Remembering Edwin Roberts’ Olympic first

Happy anniversary Trinidad and Tobago.
No, I have not gotten my independence date mixed up. Exactly 50 years ago, Edwin Roberts became the country’s first Olympic medallist in the sport of athletics, claiming bronze in the men’s 200 metres final in 20.6 seconds.
That 200 bronze at the 1964 Games in Tokyo, Japan was also the very first post-independence Olympic medal for T&T. So, to Roberts and all of T&T, a happy golden anniversary.
“I think there was a greater sense of nationalism,” says historian Dr Basil Ince, “because Trinidad and Tobago had just become independent. The real nationalist environment came with Eric Williams, from ’56, moving towards independence. So, by the time we went to the Games, in ’64…people were looking forward to these Games because Trinidad was now a sovereign nation.”
Roberts, a 23-year-old sprinter from Belmont, was selected to represent the “Red, White and Black”, and advanced all the way to the 200 final.
Drawn in lane eight in the championship race, Roberts squared off against seven other sprinters, including Italy’s reigning Olympic champion, Livio Berruti, and Americans Henry Carr, Paul Drayton and Richard Stebbins.
“When I settled into the blocks,” Roberts recalls, “I didn’t feel any burden…I felt expectation. Running in an outside lane, everybody chases you. You can’t see anybody in front of you. So, it’s a mindset, how you have to plot your race. I accelerated, and right at the tape, I                                                         came very close to getting second.
“Paul Drayton, who is deceased now, was very upset that he got second. I said ‘man, you should be glad,’ in my subconscious mind, ‘that you got second, because I was right on your tail’.”
Carr won in an Olympic record time of 20.3 seconds, with Drayton (20.5) second and Roberts (20.6) third.
For the first time in history, the “Red, White and Black” was raised during an Olympic Games medal ceremony.
At the time, however, the significance of the achievement was not uppermost on Roberts’ mind. In the excitement of the moment, it did not dawn on him that he was the country’s first post-independence Olympic medallist.
The North Carolina College student recalls his thoughts as he stood on the podium.
“I did it and I’m happy to get third place, and to see my flag go up into the air…not knowing I was the first. It never did cross my mind. As that flag went up, I was enthusiastic, I was happy, I was proud. I did my job for my country.”
Thirty-two years later, Ato Boldon became only the second T&T athlete to earn an Olympic 200m medal, following in Roberts’ strides with bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
“For me, I looked back and said, okay, I can do this because somebody like an Edwin Roberts did it long before I stepped foot on the track.
“Edwin Roberts was extremely good,” Boldon continues.
“If he had a little bit more exposure in terms of being seen by the T&T viewing public, he would probably be held in much higher esteem than he is. To me, he is one of the most underrated sprinters in Trinidad and Tobago history.”
Roberts lives in Pennsylvania, USA, and has stayed close to athletics through coaching and officiating.
“I got involved in officiating in athletics after I semi-retired,” says Roberts. “I was running Masters and officiating. In the last three years, I started to do starting.
“A lot of people ask me if I miss coaching. I say no. I’m still in the field. I’m still coaching people by talking to them while I’m officiating. Do this, do that, but I’m not their actual coach. I’ll give them advice.”
Roberts is 73, but is young at heart, and has an excellent rapport with the teenagers he interacts with while officiating at track and field meets in Pennsylvania.
The Olympic medallist wants to make a contribution to the development of the sport here in T&T.
Equipped with vast knowledge and incredible people skills, Roberts certainly has what it takes to inspire today’s generation of Olympic aspirants.

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee said a communication mix-up led to the statements from American coach of the Trinidad and Tobago women’s football team Randy Waldrum pleading for assistance Wednesday.

Tim Kee said Waldrum apologised in a written letter yesterday but Tim Kee said the damage was already done in terms of the public outrage and embarrassment to the nation.

But Tim Kee said the social media outburst of the coach was a symptom of some of the malaise at the organisational structure of the TTFA.

At a press conference at the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday, Tim Kee outlined a previous situation where the technical staff, including coach Waldrum, had endorsed the Petrotrin facilities for a training camp for the senior women only for Waldrum to use social media to express his disapproval a few days later.

Tim Kee said Waldrum had issued a letter of apology to Petrotrin and the TTFA then too

“So when I saw that communique from the coach,  I said  ‘oh my God! I  hope it is not same thing that happened before and this letter he (Waldrum) wrote this morning (yesterday)  confirms that,” said Tim Kee

“I am not here to pass blame, but I thought the national community and all who was listening should have an appreciation of the facts.

