A few fans stopped me to ask what I thought about the West Indies' performance so far in the series against India in both the T20's and the ODIs. So, I said, “I don't think.” and walked away. I figured that that was a good enough reply. Then, 2 days ago, someone saw me and said that he had just seen an article coming out of Jamaica alluding to the belief that Chris Gayle was as great as Brian Lara. My first reaction was to say to the gentleman, “There is just no comparison in terms of batsmanship but maybe, in terms of figures.”
Away from the cricket, let's write about something a bit more positive and uplifting like the great performances of our athletes in the just concluded Pan Am Games in Peru. It is always good when you can predict the outcome of an event or a series of games etc and I am sure you will recall that when I previewed the games a few weeks ago, I envisaged that the T&T contingent would come home with our highest medal haul in the history of the games. We copped 13 medals in total, five more than our previous best of eight in Toronto, Canada at the 2015 Games.
Pride and place have to go cycling. Again, I indicated that we were certainly going to medal in cycling but, how great was the performance of double gold medallist, Nicholas Paul? Here is a young man in his early 20's who appears to be getting better and better, has a heart as big as the Atlantic Ocean and is the type of individual who can easily illuminate the dark and murky world. I have also been following the talented and rangy female cyclist, Teneil Campbell, since she burst on the scene and seems determined to go where no other woman cyclist has dared to venture before. What a wonderful and dedicated young woman who seems to relish the road and one can only wish her continued success as she essentially takes on the world by herself.
Njisane Phillip was his usual professional self but seems unable to get the best of Paul in the individual sprints. However, when he teams up with Paul and Keron Bramble in the men's team sprint, they appear to be unbeatable. Make no mistake, we will see their true ability when the Olympics come around next year.
In athletics Michelle-Lee Ahye, Jereem Richards and Keshorn Walcott were expected to medal but for me, I thought both Walcott and Richards would have won gold; but it goes to show how tough these games were. In Ahye's case, how is she going to beat Elaine Thompson? The Jamaican has phenomenal speed. Not being an athletics coach, I tried to analyse Thompson's weak point. It seems that her start is slow so if Ahye can get a great start and run as if her life depended on it, who knows what can happen? Am I simplifying it and being naive or is it possible?
Our 4x400 metres men won bronze but somehow Machel Cedenio wasn't at his best as he just faded in the last 30 metres of the relay. Normally, he would be finishing like a freight train but unfortunately, he looked more like a toy train with the batteries fading fast. No doubt he will be back fitter, stronger and ready to represent the red, white and black.
Dylan Carter, as I thought, would win a medal in the pool. He continues to pave the way for some of our younger swimmers to understand that with some hard work and the right frame of mind, we can do well at swimming in various games.
One of the surprises at the games was Michael Alexander winning bronze in the men's welterweight division but as was explained to me, Alexander needed these games to get a sense of where he is and for him to improve. He now needs to get access to top-class sparring, so let's hope the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) can get him an opportunity where he can receive quality world-class training.
The other surprise was the 4x100m men's relay team winning silver. Based on the individual sprints, I thought the team would have no chance but how Jerod Elcock, Keston Bledman, Akanni Hislop and Kyle Greaux proved me wrong. Well done guys! I am hoping that when 2020 rolls around, we can produce some world-class sprinters. At the moment, I am not seeing a Crawford, Boldon or Thompson on the horizon.
But the biggest eye-opener for me was Felice Chow in rowing, wow! Silver in the women's single sculls final; how great an effort that was. Hopefully, she is another who can build on that.
So, where does that leave our athletes? I was elated to read where Brian Lewis, the President of the TTOC, says that the performance was encouraging. He obviously did not go overboard and as I alluded previously, it gives us an indicator of what is needed for Tokyo 2020.
I am 1200% certain the TTOC will give the T&T athletes the support going forward to surpass our expectations of them. It is my sincerest wish the Ministry of Sports, along with the various sporting bodies organise themselves early to give the athletes the preparation that is needed for the 2020 games. There is no excuse not to have our athletes well-prepared for the Olympics as we all know the competitive level is much higher than the Pan Am games.
Let us begin the preparation now so that our athletes can bring more glory in these troubled times of crime and complete lawlessness in T&T. The Summer Olympics - Tokyo 2020 is just 344 days away.
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.