Trinidad and Tobago’s men’s bobsled pilot Axel Brown and brakeman Andre Marcano held their first official test run along the Yanqing National Sliding Centre track in China on Wednesday.

The pair, alongside alternate Shakeel John and officials Thomas Harris and Lewis Prentice, makes up TT’s men’s bobsled team which will feature, after a 20-year hiatus, at the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

The quadrennial games begin on Sunday.

John replaced two-time TT Summer Olympian Mikel Thomas on the national team after the latter fell ill before departure en route to China last week. John is expected to join the team on Thursday.

On the squad’s first attempt on the tricky course, TT chef de mission Lovie Santana said, via WhatsApp, “It went well and they admire the architecture. They are positive, confident and ready for competition.

“They have done their walk-through and view of the track and have commenced training. Given the type of sport an alternate athlete is required in case of injuries or any unforeseen situations.”

The track that will be used for the sliding events is the first of its kind in the world with a 360-degree turn. The competition length of the track is 1615 metres, with a maximum gradient of 18 per cent and 16 curves.

Thomas however, would have been the first TT Olympian to compete at both the Summer and Winter Games. But it was not to be. Following his omission from the squad, for medical reasons, Thomas posted a video explaining his situation and wished the team well.

“My love and support still remains with the contingency. I had to withdraw my position on the team due to some medical circumstances.

“Earlier this week, I was suffering from some chest pains. I was trying to get some rest one night and I just couldn’t. My chest was really tight and congested and it stopped me from resting. I have an acute case of pericarditis which is inflammation around the lining of my heart.

“We have no idea where this came from. Nothing is physically wrong with my heart, lungs or internal system. However, it tends to comes from some viral disease but there’s no case of covid19.

“I had no cough, no fever, flu and no symptoms of anything. With all the blood and swabs we tried to test, nothing came up. It’s just something that came about. Training had been tapering down and there was no blunt force to my chest,” he said.

Thomas was placed on antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication and told by medics to use the next three to four weeks to rest.

He concluded, “It’s still been an honour to be a part of history. It hurts but it’s one of those things I have to trust the Lord for.”