An Olympic medal still remains out of reach for women athletes in T&T. This has haunted T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis way before he took over the organisation and he is consistently seeking to develop new strategies in trying to achieve this goal.
“In the context of women and Olympic sport, T&T will be left behind if we don’t up our game,” said Lewis in a release last week.
“There are certain aspects related to women that must be incorporated in respect of long term female athlete development.”
A number of athletes including Michelle-Lee Ahye, Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Semoy Hackett and Cleopatra Borel in recent times, have come the closest, reaching the final round in their respective fields but have fallen just short of making the podium.
Lewis said: “The reality is after 70 years of TTOC and TT Olympic history, T&T is yet to have a female Olympic medalist and it isn’t because of a lack of talent or strong mind or a burning desire for success on the part of the athletes.”
Of the 32 members, which was the highest number of delegates this country has sent in its history to an Olympic Games, 11 were women. They were in track and field athletes, Ahye, Hackett, Baptiste, Reyare Thomas, Khalifa St Fort, Kai Selvon, Janeil Bellille, Sparkle McKnight and Cleopatra Borel, gymnast Marisa Dick and rower Felice Aisha Chow.
This meant that 34 per cent of the delegates were women that represented T&T at the games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August. Ahye had placed sixth both the 100 metres and 200m final at the Rio Olympics and Veteran field athlete Borel finished seventh out of 12 finalists.
In London 2012, Hackett was the first woman to qualify for the final of an Olympic Games 200m final, where she finished eighth. At that event, Baptiste competed in the 100m medal race and placed sixth as well.
She, along with Ahye, Hackett and Kai Selvon made up T&T 4x100m relay team, which reached the final but did not finish as Ahye did not complete the baton exchange to Baptiste.
“Doing what needs to be done to give our female athletes the help they need to translate and elevate their talent to the Olympic podium,” said Lewis on one of the TTOC’s major goals presently.
“There are issues and problems that cannot be ignored or denied any longer.”
Lewis, who is also head of the T&T Commonwealth Games Association and T&T Beach and Sand Games Association, continues to urge local athletes, women and men, to work hard work and keep that determination, to yield success.
He said: “You have to want it so badly that nothing else matters. To represent your country you have to want it even more. You have to have a strong mind.
“Olympic and elite level sport is about constant improvement otherwise you will be left behind.”