Tim Kee apologised for the shame and pain caused.

“No amount of excuses or  reasons or  explanations  could erase what happened yesterday (Wednesday)  because of what you call an emotional disturbance,”

But Tim Kee said the players had an excellent training session Wednesday afternoon,  there is no complaint of discomfort  and they are eagerly and excitedly awaiting  the start of the competition on October 15.

Tim Kee advised that the US $500 was indeed given to the players for ground transport and meals with the knowledge that more money was on the way.

The Ministry of Sport yesterday stepped in to issue $250,000 to supplement the team’s preparations.

“He (Waldrum) should have been communicated with, that is something there is no pardon or forgiveness for from the administration, it is unpardonable, so when the coach saw the players and in conversation learnt they only had 300 and made statements, I can’t blame him,” Tim Kee said. “I am not blaming the coach, perhaps before he went there (social media),  he should have called here (TTFA).”

Tim Kee said the breakdown in communication was  a symptom of a bigger problem of governance and structure.

“The governance and structure of the  organisation is faulty,” Tim Kee said, adding that is why he mandated a reform commission headed by Raoul John of KPMG.

He said some of the major reforms to come out of the process would be  one club one  vote and the inclusion of three independent professionals on the executive.

Source

“Be proud of this special group,” Ben Waldrum, stated via Twitter, just before Trinidad and Tobago’s women football team flew off to Chicago from Kansas City. Functioning as T&T’s assistant coach, the son of head-coach Randy Waldrum, made the remarks immediately after T&T held world’s No.1 USA to only one goal, in a one-nil loss on Wednesday night in Kansas City, in their opening match of World Cup qualifying.

Right after the match, the Soca Princesses left for the airport and arrived in Chicago at 2 a.m. (yesterday), before checking in at the Marriot Midway. T&T was due to have its only training session in Chicago at 4.30 p.m. yesterday, before facing Haiti today (6 p.m. T&T time) in an all-important second Group A match.

Trinidad and Tobago’s result against the mighty US constitute something of an upset, considering that the No 1-ranked Americans are unbeaten in 88 matches at home, and have handed down 8-0 whippings to both Russia and Mexico, earlier this year.

The Soca Princesses were defensively well organised and Tobago-born goalkeeper Kamika Forbes put in a heroic performance, keeping T&T in the match with 11 saves. The Americans attacked often, but were stopped by either bunkered T&T defenders, or the outstanding Forbes between the uprights.

Watching on, former T&T goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, tweeted: “A fine Shaka Hislop impression by Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Kimika Forbes.” Despite the loss, the close score very likely puts Trinidad and Tobago in the driver’s seat if second place in the group comes down to goal difference. It also gives them confidence going into today’s all important match against Haiti.

“Everyone came out with that positive mindset. We said we going all or nothing.... everyone is going to give until the can’t give no more,” T&T goalkeeper Forbes said. “I was one of the leaders on the team and they needed me badly. So, I kept positive energy and the team feed off of my positive energy.”

“I must admit this is one of the biggest games I have played and first time against the US national team,” Forbes continued. “This comes like a win to us, against the US, the might giants of Concacaf. It is very positive for us going into the next two games. We had a positive result coming out of this game. The next game we have a different approach, a different game plan. We not going to go with the same game plan that we had for the US.”

Christine Rampone, US national team captain, said: “I think Trinidad and Tobago did an awesome job. The keeper did an excellent job. They disrupted us, we didn’t get into the flow, the tempo, but we had a couple of other games to go. “

“We had scouted them. We knew they were athletic and quick. They got a lot of numbers behind the ball, they played five back which makes it difficult,” continued Rampone, who was not surprised how well the Soca Princesses played.

“I’m not surprised. It actually exciting and encouraging to see that Concacaf is growing. They put on a good performance and (we) only won one nothing. It’s (Concacaf standard) is growing and that a credit to soccer.”

