Commonwealth 800 metres silver medallist succumbs to cancer

Olympian Benedict “The Rolls Royce” Cayenne has passed away.

Cayenne, who represented Trinidad and Tobago with distinction at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico, died on Saturday in the United States, losing his battle with cancer. The University of Maryland graduate was 70.

At the ‘68 Games, Cayenne advanced all the way to the men’s 800 metres final. He returned a time of one minute, 48.2 seconds to finish second in his first round heat. The Barrackpore-born half-miler clocked 1:46.8 for fourth spot in the opening semifinal. And in the championship race, he finished eighth in 1:54.3.

Cayenne’s close friend and Olympic teammate, Edwin Roberts remembers Cayenne’s battle with the high altitude of Mexico City.

“Benedict was always a great runner,” Roberts tells the Express. “He was very surprising when he went to the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. In the first round, when he finished, he fell down, and the guy came down and gave him oxygen. The second round, they came out and gave him oxygen. The third round, which was the final, they ran out there, but Benedict stood up. He didn’t have to get oxygen.”

In 1968, Cayenne became the first T&T athlete to reach an Olympic Games 800m final. No one has yet matched the feat.

Also in Mexico City, George Simon, Euric Bobb, Cayenne and Roberts combined for sixth spot in the men’s 4x400m relay.

Cayenne’s greatest achievement came at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland. He became T&T’s first Commonwealth Games 800m medallist, earning silver in 1:47.42. Again, this feat is still unmatched.

At the same Games, Melville Wong Shing, Cayenne, Kent Bernard and Roberts teamed up for 4x400m silver.

“The best race Benedict ran,” says Roberts, “is when he was in Edinburgh for the Commonwealth Games. He did very well there. He ran a very smart race – in the 800 and the 4x4.”

Cayenne also earned precious metal at the 1966 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He bagged bronze in the men’s 800m, and was part of the T&T team that secured 4x400m silver.

“Sad to say,” Roberts laments, “we will miss a great person. He got along very, very well with the athletes, and has lived a good life. He travelled with me all over Europe – Germany, France, Italy, Sweden... he used to go all over and run. Benedict’s career was a great career.”

In his younger days, Cayenne served T&T as a member of the police service.


Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Sportswoman of the Year, Cleopatra Borel, has thrown her support behind TTOC president, Brian Lewis, as he attempts to undertake several new developmental initiatives in the coming year towards achieving his ultimatum of “10 Olympic Gold Medals by 2024.”

Delivering the feature address at the organisation’s annual award ceremony at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Port-of-Spain, on Monday, Borel proudly aligned herself with Lewis’ plans.

According to Borel, such a goal is indeed achievable for the 1.4 million populated twin-island republic. The 31-year-old field athlete outlined five key steps to bolster the country’s future Olympic performances.

“The first step is to create a large pool of coaches, sport administrators, sport medicine personnel and support staff,” said Borel. “The staff ranging from volunteers to full-time professionals, will administer training programmes, keep our athletes injury free and provide other services athletes need to succeed.”

She added that the second step is to create a large pool of potential Olympic athletes. According to Borel, recruitment and talent identification by coaches is pivotal. Driving her point home, Borel reflected on the countless challenges she faced as an athlete coming out of Mayaro, where she was not afforded sporting opportunities.

“The next (third) step is to select our target Olympic events. This is necessary because it is quite challenging for any country to sponsor individuals in all Olympic events. This does not mean that we stop participating in a wide variety of events, but more resources must go towards targetted events. We must decide where we have the best chance to medal, and invest in those events,” she said.

Following her third revelation, the 2014 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games gold medallist saw it crucial for the Government, TTOC, Ministry of Sport and the public to assist in providing the basic needs of athletes.

In conclusion, the Commonwealth Games silver receiver said that to produce these hopeful heightened successes, it is imperative that TT’s athletes have the fundamental tools to practice their sport.


TRINIDAD and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) head Brian Lewis has called for greater effort nationally in promoting and developing local sporting talent to redound to the benefit of the entire nation.

He made the call and promised the TTOC’s lead role in this goal while delivering the feature address at the Committee’s 17th annual national sports awards on Monday at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port-of-Spain.

At one of the marquee events on the local sporting calendar, the cream of the crop of local sports was honoured with shot put champion Cleopatra Borel and reigning Olympic javelin gold medalist Keshorn Walcott, leading the way in being announced the Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year, respectively.

Other athletes were honoured on the night for excelling in their respective sporting disciplines. Lewis spoke of the bountifulness of Trinidad and Tobago’s sporting talent. He said the TTOC must lead the way in championing the cause of developing sportsmen and women and maintaining sporting facilities as part of the design plan for nation building.

“The sheer talent, promise and potential of the nation’s youth and young people as represented by our athletes are simply breathtaking but you have to watch and pay close attention .

“In pursuit of their dream, in striving for excellence our Olympic and Commonwealth athletes endure punishing hours of training and the arduous task of endless repetition. Often their inspiration, dedication, resilience, commitment and self-discipline go unnoticed. Through Sport our talented sons and daughters break boundaries on the global platform that is the Olympic, Commonwealth and other multi-sport Games,” Lewis said.

He added that the TTOC remains indomitable and passionate in its belief that the goal of the Olympic movement to use sport to educate and serve young people is as relevant today as it was 2,000 plus years ago.

“One thing is certain, when we engage children and reach out to them to bring them to sport, we must ensure their inspirational role models our athletes, are at the centre of what we do and why we do what we do,” he said.

