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Commonwealth 800 metres silver medallist succumbs to cancer

Olympian Benedict “The Rolls Royce” Cayenne has passed away.

Cayenne, who represented Trinidad and Tobago with distinction at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico, died on Saturday in the United States, losing his battle with cancer. The University of Maryland graduate was 70.

At the ‘68 Games, Cayenne advanced all the way to the men’s 800 metres final. He returned a time of one minute, 48.2 seconds to finish second in his first round heat. The Barrackpore-born half-miler clocked 1:46.8 for fourth spot in the opening semifinal. And in the championship race, he finished eighth in 1:54.3.

Cayenne’s close friend and Olympic teammate, Edwin Roberts remembers Cayenne’s battle with the high altitude of Mexico City.

“Benedict was always a great runner,” Roberts tells the Express. “He was very surprising when he went to the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. In the first round, when he finished, he fell down, and the guy came down and gave him oxygen. The second round, they came out and gave him oxygen. The third round, which was the final, they ran out there, but Benedict stood up. He didn’t have to get oxygen.”

In 1968, Cayenne became the first T&T athlete to reach an Olympic Games 800m final. No one has yet matched the feat.

Also in Mexico City, George Simon, Euric Bobb, Cayenne and Roberts combined for sixth spot in the men’s 4x400m relay.

Cayenne’s greatest achievement came at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland. He became T&T’s first Commonwealth Games 800m medallist, earning silver in 1:47.42. Again, this feat is still unmatched.

At the same Games, Melville Wong Shing, Cayenne, Kent Bernard and Roberts teamed up for 4x400m silver.

“The best race Benedict ran,” says Roberts, “is when he was in Edinburgh for the Commonwealth Games. He did very well there. He ran a very smart race – in the 800 and the 4x4.”

Cayenne also earned precious metal at the 1966 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He bagged bronze in the men’s 800m, and was part of the T&T team that secured 4x400m silver.

“Sad to say,” Roberts laments, “we will miss a great person. He got along very, very well with the athletes, and has lived a good life. He travelled with me all over Europe – Germany, France, Italy, Sweden... he used to go all over and run. Benedict’s career was a great career.”

In his younger days, Cayenne served T&T as a member of the police service.

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