JEHUE GORDON, manager of the Trinidad and Tobago athletics team who will compete at the inaugural Caribbean Games in Guadeloupe, expects a "great showing" from the 11-member track and field contingent, who will be in action this weekend.
Gordon, the 2013 World 400-metre hurdles champion, and former TT long jumper Wendell Williams (coach) will comprise the technical staff, while sprinter Leah Bertrand, who won the women's 100-metre gold at the National Championships last Saturday, will be one of TT's main medal prospects at Guadeloupe.
During an interview on Monday, Gordon said, "I wouldn't earmark anybody per se, with regards to medalling. I think, the team overall, is a very good team. I think, once given the opportunity to give their best in any final, because most of our athletes are ranked in the top ten going into this Caribbean Games, I could see us leaving with a couple medals.
"I wouldn't earmark anybody specifically, to put that type of pressure on them, but I would say that we have a very competent and strong youthful team that I expect a great showing from," he added.
This is the inaugural Caribbean Games, and it will be staged from Wednesday until Sunday.
"This is the first of its kind," said Gordon. "There would be things we may or may not be accustomed to but, as a manager, one of the main responsibilities is to try to protect and support the team as much as possible. I would say the entire team is looking forward to it.
"It's an opportunity where we can bridge the gap between the junior and the senior ranks, with the Under-23 age group. So, I expect it to be an event that we would have lots of memories from."
Asked if he is transitioning to a full-time role, off the track, Gordon replied, "This is just one of my ways and means of giving back. I was blessed with the opportunity and privilege to manage this Under-23 team."
He added, "I studied sports management while I attended the University of the West Indies so it is just an opportunity for me to utilise my education and, also, from the guidance of past managers of national teams to go out there and support the athletes as much as possible."
Is he still keeping alive hopes of a return to competitive action? Gordon responded, "Right now my main focus is where I'm at. I enjoy doing what I'm doing. I help, I give back, I coach, I assist some of the athletes with coaching when they do need me."
Gordon, who was elected as a director in the NAAA (National Association of Athletics Administrations) last year, continued, "Right now, my mind is not really on the track. When this tenure is up, I'll make my decision. Sport has been engraved in my blood for so many years. I still keep fit and active."
For some of the athletes, this may be their first time competing outside of TT post-pandemic. Has he spoken to any of them about how to deal with the pressure of foreign crowds?
"I haven't gone onto it in-depth," Gordon replied. "There is only one guy who haven't made a (TT) team and that's Lorenzo Lopez, but I have had time to visit him and explain to him the nature of what is really at stake, and the privilege he has by wearing the red, white and black, and not taking it for granted."
Overall, TT will have a squad of 62 athletes who will be involved in six sporting disciplines - track and field, netball, swimming, cycling, futsal and 3x3 basketball.
TT'S CARIBBEAN GAMES TEAM
ATHLETICS: Akilah Lewis (100m/women's 4x100m relay), Tamia Badal (100 hurdles/women's 4x100m relay), Leah Bertrand (100m/women's 4x100m relay), Naomi Campbell (100m/4x100m relay), Rae-Anne Serville (400m/4x100m relay), Jaydon Moore (100m/4x100m relay), Che Lara (400m/4x100m relay), Kion Benjamin (100m/4x100m relay), Lorenzo Luces (triple jump/4x100m relay); Jehue Gordon (manager), Wendell Williams (coach).
BASKETBALL 3x3: Addaya Moore, Afrika Lewis, Breanna Charles, Nikiya Baptiste; Kern George (coach).
CYCLING: Tariq Woods (road time trial/road race); Roger Frontin (manager/coach), Kevin Tinto (mechanic).
FUTSAL: Elijah Shade, Isaiah Williams, Che Benny, Josiah Joseph, Kalev Keil, Omri Baird, Darnell Hospedales, Symron Wiseman, Zion Mc Leod, Delaney Zamore; Paul Decle (coach), Nigel Roberts (manager), Brent Elder (massage therapist).
NETBALL: Katty Ann Graham, Tiana Dillon, Kelelicia George, Tia Bruno, Annabella Augustine, Ebony Williams, Faith Hagley, Akeima Estrada, Rayann Bristol, Rehanna Ali, Nicolette Osbourne, Shaniya Morgan; Sojourner Hyles-Lewis (coach), Vanessa Forde (manager), Simone Morgan (assistant coach), Keisha Fraser (massage therapist), Shenice Gittens (massage therapist).
SWIMMING: Ornella Walker, Jamia Harley, Nikoli Blackman, Mark-Anthony Beckles, Aqeel Joseph; Mosi Denoon (coach/manager).