media_artricles :: 2016
This Gold Medal could have been T&T'sDexter Philip & Sue-Ann Wayow :: Trinidad Express :: 18.08.2016
TRINIDAD and Tobago born US-based athlete Kerron Clement, who struck gold in the men's 400 metres hurdles finals at the Olympic Stadium in Rio De Janeiro on Thursday, could have competed for T&T if not for the country's bureaucracy.
He migrated to the US when he was 13.
Former president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Larry Romany said the main reason why Clement never represented the country was because he could not get a Trinidad and Tobago passport, a requirement for representing a country in the world's greatest sporting event.
Romany was a committee member at the time, Clement was being considered for the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Team in Athens, Greece in 2004.
Romany told the Express on Thursday: " We had identified him as a possible person to run for Trinidad. It was a completely different NAAA (National Association of Athletics Administration) in those days. This was between 2000 and 2004 if I remember correctly, and it was a situation where we (Trinidad and Tobago) would have had to make the approach to getting the citizenship (for Clement), getting the passport because even though you may have had parents, you have to have a Trinidad passport to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the Olympic games so he would have to have a Trinidad and Tobago passport and the NAAA would have had to negotiated with him the terms and conditions for him to run for Trinidad an I don't think that process ever went very far."
He said: " It was protracted and as time passed and the Olympic Games came closer , what he did he just never worried with it anymore."
Clement's decision to compete for the US was met with criticism by some locals but Clement had defended it saying : "I still love my country. I would never say that I don't, because I do".
Clement's website states that he was born in Trinidad on October 31, 1985, the youngest of three children including his two older sisters, Krystle Darcelle Clement and Kizzy Ann Francis.
"All were raised by their single mother, Claudette Clement. When Kerron was only three days old, a doctor diagnosed him with Pyloric Stenosis for which he had to undergo Pyloromyotomy surgery. This surgical procedure was medically necessary because without it, his body would have been unable to retain nourishment, and he would have had only a 50 per cent chance of survival."
At the age of five years, Kerron began participating in athletics in the Deliverance Temple church where he first discovered his passion and talent for running.
Romany added: " The system for transferring passports and so forth at the time, it was not as it is today it was not as efficient so trying to apply so him it took more time. You needed a lot of people involved and we just were not as proactive in those days. that was 12 years. ago . The local organisation needed to make representation to the government, to have it happen and then if they agreed they would have made representation to the IAAF to switch him from the US."
In an interview with the Express in 2005, Clement said: "The U.S. has great athletes in every event, the hurdles, the 400, the 100 ... and I want to train with the best in the world. The trials in the US," he continued, "is like a simulation of the Olympics or the World Championships ... you get a feel of where you stand against world class athletes. The U.S. is where I'm going to be living, I guess, for the rest of my life. But I would like to come back home one day, and run on the track there."
For more information about Clement, you can go to his website at www.kerronclementonline.com
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USA's Kerron Clement celebrates after he won the Men's 400m Hurdles Final during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 18, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN