media_artricles :: 2017
Athletes back on track
Voisin lauds T&T contingentKwame Laurence :: Trinidad Express :: 19.04.2017
Trinidad and Tobago enjoyed a satisfying turnaround at the 2017 Flow Carifta Games, earning seven gold medals, five silver and 10 bronze to finish second on the standings, behind Jamaica.
The solid Easter weekend performance here in Willemstad, Curacao came one year after a disappointing three gold, two silver, nine bronze haul in Grenada.
"My satisfaction," Team T&T manager Dexter Voisin told the Express, "is based on last year. And even the years before, we saw a trend where we were declining on the medal table. Not only that. Countries that we would have dominated easily over the years were dominating us."
At Carifta 2016, T&T finished fifth on the medal table, trailing perennial champions Jamaica, as well as Barbados, Bahamas and hosts Grenada.
"There are several factors which would have influenced the performance we witnessed here in Curacao. One of the main factors would have been the different mindset by the athletes and the coaches back home."
Voisin, who is also secretary of the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA), said club coaches play a key role in the success of national teams.
"At the end of the day, the coaches are the ones who prepare the athletes. When these coaches prepare the athletes to a particular level, the federation now has to ensure that these athletes represent Trinidad and Tobago in a comfortable mindset where they can perform and achieve their goals."
While he was generally pleased with the Team T&T performance at Carifta 2017, Voisin made special mention of three gold medallists.
"The highlights would definitely be double gold by Khalifa St Fort and the record-breaking performance by Tyriq Horsford. And for the first time we had someone dominating the heptathlon, in the name of Tyra Gittens. It's the first time she has performed for Trinidad and Tobago."
Horsford is now second on the 2017 world youth performance list, thanks to his record-breaking 76.50 metres effort in Sunday's boys' under-18 javelin competition. With that monster throw, the Tobago athlete completed a hat-trick of Carifta victories.
"It's a wonderful feeling," Horsford told the Express. "I have to thank coach Wade Franklyn for all the effort he has put into me."
The 17-year-old thrower now has his sights set on gold at the July 12-16 IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.
"By God's grace, I'm hoping to win that World Youth, and hopefully achieve over 80 metres."
St Fort, who is coached by T&T's quadruple Olympic medallist Ato Boldon, retained her Flow Carifta Games girls' under-20 100m title, and then followed up with gold in the 200m. Though the Florida-based sprinter was the overwhelming favourite in the shorter sprint, she won by just one-hundredth of a second. That close call in the century added significance to what was already a pivotal half-lap title bid.
"I've never been able to finish a double at a Championships, and that was the only thing that was on my mind. I said no matter what happens, I have to complete this double. This definitely gets me over my mental block with the 200 and doubling at events. I'm always injured or something always happens, so to finish the double even though I was not feeling 100 percent means the world to me.
"Without God," St Fort continued, "this would not have been possible at all. He got me through this Carifta Games. I'm relieved, and just happy I was able to trust myself, trust my training and trust God."
Gold in the boys' under-20 4x400m relay, the final track event at Carifta 2017, was the icing on the cake for T&T. Elijah Martin, Jacob St Clair, Judah Taylor and Kashief King teamed up to beat Jamaica in a thriller, anchorman King battling to the line to hold off his Jamaican counterpart Christopher Taylor.
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ST FORT PREVAILS: Trinidad and Tobago's Khalifa St Fort, right, gets the better of Jamaican Aneka Brissett, left, in the Carifta Games girls' under-20 100 metres final, in Willemstad, Curacao, late on Saturday. St Fort retained her title with an 11.56 seconds run, while Brissett seized silver in 11.57. –Photo: NIGEL BROWNE/FLOW