A mini Carnival at the Hasely Crawford Stadium here in Port of Spain, yesterday, ushered in the seventh Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG).
In addition to many elements of the host nation's Carnival celebrations, including the iconic Peter Minhsall creations Tan Tan and Saga Boy, the opening ceremony featured a Trinidad and Tobago history lesson. The colourful, multi-cultural show prompted Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Dame Louis Martin to declare that T&T had staged the best a notable CYG opening.
"I must say that was one of the best opening ceremonies I have ever seen, so well done," she said."
Dame Louis told the audience: Thank you for hosting us and for everything you have done to get us here. Thank you also for the leadership you have shown in timing and focussing these Games and indeed this ceremony around Emancipation Day.
"We share your belief that through these Games, we can unlock our future potential and acknowledge the wrongs of the past."
Turning her attention to the athletes she said: "Most of all, I hope you seize the moment and enjoy this carnival in the Caribbean."
Recounting her own experience as a 16-year-old participant at the Commonwealth Games she said: "My advice to you is believe, perform and enjoy the moment. Next week we will look on with excitement and pride as we watch and support you."
Her Excellency, President Christine Kangaloo was given the responsibility of officially opening CYG 2023. Minister of Sport and Community Development, Shamfa Cudjoe also spoke at the Carnival-style ceremony.
The minister said: "We bask in the glory of creating history. She also noted that, "this is the first time our country has been granted the opportunity to host an international multi-sport event; the first time the Commonwealth Youth Games are being staged in the Caribbean; the first time para athletics (is) being introduced to the sport programme and the first time that these Games are being held in two separate islands."
Nikoli Blackman and Janae De Gannes shared flag-bearer duties for Team TTO, carrying the Red, White and Black with pride and exuberance.
Blackman is one of just two swimmers listed for national duty at the August 4-11 Games. Blackman earned two medals at the 2023 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in El Salvador - men's 200 metres freestyle silver and 4x100 free bronze with Graham Chatoor, Dylan Carter and Zarek Wilson. Wilson is the other Team TTO swimmer selected for CYG 2023.
The swimming events will be contested at the National Aquatics Centre, in Couva, starting tomorrow. Rugby sevens and triathlon also get going tomorrow. They will both be contested in Tobago, along with fast5 netball, which starts on Tuesday, and beach volleyball, which serves off today.
The Team TTO men's beach volleyball team face Sri Lanka at 3.30pm at the Black Rock Facility. The TTO women's beach volleyballers tackle Bermuda from 5.10pm.
Road cycling also gets going today with the women's individual time trial, scheduled to start at 9am at the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium, in Tarouba. The men's individual time trial takes place from 11. Track cycling will be staged at the National Cycling Centre, in Couva, starting on Tuesday.
Athletics and para athletics will take centre stage on Monday, at the Crawford Stadium.
De Gannes is expected to be a medal contender in the women's long jump. At the recent North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) U23 and U18 Championships, in Costa Rica, De Gannes captured the girls' under-18 title with a 6.11 metres leap - a new Championship record.
Another T&T athlete, Imanni Matthew struck gold in the boys' under-18 long jump with a 7.71m effort, breaking the Championship record as well as the T&T under-18 record.
Matthew featured at yesterday's opening ceremony. The Tobago long jumper and track cyclist Alexia Wilson took the athletes' pledge together. Area International Photo Finish Judge, Michelle Stoute-Lopez took the officials' pledge.