla, Colombia.

Off the track, having dropped out of Jamaica’s University of Technology last year to return to Trinidad, the talented sprinter hopes to enrol at the University of the West Indies (The UWI) to further his studies in Business Economics, .

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Nathan Farinha poses for a snap during the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“My parents were paying out of pocket for both me and my brother to go to school and train and it was getting to be too much for them financially,” he said. “So I left and Jonathan stayed. I’m back training in Trinidad now and I’m just focused on being the best I can be and fulfilling my ultimate goal of representing T&T at the Olympic Games one day.

“I know with hard work I can do it.”

About Cherisse Moe

Cherisse Moe
Cherisse Moe is an award winning Trinidadian freelance journalist with 15 years media experience in television, radio and print. Moe is a former senior features reporter at the Trinidad Guardian while she also worked at TTT and WMJX 100.5FM. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree (with Honours) in Marketing Management from Anglia Ruskin University.

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22 comments

  1. Slight correction to info in above article: Based upon my recollection Nathan Farinha failed to advance from the 200m Heats rather than from the 100m Heats at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. I believe it was his twin brother Jonathan Farinha who took part in the 100m Heats while Nathan took part in the 200m Heats.

  2. TTO must code the 4×100 relays!

  3. The old men on the team should have protected Nathan ! This young man needs help to get over ! Seeing that there are no known trials to secure a position on the TTO teams .He must be selected to run the relay again .He should run the first leg ,in this position his responsibility would be minimized ,His head would be set right . Let the old men cabal oil the machine of responsibility . It is time to end the guilt trip for the young man. By the way St.Forte ran out of the box at the PENN Relays this weekend on the anchor leg of the women’s 4×100 meter relay ! No guilt trip applied. No Ahye again !

  4. Chin up Nathan, progress is never a straight line,,,Creditable senior international debut in the 200 meters. More to come…

  5. It was disappointing not to have medaled in an event we usually do but there are lessons for us in being understanding with our youth. We need to encourage them and help them to better successes in the future.

  6. What a brilliant example of camaraderie and team support. Why wouldn’t all involved do everything possible to propel these wonderful talented young men toward their goals.

  7. You guys are great still. More opportunities ahead….. Look forward

  8. Ato has spoken about our lack of preparation and pointed out how teams with lesser sprinters have been known to perform well in the relays because of execution. Common sense that practice makes perfect. IN the absence of common sense simply listening to appreciating what Ato recommended would help. But bashing the messenger is worth so much more than appreciating the message. What does Ato know about sprinting and relays anyhow?

  9. So let’s recap. We have now had relay DQs at: Rio 2016 (x2)
    World Relays 2017
    Commonwealth 2018
    Penn Relays 2018
    and the beat goes on…

  10. I’ve heard it many many times that the T&T athletes don’t get enough time to practice together. And flying to Australia just before a major meet. Madness.

  11. He is a good young sprinter. As everyone has echoed you cannot go to a major games with such a short preparation time. All of the sprinters said the same thing. This falls directly on the NAAA …a lack of foresight…

    • You joking right Lasana Liburd…. the Games pays part of the expenses and the TTOC has funds.
      Not to mention that the NAAA leased an entire aircraft to carry the national team to CARIFTA and they ended up with 50+ empty seats. They leased the aircraft with the intention of picking up other CARICOM teams…. but that was rebuffed. Really smart marketing.

    • Tony, I can’t fathom why they wouldn’t want to get there earlier if there wasn’t an issue with resources. I’m at a loss…

    • Lasana Liburd that is a question for you to follow up on with the NAAA. It is very embarrassing to think that there are people on this Forum who think that the NAAA should be rewarded for sustained failure. And they say to me “Trinis always feel they could do a better job” … The TTOC is not at fault here. The NAAA submits a plan of travel and they go ahead with the plan.

    • If the Jamaican team can arrive with ample time to allow their athletes to acclimatize to Australia’s 14 hour time difference…i really have to wonder why can’t we? 4 days to practice is simply ludicrous.

  12. You live and learn! Dont be too hard on yourself! Next time better!

  13. It was an unfortunate but learning experience for the young athlete, it’s good that the team can positively reflect on the mishap.