Olympic and Pan American Games medallist Emmanuel Callender says the determination of this country’s athletes to always excel has led to T&T’s improved medal position at the Pan American Games, which came to an end in Toronto, Canada, last weekend.

Speaking to the T&T Guardian at Piarco International Airport on the team’s return home on Tuesday morning, he said, “We came out with eight medals. We also came out with a lot of personal best. The team is a fairly new one. We have some new athletes running on the 4 x 100 relay. The chemistry is now starting to build. It’s a very good one.”

Of the relay team of which he was a member, Callender said, “We only had one day to practice before we ran that 4 by 100m. We had to pull it together as quickly as possible. I think we did very well. We came off the heat above a lot of other countries. Our hand-offs weren’t the best, but we can work on it and make things a lot better.”

With his sights already fixed on this country’s participation at the World Championships and other international meets later this year, Callender said the 4 by 100-metre relay team of which he was apart, which secured bronze for T&T, still needed to overcome some technical hurdles from the starter to the anchor, if they were to retain a place on the podium in the future.

During the time they spent together, he was clear that his teammates were undoubtedly committed. Commenting on his present form, the 100 metre sprinter said if the Rio 2016 Olympic was tomorrow he would not be ready. He believed same could be said for his teammates.

“I don’t think people understand what it takes to step up on that Olympic podium. It’s not an easy task. We have to work a lot closer with the Minister of Sport and the TTOC and other organisations and corporate T&T, to help the athletes in terms of finances because finances are a main part in preparation going towards the Olympic Games. Truth be told, most of the athletes don’t work. We have to depend on the Olympic Solidarity Fund and the Elite Funding to ensure that we stay healthy, pay coaching fees, pay rent and the other stuff so we could be on the medal podium,” he said.