At the age of 18, Shaquille Roberts has created history as the first Trinidadian and the first in the Caribbean to bear the Olympic torch in London.

Roberts, a student of Toco Secondary School and an athlete, will run a mile with the torch on June 28.

In an interview at his school yesterday Roberts said he was nervous, but excited. In addition he noted that running a mile was like warming up. Roberts was not ashamed to admit that as soon as he arrives in the London airport, he will cry.

“I will cry because it is an amazing achievement to be in London carrying the torch and representing my country. I will also cry again when I get the chance to meet some of the athletes who will be participating in the Olympics,” he said.

Roberts was chosen out of more than 200 children participating in London’s 2012 international sports legacy programme, International Inspiration.

International Inspiration was developed as a result of the commitment made by the London Bid team in Singapore in 2005 to “reach young people all around the world, and connect them to the Inspirational power of the Games, so they are inspired to choose sport”.

He said he was first chosen together with four others to be interviewed at the British Embassy. He was later notified by email that he was chosen to bear the torch. His parents and teachers were thrilled.

“Everyone was so excited, I could not believe that I got chosen. It was almost unbelievable, but here I am soon to be an Olympic torch-bearer,” he declared.

Roberts, a long distance runner and a member of the Toco Track and Field Club, said his dream was to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the Olympics in 2016. “It is something I am aiming for since I would love to represent my country doing something that I love,” he said.

He said he got into track and field after seeing members of his family perform well in athletics, and he wanted to do the same. “I also got a lot of encouragement from my parents as they said I was meant for something great,” he said.

As part of his routine, Roberts trains daily for six hours. Three hours in the morning, and three hours in the afternoon. This includes running seven to eight miles daily, and swimming three miles in the sea.

Roberts, a Form Four student said he had no problem balancing his school work with athletics. “When it is time for work, I dedicate time to work. When it is time for training I dedicate my time to training,” he declared.

In addition to track and field, Roberts is also involved in Dragon Boat Racing. He is a member of the under 18-National Dragon Boat Team. He accompanied the team to a regatta in Miami, where they won seven medals.

Roberts said he does not allow any distractions to deter him from focussing on training, and his school work. He also tries to encourage other young people to follow in his footsteps. “There are so many young people who like to lime on the corner, and I always try to get them to train with me. It makes no sense to lime all the time. Some of them say they wish they were like me, but they never follow through with it,” he said.

Roberts, who is an only child, said he hopes he will be able to provide for his parents like they did and continue to still do for him.

“They give me so much, and they are always encouraging me to be better, and do better, I hope I could return the favour soon,” he said.

He said he hopes when other young people see what he has achieved with hard work and determination, they will be inspired.

-Darcel Choy