NATIONAL sprinter Dylan Woodruffe wants to surpass the athletic achievements of his grandfather, double Olympic medallist Wendell Mottley.
It will be no easy task, he said, but his national team spot for the 2022 Carifta Games (April 16-18) is his first step in following the athletic trail of his grandfather - a 400m silver and 4x400m bronze medallist at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Woodruffe, 16, of Fatima College, will fly the red, white and black at Carifta in the boys' Under-17 4x400m event. This is his first time representing TT at a regional meet and he admits to some anxiety leading up to the meet.
Domestically, he competes with Cougars Track and Field Club, ten of whose members make up the majority of club representatives on the 43-member national Carifta team.
Although still in the juvenile stages of his athletic career, Woodruffe is using the successes of his grandfather as a competitive gauge for himself, though he favours the 200m over the quarter-mile race.
"Even if I don't continue running the 400m and I focus only on the 200m, I would have to keep doing my best to make him (Mottley) proud. His performances inspire me to do better for myself - and even to do better than him, just to prove a point. I want to be better than him," said Woodruffe. Also selected to TT's Carifta U17 4x1400m team are Jamario Russell, Kaiyin Morris, Kyle Williams and Keeran Sriskandarajah.
Woodruffe is in regular contact with the US-based Mottley, and welcomes his advice pre and post-races. Mottley will travel to Jamaica for the Carifta Games to see his grandson in action.
"I'm certain after Carifta he will pose some challenges (athletic) to me. He is coming to Carifta to see me run.
"I speak to him all the time. He watches my 400m races and analyses them. If he finds I get out of the blocks too slowly, he lets me know to get out faster and hold a pace and so on," Woodruffe said.
In the 60s, Mottley was a sprinter for the Yale University track team and was the fastest man in the university's and Ivy League history. He also ran for Cambridge University and won two gold (440m and 4x440m relay) medals at the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Jamaica.
After retiring from the track, Mottley went into politics and was Minister of Housing and Resettlement from 1981-1985, Minister of Finance from 1992-1994 and Minister of Tourism from 1994-1995. He also briefly led his own party, the Citizens' Alliance. In 2018, he received the Order of the Republic of TT - the highest national award - for his contribution to national development and public service.
Woodruffe continued, "My long-term goal is to make it to the Olympics and bring back a medal for TT. I need to just keep working hard and invest more and more time into my training. I mainly do 400m and 600m training, because it helps me build speed endurance for the 200m."
He said it's tough at times to strike a balance between training and schoolwork.
"I'm doing a lot of additional lessons after track training to keep everything together. Sometimes it's a bit too much, but you get accustomed to it eventually."
Looking ahead at the Carifta Games, Woodruffe said, "Even though I'm a bit nervous, as this is my first ever regional meet representing TT, I'm excited to see how the rest of the Caribbean runs, and how far I have come in my development."
The TT Carifta team departs for Jamaica on April 14 and returns five days later.