A vibrant bunch returned home on Tuesday night from the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) in the Bahamas, with a number of them decorated with medals won at the sixth edition of the event which ended on Sunday.
The young local athletes were the guests of honour at the welcome ceremony held at the VIP Lounge at the Piarco International Airport, in celebration of T&T’s two gold medals, two silver and one bronze won at the games. This represented the country’s largest haul ever won at the games, exceeding the previous best of one bronze won in 2011 in the shot put competition by Hezekiel Romeo in the Isle of Man.
The individual medallists included sprinter Adell Colthrust, swimmer Jeron Thompson and javelin thrower Tyriq Horsford, and the team sports medallists were the girls’ and boys’ beach soccer teams.
T&T’s CYG Chef de Mission Rheeza Grant, a national indoor and outdoor beach volleyball player, was proud of the achievements, not only of those who won medals but of all the athletes.
“They were all amazing,” said Grant yesterday. “It was an excellent experience.”
Seventeen year old Colthrust, the Carifta Under-18 sprint champion, captured T&T’s first ever CYG gold medal when he won the boy’s 100 metres final.
“Adell winning that first medal set the tone for the rest of the competition,” said Grant. “Everybody was elated. That set the pace for everybody.”
Following Colthrust on the podium, was Thompson, who also made history by winning this nation’s first-ever swimming medal at the Games by taking bronze in the 50 metre freestyle. That very night, the girls beach soccer team wrote their names in the history book by becoming the first T&T team sport to win a medal at a multi-sport games. They were soon followed by the boys’ team, who won the silver medal.
“Thompson would have competed in 2015 but did not win any medals,” said Grant. “He worked extremely hard to get this medal, a bronze, and I am proud of him. He is a true athlete.”
Of the girls beach soccer team Grant had only praising words for them for their outstanding achievement.
“I am totally amazed by this team. They were the last team of athletes to be selected,” Grant said. “The association had limited amount of time to select the team and they probably had a month to work toward achieving this gold medal and they did it.
“They had lost to Jamaica in the preliminary round and then to come from behind to beat them is just amazing.”
Horsford grabbed a silver in the boys’ javelin event. He too faced many challenges according to Grant, in his preparation for the event.
She said, “We know the challenge Tobago is facing concerning the ferry so he did not get to travel for training in Trinidad before the Games.”
Grant also praised the managers and coaches for their contributions saying: “They worked together. There were no cliques. They operated like a family,” said Grant. “The young athletes were away from their parents and they needed to know they had support and the managers and coaches did that.”
T&T was 13th on the medals table with England topping with 51 medals (23 gold, 16 silver and 12 bronze), Australia was second with 39 (14, 14, 11) and New Zealand third with 31 (8, 14, 9).
Recently, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief executive David Grevemberg said that he believes there are “strong arguments” in favour of holding the Youth Games every two years instead of four.
It was reported that Grevemberg said at the Bahamas 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games that “robust” discussions into the possibility of staging the event on a biennial basis should begin immediately.