He reiterated the need to protect Olympic and Commonwealth sports from the “dangerous threat” posed by doping, gambling, the cycle of corruption and poor governance. “If we don’t face these challenges our right to self-regulate, our autonomy, legitimacy our stewardship will be taken away from us. To whom much is given much is expected.”

In this respect, he then proposed that TTOC will continue in 2015 to vigorously promote the adoption of good governance and ethics across the country’s Olympic and Commonwealth Sport movement and be unwavering in advocating and promoting a good governance code for sport.

“The TTOC must lead from the front in championing for the development of a sport industry. This will require not just lobbying and finger pointing but the articulation of the conceptual framework that will inform the policy debate. Our collective challenge is to take sport mainstream,” he said adding that in many instances, sport remains on the margins of TT society.

“The children, youth and young people of contemporary Trinidad and Tobago have a lot of different interests that present a threat to active sport and healthy lifestyles. The responsibility to create and shape a bright sustainable future for tomorrow’s athletes and for sport on the whole falls to our generation of sport leaders, administrators, athletes and coaches,” Lewis said.


Four-time Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Sportswoman of the Year Cleopatra Borel backed the ‘10 gold by 2024’ objective set out by TTOC president Brian Lewis and gave a five-step plan how to achieve it.
Borel was speaking at the 17th TTOC Annual Awards ceremony on Monday night at the national Academy for Performing Arts (NAPA). The 2014 Commonwealth silver medallist said that while things have improved over the years on team T&T, there is still a lot of room for growth.
“To meet this goal we must become the kind of country that strategically produces champions. We must ask ourselves, is it possible for Trinidad and Tobago to evolve into a sport loving, butt-kicking, hard-working, sacrifice-making, Olympic medal-winning nation? I dare to say ‘yes it’s possible’,” she told the audience, referring to Lewis’ pronouncement of the ‘10 gold by 24’ Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund last week.
Borel said we already have two gold medals from Hasely Crawford and Keshorn Walcott and would have to win at an average of 2.66 over the next three editions of the quadrennial games to achieve that goal.
“This is by no means an easy undertaking, but it is possible. Canada, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Portugal, Greece and Argentina, are all established sporting nations, but each won less than two gold medals at the (2012) London Olympic Games. However, I still believe it is possible for Team T&T to meet the challenge set by Mr (Brian) Lewis,” the two-time CAC gold medallist stated.
Borel suggested that to compete against, and perform better than countries that have bigger budgets, better facilities, and larger populations than Trinidad and Tobago, the authorities have to put the athletes first.
She detailed a five-step plan, including creating a large pool of coaches, sport administrators, sport medicine personal and support staff; creating a large pool of potential Olympic athletes; selecting our target Olympic events, that is, events and disciplines in which the country has the best chance to medal; providing for the basic needs of our athletes—healthy food, clothing and shelter; and providing the necessary equipment, facilities and technological expertise.
“It is my opinion that our athletes and coaches have done well in light of the obstacles faced. However, more is needed if we are serious about winning Olympic gold medals. I ask you once again ...members of the sporting fraternity, can we meet the needs of our athletes? I believe it’s possible,” Borel concluded.


...Cedenio is Express Youth of the Year

Machel Cedenio dominated his peers in Eugene, Oregon, USA on July 24 to strike gold in the men’s 400 metres event at the IAAF World Junior (under-20) Championships. The global achievement has earned him the Trinidad Express Youth of the Year award.
Cedenio is based in Florida, USA, and is coached by American Lance Brauman. The Presentation College, San Fernando old boy said that training alongside the likes of fellow-Trinidad and Tobago athlete Keston Bledman and American Tyson Gay made a big difference in his preparation for the World Juniors meet.
“Being in an environment where you’re around Olympic and World Championship medallists every day,” Cedenio told the Express, “you have no choice but to focus and train hard. It was a good season. Every time I ran, I cut down my time. It was not overnight magic.”
Cedenio sounded an early-season warning with a comfortable triumph at the Carifta Games in Martinique, in April. He produced a 45.95 seconds run in the championship race to retain his title, finishing more than a second ahead of his closest challenger.
The next stop on the road to World Juniors gold came in the Cayman Islands, where Cedenio smashed the national junior 400m record. He clocked 45.23 seconds to secure top spot in the Cayman Invitational men’s one-lap event.
Less than three weeks later, Cedenio secured global precious metal. The teenager teamed up with Lalonde Gordon, Renny Quow and Jarrin Solomon for bronze at the inaugural IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas. Running the third leg, Cedenio held his own against more seasoned competitors to help Trinidad and Tobago claim third spot in a national record time of two minutes, 58.34 seconds.
At the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championships, in Morelia, Mexico, Cedenio made light work of his rivals in the under-20 400m final, grabbing gold in 45.28 seconds.
The CAC outing was the ideal warm-up for World Juniors. Just 16 days later, Cedenio was competing at the global meet, in the opening round of the 400. The Point Fortin-born quarter-miler topped heat six in 46.60 seconds. Pacing himself well through the rounds, Cedenio cruised to victory in his semifinal heat in 45.90.
The championship race turned out to be a race against the clock. With no challenger in sight, Cedenio motored to the finish line in 45.13 seconds—a new national junior record. Cedenio, a member of the Simplex Athletic Club, was coached by Gunness Persad early in his career.
“I thank God, my parents and my coaches (for this award), including Persad who gave me the opportunity to go to Florida and train with the guys.”
When at home, Cedenio still seeks the advice of Persad.
“Right now, I’m getting ready to go practice with him.”