When T&T’s team touch down in Brazil for next month’s Olympic Games, the delegation will be the largest ever from this country, to participate at the biggest sporting event in the world.
T&T’s contingent heading to Rio de Janiero, will include 25 returning Olympians and eight newcomers, announced by the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) yesterday at Olympic House, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain.
Experienced Dr Ian Hypolite, who is the chef de mission, named the list of 32 athletes, 21 men and 11 women from eight disciplines, which narrowly eclipses the London Games’ 30 athletes (21 men and nine women) in six sports.
“This is the largest number of female athletes we have ever had going to an Olympic Games,” said Hypolite. “We are aware of the impact that the performance of the T&T team had on the national community in 2012. We are very eager to reproduce that same type of atmosphere come Rio 2016.”
Keshorn Walcott will be back again to defend his title in the men’s javelin event. He shocked the world four years ago in London in winning the event, which was previously dominated by the Europeans. Walcott became the second Olympic gold medal winner in T&T’s Olympic Games history, after Hasely Crawford, the 1976 Montreal Games 100-metre final gold medallist.
George Bovell III will compete in a record fifth Olympiad. Bovell represented T&T at the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics. At the 2004 edition, he won a bronze medal in the men’s 200 individual medley (IM). It was also the first-ever Olympic swimming medal for T&T and its only medal from the 2004 Olympics.
Bovell returns to Olympic pool to again compete in the 50m freestyle, a race in which he made it to the final in London where he placed seventh in the fastest field ever assembled.
Track and field, as usual, accounts for the largest number of athletes on the squad with 24 entries—four of whom will be making their Olympic debut. The newcomers are Kyle Greaux, Marcus Duncan, Jereem Richards and Khalifa St Fort.
Returning as well are Olympic silver medallists Richard Thompson and Keston Bledman, both of whom will line up in the men’s 100m, while Rondel Sorrillo, another returning Olympian, has been selected for both the 100m and 200m.
Olympic bronze medallists Lalonde Gordon, Deon Lendore and Jarrin Solomon are also back to take on the top quartermilers in the world.
Other leading names on the track and field team include 2013 world 400m hurdles and former world junior champions Jehue Gordon, former world junior 400m champion Machel Cedenio, quartermiler Renny Quow and hurdler Mikel Thomas.
Five-time Sportswoman of the Year shot put specialist Cleopatra Borel leads the women, making her fourth appearance at the Olympics.
Michelle Lee Ahye and Semoy Hackett have been selected for both the 100m and 200m and will make up an essential part of the women’s 4x100m relay team which include Kelly-Ann Baptiste, St Fort, Reyare Thomas and Kai Selvon. Baptiste is back for her third run at the Games while Ahye, Hackett, Selvon and Thomas are making their second trip.
“It’s the most ever women. Part of my target when I became president was that we have more women competing, team sport and maybe having a team of 40 to 50 in terms of athletes at the Olympics. We didn’t make that so for me we still have more work to do,” said TTOC president Brian Lewis.
“The TTOC has receive great support from the patron, the president Anthony Carmona, the Minister of Sport, the chief justice, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in not just being involved in what we are trying to do but they all have been encouraging, the Sport Company also,” said Lewis, also thanked the sponsors. They are Flow, bptt, Guardian Group, Scotiabank, Toyota, National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), Press Play Jukebox, Adidas and The Fan Club.
T&T will also be represented in gymnastics following the historic qualification of Marisa Dick, who will become the country’s first Olympic gymnast. Similarly in judo with Christopher George competing and Felice Aisha Chow in rowing. Familiar faces returning are Njisane Phillip in cycling and Andrew Lewis in sailing.
The pre game camp will be held in Braganca, which is in the state of Sao Paolo.
President of the Paralympic committee, Sudhir Ramessar, was present to also announce the members of the team that will be representing T&T at the Paralympics in Brazil from September 7-18, confidently predicting success.
He said: “The Paralympic team would be coming back home with multiple medals.”
Olympic Games (August 5-21)
Richard Thompson (100m, 4x100) Rondel Sorrillo (100m, 200m, 4x100), Keston Bledman (100m, 4x100), Emmanuel Callender (4x100), Kyle Greaux (200m, 4x100), Marcus Duncan (4x100), Mikel Thomas (110m hurdles), Jehue Gordon (400m hurdles), Machel Cedenio (400m, 4x400), Lalonde Gordon (400m, 4x400), Deon Lendore (400m, 4x400), Jarrin Solomon (4x400), Renny Quow (4x400), Jereem Richards (4x400), Keshorn Walcott (javelin)
Michelle Lee Ahye (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Semoy Hackett (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Kelly Ann Baptiste (100m, 4x100m), Reyare Thomas (200m, 4x100m), Kai Selvon (4x100m), Khalifa St Fort (4x100m), Janeil Bellille (400m hurdles), Sparkle McKnight (400m hurdles), Cleopatra Borel (shot put)
Officials: George Commissiong (manager), Ian Carter (head coach), Ishmael Lopez-Mastrapa (coach), Gunness Persad, NicConnor Alexander, Charles Joseph
Officials: Reynold Cox (manager), Floyd Trumpet (coach)
Officials: David Francis (manager), Elisha Greene (Mechanic)
Official: Anita Pelletier (coach)
Christopher George (100kg category)
Official: Mark Littrean (manager/coach)
Felice Aisha Chow (single scull)
Official: Merryl See Tai (manager)
Andrew Lewis (laser)
Officials: Kairon Serrette (manager), Bruno Fontes (coach)
George Bovell III (50m freestyle)
Dylan Carter (100m freestyle)
Officials: George Bovell II (manager), Roland Schoeman (coach)
Dr Ian Hypolite (chef de mission)
Lovie Santana (Administration)
Dr Terry Ali (Chief Medical Officer), Dr Anyl Gopeesingh, Dr Tonya Welch, Dr Margaret Ottley, Ian Sharpe, Zephyrinus Nicholas, Brent Elder, Nicole Fuentes, Alexander Gibbons, Verne Alleyne, Abdel Muriada.
Nyocshia Cain (T44 100, 200)
Akeem Stewart (F43 Javelin, Discus)
Shantol Ince (Swimmer).