This week's question: what did the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) expect from our athletes at the recently concluded World Athletics Championships in Qatar? I would have thought they anticipated some medals; perhaps not a bagful as in the Pan American Games or the Commonwealth Games but to not get a single medal must be extremely disappointing.
It is the first time since 2007 that we have not medaled at the World Championships but all is not lost as after that tournament, the following year in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics, our men won silver in the 4x100 metres relay which eventually changed to gold following the Jamaican relay team disqualification. We also won silver in the 100m through Richard Thompson.
The men's 4x400m relay promised much and although we produced a season's best time, it was not good enough and we finished a distant fifth as the USA dethroned us as World 4x400m champions. Admittedly, I am concerned for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, though I am hearing from some of the athletes that not winning a medal could be a blessing in disguise. While I would like to believe that statement, I am still concerned as it does not make me feel comfortable or confident. Will we use this Doha experience as motivation to get among medals for Tokyo?
I suppose that sounds nice and it can indeed be used as motivation but how are they going to turn it around? The athletes would have tried their best; they would have given their heart and soul to try to medal for T&T. The women's 4x100 relay placed sixth without Michelle-Lee Ahye; Machel Cedenio placed seventh in the Men's 400m; Kyle Greaux placed eighth in the Men's 200m; fifth place for the Men's 4x400m relay and Keshorn Walcott finished 11th in the Men's javelin final were all as close as we got to a medal.
Walcott seemed to be troubled by an ankle injury so I am hopeful he will do all in his power to rest the ankle which should give him a real chance to medal as I do believe Walcott will do well in Tokyo. There is also talk from the athletes themselves that we need a bigger pool of runners, especially in the relays so that some of them can be rested and have fresh legs when it for the semifinals and final.
The NAAA must inquire as to why we were unable to medal. I expect they would meet with all the athletes and get their opinions as to what can be done going forward but more importantly, what will it take for us to medal in Tokyo?
Another concern is our sprinters. Over the years, we have been able to produce great, competitive sprinters but I see none at the moment who can undoubtedly work their way into the 100m final. Where have they gone? Why can't we produce someone consistently running sub-10.0 seconds? It is the NAAA's responsibility to ensure our athletes are mentally ready for Tokyo and that they are properly prepared in the various disciplines otherwise, I fear that we may have to look at other disciplines to medal in Tokyo. I truly hope I am wrong.
Another disappointing outing on Sunday was our Women Warriors losing to St Kitts and Nevis (SKN). Disappointing is not the word - more like shocked based on the hype before the start of the 2020 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship. I foolishly thought we would top the group and move on to the next round of Olympic qualification. I do not understand what has gone wrong with women's football in the country. Our women footballers came extremely close to qualifying for the 2015 Women's World Cup. Now, we can't even beat SKN who was visibly more organised and worked harder than our women.
Worse was to follow when one newspaper report suggested that the T&T head coach left most of his strong attacking players on the bench and the depth of his squad was thoroughly exposed. What madness did I read? I hope the report was misleading because if true, someone needs to explain to this country why we lost. The 0-0 draw to the Dominican Republic on Tuesday was a nothing encounter as the 10-0 win earlier by the Kittians over Antigua and Barbuda sealed T&T's elimination from the tournament. We have failed to qualify for the final tournament and someone or some people undoubtedly need to be removed.
Finally, the only joy on Sunday was the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) winning the eliminator against, coincidentally enough, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots (SKNP). At last TKR picked the correct team. I thought the team was well-balanced, especially in the bowling department. The Providence pitch encourages spin, so it was good to see they finally included Seekkuge Prasanna who only bowled two overs but did well. It will be interesting if he plays later tonight but let us hope they get the selection of the team against the Barbados Tridents right as it will be a difficult game.
Also, tonight our Soca Warriors take on Honduras in a must-win game in the Caribbean Nations League. Let us hope they worked on their mistakes from the Martinique games or, we face relegation to League B and an uphill task to qualify for the 2021 Gold Cup. Good luck to the TKR and our Soca Warriors! Let's turn out in our numbers to support them both.
Editor's note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not reflect the views of any organisation of which he is a stakeholder.