We all eagerly awaited the start of the IAAF championships where the world’s best track and field performers were expected to be at their best for this auspicious occasion at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, China. The expectations of a better medal performance from our athletes were perhaps the result of our team’s performance at last month’s Pan Am Games in Canada.

However, it seems that the joy of winning medals tends to conceal some of the important issues which may have been happening with the athletes who failed to get among the winners. Before the start of the Games the national 4x100 metres relay team lost two of its members due to injuries and by the conclusion of the 100 metres event it lost a third which means that the red, white and black national flag will not be flying in the men’s sprint relay at the famous Bird’s Nest stadium.

By the end of the second day in Beijing, the picture was beginning to show itself with a fair degree of consistency, especially with our Men’s 400m runners and Women’s sprinters. 

However, the story of Keston Bledman was disturbing from all angles, seeing that he ran a wonderful sub-10 100m at the National Championships and looked extraordinarily comfortable at the end of his run, which bettered all the other national sprinters. His fans must have been disappointed when he hurt his groin in the Pan Am Games, especially after he had shown excellent quality over this distance for at least six years.

Surely, that type of injury was not the type to repair in any short amount of time. The national champion sprinter told T&T officials he wanted to miss the Pan Am Games in order to better prepare for the World Championships. A report stated that he was told he was getting money from the government and had to run.

He even discussed the issue with his two coaches although no one wanted to listen. The lad was just getting a series of injections and other medicinal stuff to repair a groin strain when only rest and specialised treatment could bring normalcy. It was a similar picture for Jehue Gordon, whose lead-up to the games via the National Championships provided glimpses of under-preparedness. 

However, he was still chosen to face the starter in the most prestigious athletic competition in the world. I wonder whether the people in charge of our athletes’ preparation understand that with an injury one cannot simply perform at his best and that encouraging an injured athlete to use medication to perform because the Government has invested in him is ludicrous. It demonstrates a lack of knowledge that exists in the development of our sportsmen and women.

Within the contest of any sport at the highest level, no injury should allow the athlete to perform at his/her best. One can understand Cleo Borel’s injury which occurred during the event, and even then, that injury would have retarded her progress as she admitted to reporters. Why then did she continue to be unable to operate at her best, knowing that she was incapable of giving her best?

One is sometimes left to wonder if predictions such as “10 golds by 2020” is expected to bring any more scientific approach to the athletes. However, I have to admit that after seeing the times and placings of Machel Cedeno, Lalonde Gordon and Renny Quow in the 400m and Michel Lee Ahye, Semoy Hackett and Kelly Ann Baptiste in the 100m preliminaries, better days may be ahead for these two events and, of course, the relays.

Why not learn lessons from Usain Bolt regarding the scientific method in which injuries are treated and the value of seeing the fitness fully repaired? We shall sit and await the progress of those who are healthy and giving of their best.