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Head of T&T Olympic mission: Walcott outstanding, too much criticism

Kwame Laurence :: Trinidad Express :: 21.08.2016

Chef de mission of Trinidad and Tobago's Rio 2016 team, Dr Ian Hypolite, has described Keshorn Walcott as "outstanding". Walcott bagged men's javelin bronze at the Joao Havelange Olympic Stadium, here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday night, the 2012 gold medallist taking his Olympic medal haul to two.

"Keshorn would have undergone a lot of criticism after 2012, so it was very heartening for him to get a medal. It is testimony to his own ability as an athlete and the quality of perseverance. This augurs well for the future."

Walcott's bronze was the only medal for T&T at the 2016 Games. But there were six other finalists in track and field.

Machel Cedenio finished fourth in the men's 400 metres championship race in 44.01 seconds to erase a 24-year-old national record from the books. Michelle-Lee Ahye became the country's first female double Olympic finalist, the ­Texas-based sprinter finishing sixth in the 100m and 200m events. She clocked 22.25 in the semifinal round to break her own T&T ­record.

Semoy Hackett, Ahye, ­Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Khalifa St Fort teamed up for fifth in the women's 4x100m championship race—T&T's highest-ever female finish at the Olympics.

The men's 4x1 team—Keston Bledman, Rondel Sorrillo, Emmanuel Callender and Richard "Torpedo" Thompson—reached the final, but then got disqualified for a lane infringement.

And four-time Olympian Cleopatra Borel secured seventh spot in the women's shot put final. In her last Olympic assignment as an athlete, 37-year-old Borel carried the T&T flag at yesterday's closing ceremony.

Dr Hypolite said much of the ­criticism of the Team T&T ­performance here in Rio was ­unwarranted. "The showing has been quite creditable. People don't have a sense of what it takes to get to a final. We got one medal, but could have had a couple more. That's the way it goes in international competition. Nothing is given."

Social media was the main forum for the attacks on T&T athletes.

"Can't vouch for the effect," said the T&T chef, "but it's never a good thing going into battle knowing negative things are being said about you.

It's a difficult situation. Social media is how it is. It's growing, and I don't know how one controls that."

Dr Hypolite, an executive ­member of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC), said concerted ­efforts were made by the organisation to build team spirit, ahead of the 2016 Rio Games.

"The TTOC did its endeavour best, hosting a camp in Sao Paulo at great expense. We thought the camp was a successful one, going to great lengths to ensure the comfort of the athletes. From what I can see, there was camaraderie. Once you get to the Games Village, however, it becomes hectic, with everyone going their respective ways. There's not a lot of time for bonding, like before."

Dr Hypolite said while T&T did produce a solid showing at Rio 2016, an assessment has to be made in order to determine ways of increasing the Olympic medal count.

"A post-mortem needs to be done. The major stakeholders have to sit down and decide how to proceed. I don't think any one issue is pertinent.

It's very easy to lay blame at one quarter or another, but there are many factors that have transpired. The world is not a static one, and medals weren't a certainty."

T&T finished joint-78th on the medal table, with nine other countries, thanks to Walcott's bronze on Saturday night.

United States topped the table with 46 gold medals, 37 silver and 38 bronze. Great Britain (27 gold, 23 silver, 17 bronze) were runners-up, with third spot going to China (26 gold, 18 silver, 26 bronze). And led by triple gold medallist Usain Bolt, Jamaica finished 16th, with six gold medals, three silver and two bronze.

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ATTACKS UNFAIR - Head of T&T Olympic mission: Walcott outstanding, too much criticism
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RED, WHITE & BLACK: Trinidad and Tobago's bronze medal winner Keshorn Walcott celebrates after the men's javelin throw final, on Saturday at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: SEAN MORRISON

Kwame Laurence Rio Olympics 2016

Trinidad Express

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