Trinidad and Tobago international swimmer Dylan Carter and cyclist Teniel Campbell, the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee’s (TTOC) Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year respectively, reminisced on the most tumultuous year of their sporting careers—after being toasted by the TTOC at its Annual Awards Gala on 29 December, which was held virtually for the first time.

The Covid-19 pandemic impacted on life across the planet in 2020 and sport was no different.

“2020 provided unique challenges, no doubt,” said the 24-year-old Carter, who finished fourth and set a national record time at the International Swimming League in November. “It’s been a challenging year for all. I took this year in stride and that attributed to my success. I think a lot of work was done earlier this year towards the Olympics, so the results I saw were as a result of just keeping my head in the game throughout the challenging middle of the year.

“I’m feeling very proud and would like to echo the theme of the awards which was resilience.”

Campbell, 23, who won the top female award for the second consecutive year, echoed similar sentiments. The first Trinidad and Tobago female cyclist to ever qualify for an Olympic Games, she was based in Italy for much of 2020 before signing a two-year contract with Australian pro cycling team, Mitchelton-Scott.

“It was a strange year and I am lucky that there was a properly revised racing calendar for my sporting discipline—for some athletes there was not,” said Campbell.“We all deserve to be rewarded for our discipline, determination, tenacity and enthusiasm to keep going during the challenges we each faced this year. Season 2021 is two sleeps away.

“Don’t let anyone or anything dull your sparkle. Let’s look ahead with positivity and keep working hard to achieve all of our goals.”

Trinidad and Tobago President Paula-Mae Weekes praised the nation’s athletes and the TTOC for their performance in the wake of such global chaos.

“The delays, cancellations and all-round uncertainty have no doubt taken a toll on the physical and mental well-being of the athletes,” said Weekes, “who having prepared long and hard for this year’s Games, were left in a quandary on the future of their craft. But the comfort, support and guidance that they desperately need at this time, reside within the halls of the TTOC.”

Former Soca Warriors captain and England Premier League forward Kenwyne Jones gave the feature address, in which he drew on his past experiences as a top flight sportsman. Jones represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2001 Under-17 World Championship and then at the Germany 2006 World Cup tournament.

“Continue to work hard so that you can be ready for the opportunities that are coming your way,” said Jones. “Obstacles are part of the process, but they’re also made to get over.”

Jones’ iconic former St Anthony’s College coach, Nigel ‘Grovy’ Grosvenor, was posthumously awarded the Alexander B Chapman Award. His daughter Qia Grosvenor, collected the trophy on her father’s behalf.

“For over 35 years, he dedicated his time and efforts to advancing the sport of football as a coach and mentor to countless men of the nation,” said Grosvenor (Q). “For many young men, he transcended being a coach and mentor to being a father figure, as he made a valuable impact on their lives. I saw this passion and dedication to the sport from a personal side.

“He would miss family events when they clashed with football matches; there were many times when his players would visit our home just to come for advice from him; and many occasions where parents would call him to speak to their children when they were misbehaving.

“He made a positive impact on many, so much so, that upon his unfortunate death, he was deemed a legend by many persons.”

TTOC president, Brian Lewis, reiterated his organisation’s commitment to the well-being of athletes.

“Our athletes represent the best of us and it is always my view that they should be given the support and resources needed to succeed,” said Lewis. “This year, of course, was a very difficult one for them as we battled Covid-19—which changed life as we knew it. But one of the things sport teaches us is the need to focus on what you can control.

“I encourage our athletes, who I call game-changers, to continue to work hard and stay positive as this too shall pass.”

Full list of 2020 awardees

  • Sportsman of the year – Dylan Carter (Swimming)
  • Sportswoman of the year – Teniel Campbell (Cycling)
  • Future is Female – Samantha Wallace (Netball)
  • Junior Sportsman of the year – Nickolai Blackman (Swimming)
  • Junior Sportswoman of the year & People’s Choice – Abigail Vieira (Skiing)
  • Sports Personality of the year – Dr Felice Aisha Chow (Rowing)
  • Alexander B Chapman Award – Nigel Grosvenor (posthumously) (Football)

Editor’s Note: This article by Cherisse Moe was first published on the TTOC website.