Home : news : articles : 2023 : 08 :

EXPERIENCED CAMPAIGNER: Trinidad and Tobago sprint star Michelle-Lee Ahye.


Experience, youth mix a plus, say Voisin, Burton

Go Back : Express : Kwame Laurence : 18.08.2023

Trinidad and Tobago team manager Dexter Voisin is not making any predictions ahead of the World Athletics Championships here in Budapest, Hungary.

"My expectations for the team will be consistent in recent years," Voisin told the Express, "where each individual will be expected to perform at their best, giving 100 percent effort."

Sixteen athletes were selected to represent Team TTO at Budapest 23.

The 2012 Olympic Games men's javelin gold medallist, Keshorn Walcott, 2022 world indoor men's 400 metres champion Jereem "The Dream" Richards, 2018 Commonwealth Games women's 100m gold medallist Michelle-Lee Ahye and rising sprint star Leah Bertrand will compete in individual events, while the other 12 are listed strictly for relay duty.

"The athletes competing in the individual events arrived since the 15th (Tuesday)," said Voisin, "and have settled in well. The other competing athletes have been arriving all day today (Friday) and will begin their settling period."

The Championships start this morning. TTO, however, will not see action until tomorrow when Richards lines up in the opening round of the men's 400m and Ahye and Bertrand compete in round one of the women's 100.

Ahye, Bertrand, Akilah Lewis, Reyare Thomas and Taejha Badal make up the women's 4x100m squad. Another woman, Antonia Burton is the coach assigned to the women's sprint relay.

"I think this year at the CAC Games was the first time they got to mix the experience with the younger ones," Burton told the Express. "Reyare did a fantastic job of taking on that leadership role, and we're looking for her and Michelle-Lee at this games to mould the younger ones. We're looking for there to be a smooth transition into the senior level for these girls.

"I spoke to her (Michelle-Lee) and I asked her to be that leadership person for them. So far so good. It's just a matter of her focusing on her individual event, of course, but when the relay comes along just doing what she has to do to make them feel comfortable at this level."

Burton is hoping the inclusion of 21-year-old Bertrand, Lewis, 22, and Badal, 20, on the TTO women's 4x1 squad would serve as a source of inspiration.

"I really hope this opens the door and motivates young females at home to stay with the sport and see where they can go with it."

The men's 4x1 and 4x4 relay squads also include very young athletes. At 18, Revell Webster is the youngest in the shorter relay. The 4x1 squad also includes 19-year-old Devin Augustine, the reigning national 100m champion. Shakeem McKay, 20, is the youngest in the 4x4.

"Based on the mixture of youth and experience," said Voisin, "I will say yes to a transitionary period. However, more athletes qualifying for more individual events in Budapest would have signalled a true athletics transition."

Burton, who has been working with Ahye this season, is making her World Athletics Championship coaching debut. The former sprinter said the assignment is a major career milestone.

"It means a lot. I've been working hard over the years, and I've been on junior teams before. I'm really grateful for this opportunity, grateful for the trust placed in me by the association (NAAATT) and the athletes I'm working with currently."

Burton, who is also a highly respected strength and conditioning coach, said her Budapest 23 appointment has special significance.

"For a long time there's been a lack of female coaches on the scene in Trinidad and Tobago for track and field. I really hope that in some way more doors can be opened for them and more females make the transition from athletes into coaches."

TTO COACH: Antonia Burton