Olympic dreams at stake for TT athletes as June 29 deadline approaches
In a race against time to get local athletes to qualify for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) President George Comissiong said the local association is in touch standing with the Ministry of Health to organize a local meeting.
Several local athletes failed to make the qualifying standard for the Olympics, which take place July 23 through August 8.
The Olympics have been postponed for a year due to the covid19 pandemic.
Since March 2020, TT sport has been affected with several events canceled or postponed. Athletics is no exception because for a year there were no events locally.
The NAAA hosted a few events earlier this year to provide competition for local athletes, but these events have not been approved by the IAAF. Local athletes are banking on TT events to secure seats at the Olympics. The annual National Open Championships are one such event that took place in June. However, this encounter is uncertain due to the pandemic.
Many TT athletes have already booked a spot in Tokyo, including 2012 Olympic gold medalist Keshorn Walcott and long jumper Andwuelle Wright. Men’s 200m runner Jereem Richards is another athlete heading to the Olympics.
In an interview with Newsday, Comissiong said, “The away athletes are having a pretty good (season)… some of the seniors are doing pretty well.”
Regarding the local athletes, he said, “The challenge is really these people who are at home right now and looking to reach the qualifying standard. This is the challenge. “
June 29 is the deadline for obtaining Olympic qualification for most track and field events.
TT athletes based in the United States have had the chance in recent weeks to compete in the United States.
Richards and Deon Lendore both won bronze at the US Track and Field Gold Games in Walnut, Calif., On Sunday.
Richards competed in the men’s 200m and Lendore competed in the men’s 400m.
Discussing the possibility of local meetings in the coming weeks, Comissiong said: “We (are) in almost daily contact with officials from the Ministry of Health. We understand the situation, but it’s kind of a balance. How can we provide some competition for local athletes to meet the standard without violating covid restrictions? “
Covid19 cases and deaths have increased in recent weeks in the TT, which has led to stringent measures being put in place by the government.
Two TT relay teams have already qualified for the Olympics, including the men’s 4x400m team and the women’s 4x100m team.
“The level of competition in the states right now, I think, is high. College athletes who compete on the NCAA Tour – this level of competition is pretty high. Although there are restrictions around the world, there are many older Americans who are at home… the invitational events are well sponsored.
Comissiong said overseas TT athletes are “lucky” to compete in this environment.
Ephraim Serrette, special advisor to Sports and Community Development Minister Shamfa Cudjoe, told Newsday it was a difficult time for the athletes. “Personally, this is a big concern. The final decision rests with the CMO (Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram) and the Minister of Health (Terrence Deyalsingh to organize events locally). I sympathize with the athletes… it’s a tough time.