media_artricles :: 2016
Iím not responsible for appealsAndre Baptise :: Trinidad Guardian :: 21.08.2016
T&T athletes were denied third position in the Men's 4x400 metres relay semi-finals and seventh in the Men's 4x100 metres relay finals on Friday night after they were disqualified and their protests upheld at the Rio Olympics in Brazil.
Appeals to these decisions were lodged by the manager of the track and field team George Commissiong and the head coach Ian Carter, leaving questions to be raised about the role of chef de mission Ian Hypolite, who was on ESPN Caribbean broadcast where he was being used as an analyst for track and field events.
When contacted, Dr Hypolite disagreed he should have been involved in the appeal, noting it was not his role. "Each discipline, each sporting discipline has a management team, including a manager, particularly in the sport of track and field. If an appeal is supposed to be lodged then a manager is the one to do that. That basically is how it goes. Of course you can say an official, but that is really the manager of the team and last night the manager lodged the appeal in both instances and both were unsuccessful," Dr Hypolite explained.
Quizzed on whether it would have made a difference if he was there, Dr Hypolite said "The chef de mission does not get involved in this. It is like running a business, you have people assigned to certain jobs. It is not the chef's role to get involved in the field of play, there are other responsible officials such as the team manager, who is there for this."
Concerns were raised that due to Dr Hypolite's knowledge and experience in the field, he may have been helpful to local officials in the appeal. However Dr Hypolite, who served as coach of T&T 400 metres hurdler Jehue Gordon, said: "This may be because of people's ignorance of the role of a chef de mission and his functions and the process in lodging an appeal with track and field."
He added: "My knowledge and influence did not start now. I have been the head coach to many a track-and-field team leaving T&T for international competitions for many years now and we have lodged appeals. I myself have not lodged an appeal. It has always been the manager, so even when I was not chef de mission, it was not a question of my knowledge and influence."
According to Dr Hypolite: "I do not know how people will accept it, but I will say to you though that prior to being named as chef de mission, I was interviewed for the position at ESPN before accepting the role as chef de mission. I did not get a response, so I went ahead and accepted the role as chef de mission, which I reported to Brian Lewis, president of the TTOC, who gave his blessing that I could function in the chef de mission role given this assignment"
"The chef de mission role is not a singular role. I do not advocate all responsibility to myself. I have a very solid team, including the deputy chef de mission and I think all of these things influenced Lewis' endorsement of my position." Dr Hypolite told the Sunday Guardian: "I will state categorically that at no point in time were any of these functions compromised by my being at ESPN. All matters, administrative or otherwise, have been carried out successfully without any problem. In addition, my schedule at ESPN was particularly adjusted so that I was able to perform all my duties and functions as chef."
"People are prone to judge T&T's performances on the basis of medals which is understandable, as we see Jamaica continue to win medals while we would like to be part of the action. On the other hand, we have managed to reach some finals, and yes, if you reach a final, you can win a medal. We have had some mishaps and we have not had the medals expected, or that everyone wants, but I think everyone needs to understand that none of our athletes is going outside there to do poorly, but rather, give of his or her best. This is an extremely high level of competition" noted Dr Hypolite.
"If we had a couple of medals under our belt, we would not be having this discussion, but this is the way life is. When you accept responsibility, you get this type of criticism and the athletes are aware of it. It will only serve to make them stronger" he said.
"We have got to continue our thrust and we have got to continue to support our athletes. We tend to be fair-weather people, support them when things are going right but turn our backs when we are down. If we want to compare ourselves with Jamaica, we have to look at them. When Usain Bolt failed in 2004, he was wrongly criticized in Jamaican circles, but they quickly found themselves and began to give him support and that is exactly what needs to happen in T&T" Dr Hypolite concluded.
T&T's Deon Lendore, third from left, during the third leg of the men's 4x400-meter relay semifinal during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Friday. AP PHOTO