Oh what a night! Opening night of the 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia was fantastic for many reasons, not least because the local contingent was able to show off the uniquely flavoured T&T culture.
Sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye was a welcomed sight with the national flag on Wednesday night in Queensland, (the fifth time Australia has hosted these games) as she walked proudly on the opening stage in front of over 25,000 fans.
It was the Carnival costumes worn by three of this country’s athletes Tonya Nero (Marathon), Ayanna Alexander (Triple Jumper) and Naim Mohammed (Badminton) that stirred the crowd and left many in awe as the masqueraders paraded to several flashes of cameras on the night.
Chef de Mission Dianne Henderson, who was the assistant Chef at the previous Commonwealth Games in Scotland, told Guardian Media: “I decided that we needed to do something different this time around, and while we had Peter Minshall costumes in the past on sporting stages, this time I made contact with a committee Member of Tribe Band and they gave us three costumes, which we were very grateful for, and we believe that the world would have been amazed by our designs and Tribe’s great assistance will certainly again enhance our Carnival.
“In fact, next time around, we might have the entire team in costume, who knows but we need to always express our culture and diversity while not losing sight of our unique style as well.”
President of the T&T Olympic Committee, Brian Lewis said, “It was very pleasing and we have to thank Tribe for donating the costumes and for us to have our athletes as cultural ambassadors, is what we want the world to understand and appreciate when we are on the world stage.
“Once we win a gold medal that the national anthem will be played via the steel pan version, we are finalising that so hopefully this will happen here at these games,” said a hopeful Lewis.
“The team has settled in nicely, there is a lot to get done, but I can only say that both the accommodation and transportation have been more than adequate so far, and the mood in the camp is very upbeat and eager to succeed,” said Henderson.
As to Ahye’s selection, “It was what we believed was richly deserved given her service to this country in the past and the fact that she continues to show her love for country by always being there as much as she can. She was very proud to have this honour and it lets her know just how much people recognise her contribution.
“As a team, there is a good feeling around and it seems to me that a lot of the athletes here are in a good place, they all appear to have the drive and desire to succeed in them as well.”
Interestingly, this will be the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever put together, with reported spending estimated to finish at around US$1.5 billion. It will be the first time that women have the same number of events as men and the most para-events incorporated with 38 in total.
Henderson was pleased about the growth of women sports saying: “It is great for this to happen here, as slowly over time, we are witnessing the progress of women in all areas in the world and in sports it should not be any different and our team is well represented in this way as well.”
In action today are Swimmer Dylan Carter, who returns to the Aquatic Centre in Men’s 200 metres freestyle. He was to race last night in the 50m butterfly.
In table tennis T&T will compete in the Team Event against Northern Ireland while in cycling (Track), the Men’s Keirin starts for T&T.
In boxing, Nigel Paul received a bye in the Men’s 91kg division and will advance to quarterfinal on April 10 against India’s Satish Kumar.