PRESIDENT of the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) Ephraim Serrette was satisfied with the performances of the Trinidad and Tobago athletes over the weekend, but says the focus is ensuring the junior athletes are ready for the senior level.

TT earned 12 medals over the past week and a half at various meets throughout the world, with nine of the 12 coming from track and field. TT took three medals at the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships held from July 14 to 23, five medals at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in Bahamas from July 18 to 23 and four medals at the Pan American Junior Championships in Peru, which ran from July 21 to 23.

At the World Para Games, Akeem Stewart won gold and broke the world record in both the men’s javelin F44 and men’s shot put F44 events. Nyoshia Cain added bronze in the women’s T44 100m event.

At the Commonwealth Youth Games, Adell Colthrust won gold in the boys 100m event and Tyriq Horsford snatched silver in the boys javelin. In Peru, Khalifa St Fort won gold in the girls 100m, while Tyra Gittens (girls long jump), the boys 4x100m and boys 4x400m teams all won bronze.

Serrette said, “It is always nice when the athletes go out and they do well.” The NAAA president said steps are in place to ensure the junior athletes progress to the senior level.

“It is a good feeling (that the junior athletes are excelling).

The worry or concern that we have is the transitioning of our juniors to the next level. We have a youth elite programme that we developed this year, it is only about six or seven months in operation.” The NAAA officially launched the Youth Elite Programme in collaboration with the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC) earlier this month. “It is a pathway we are trying to develop for our athletes to go to the next level,” Serrette said.

Serrette said the youth elite programme will help the athletes with areas such as nutrition, psychology and physical therapy. “We are focusing on the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.

Normally somebody will win a medal and then we would say ‘That is our next (senior level) medal’, but no conversation is had with that athlete or coach on how do we get there. Our youth elite programme is really geared towards assisting the athletes, coaches and parents.” Serrette thanked everyone for their support of the athletes, but said more support is needed from corporate TT.

“We had a good showing, we just need the support. I want to thank the Government for the support they have been giving, but more so the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago who we have a three-year MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with respect to the development of track and field in Trinidad and Tobago.

We need for more corporate citizens to come on board to support the development of sport in general.” The TT athletes will now focus on the 2017 London World Championships from August 4 to 13. Men’s javelin athlete Keshorn Walcott and women’s sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye will lead the charge for TT at the World Championships. Serrette believes all the TT athletes are in with a chance to medal.

“We have quite a few athletes who have been doing well. You just have to go there and earn your medal because you could never predict. It is on the day that the athletes perform and do what they have to do.”