Following is a statement released yesterday by the Minsitry of sport regarding the financial assistance being given to the national women’s football team:
“With regard to the participation of the national senior women’s team in the final round of World Cup 2015 qualification, the official request and accompanying documentation from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) was only received at the office of Minister of Sport, Dr the Honourable Rupert Griffith late Tuesday afternoon at 3.30 p.m. Minister Griffith dispatched copies of the correspondence and supporting documents to officials at the Ministry of Sport and the Sports Company who immediately began the necessary processing to facilitate payments.
Earlier today (Wednesday), TTFA General Secretary Sheldon Phillips received an initial payment of TT$250,000.00 from the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago. The Ministry of Sport and the Sports Company will continue to work with the TTFA in order to expedite the additional payments associated with the team’s World Cup qualification campaign. The total request from the TTFA for the campaign is TT$873,118.67 (US$137,715.88).
The Ministry of Sport and the Sports Company remain committed to providing the necessary support to national athletes and teams but remind National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs) that the timely submission of documentation is critical to facilitate the necessary oversight, protocols and procedures associated with the release of state funds.”

Source

Trinidad and Tobago head coach Randy Waldrum expects this evening’s FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying match against Haiti to be a gruelling encounter. But, he believes this country has what it takes to pull off the result which will keep them alive in their bid to qualify for the next year’s World Cup, to be played in Canada.

T&T women play Haiti from 6 p.m. (T&T time) in Chicago, Illinois, in their second Group A match of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. Third behind Trinidad and Tobago at the Caribbean Championship, held in T&T just over a month ago, Haiti have everything to play for.
Unlikely to get anything out of their final match against the powerful US, and having already beaten the weakest team Guatemala (1-0)on Wednesday night, Haiti will only be in good position to advance out of the group with a positive result against T&T.
Waldrum was quite pleased after T&T’s encouraging 1-0 opening match defeat on Wednesday night to the US, the world’s powerhouse in women’s football. “I’m very proud of my team.  I think they made all of Trinidad and Tobago proud tonight.  I know they made me very proud. I thought defensively we were very tight and organised, and we were able to create a few decent chances off the counter,” Waldrum told TTFA media.
“The players executed the game plan very well. Kimika (Forbes, goalkeeper) was outstanding for us in goal, and Arin King was a rock in the back line.  Maylee (Attin-Johnson, skipper) and Brianna (Ryce) did massive work for us in midfield. And “Yaya” (Kennya Cordner, forward) was always dangerous off the counter. Overall, a very good performance,” he added.
“She was big time tonight,” Waldrum said of his goalkeeper (Kimika Forbes). “She was the player of the game for us. She kept it close and kept us in it. She’s special. She was fantastic. Now we’ve got to regroup and focus on the next match (tonight) which is very important for us and which I expect to be a really

tough encounter as both teams want it badly.”
Abby Wambach, women’s world football’s most prolific goalscorer and scorer of the winning goal for the Americans Wednesday night, said: “It was frustrating. We created a lot of chances but their goalie basically stood on her head this game until the end. We just couldn’t break them down.”
“Credit to Trinidad & Tobago,” said American coach Jill Ellis. “We don’t see teams that often sit as organised and put so many numbers behind the ball. I thought it was an excellent challenge for us. We created a lot of opportunities, but defensively gave up some big mistakes. We should have done a better job finishing.”

The Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) has told National Sport Organizations (NSOs) that the TTOC's fitness standards, criteria and process will not be compromised.

The TTOC communicated its policy and process to all NSOs since last year and way in advance of 2014 Commonwealth and Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC).

Transparency is an important aspect of the TTOC's selection process.

On Saturday 11th October at 9am the TTOC will stage the final Beep Test at the Jean Pierre Indoor facility in Port of Spain.

The TTOC communicated in writing and at meetings since last year the required beep test standards and the dates for the Beep Test.

The TTOC , the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago Elite Development Unit and Michael Johnson Performance Centre has worked together since May this year to ensure that in particular Team Sports and locally based athletes desirous of qualifying and participating at the Commonwealth Games, Youth Olympic Games and Central American and Caribbean( CAC) Games had the sport science based support, advice and programmes to address any shortcomings or deficiencies.

Annette Knott, TTOC secretary general and Chef de Mission for the upcoming CAC Games said the TTOC will not tolerate or accept any attempt by NSOs  to compromise or subvert the fitness and selection policy or process .

"None of the NSOs can say that they don't know what is the policy or standard. Once an event is under the TTOC we stand by our selection process."

The TTOC has to submit the Trinidad and Tobago delegation list to CAC Games officials by Tuesday 14th October  Saturday's test is the final opportunity for athletes and Team Sports to meet the fitness standard.

The TTOC General Council will convene on Friday 10th October at Olympic House to receive and  consider  the recommendations of the Executive Committee in respect of the proposed CAC Games delegation.

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