PRESIDENT of the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) George Comissiong feels the pain of TT track and field athletes who were not fortunate to have a hectic season leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but thanked all those for making the past year as fruitful as possible.
The NAAA got approval from the Ministry of Health to hold two meets to give athletes a final opportunity to make the Olympic standard. None of the athletes, which included many juniors, earned the standard. Those meets took place on June 21 and 27 at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
It has been a challenging year for local athletes as many were limited to training in their yards and communities at certain stages of the pandemic.
Stadia such as Hasely Crawford and Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima have been made available to athletes periodically during the pandemic.
Athletes have not been able to produce the times they are capable of due to a lack of local meets because competition often brings out the best in athletes.
"It has been a difficult year for our athletes (concerning) the continued border closures which has resulted in quite a few of them not being able to return home," Comissiong told Newsday on Sunday.
Comissiong said he is thankful for the support given by local authorities but knows everyone did not have the luxury of utilising the local stadia.
"Again the restrictions (locally) have limited the access of many of the athletes to the national stadia. Arrangements were made through SporTT (Sport Company of TT) to facilitate as many as we could and we are grateful for that. It is not that we are ungrateful, but the reality is that some of the younger ones would not have had the opportunity to train as they would have liked, but we are at the end of the season and we have succeeded somewhat in mitigating some of the challenges."
Several TT athletes have been able to compete overseas during the pandemic before the Olympics, which will be held from July 23-August 8.
Among them are men's 200m pair Jereem Richards and Kyle Greaux, javelin athlete Keshorn Walcott and women's sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye.
Comissiong thanked those for their support. "We want to thank all those who would have assisted one way or the other - the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Sport, our technical officials for coming out."
Comissiong, speaking to Newsday during the second local Olympic trial, said local officials have shown their commitment during the pandemic. "They are also making a sacrifice in that there is an element of risk to them and they are here again today (Sunday) providing loyal service (as well as) the athletes and coaches for their continued co-operation."