TRINIDAD AND Tobago can expect to medal in both track and field events at this month’s Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada. Yesterday, the National Association of Athletic Administrations (NAAA) released the final squad, which includes 20 male and 16 female athletes, as well as nine team officials.
Heading the list of gold medal contenders is Keshorn Walcott; the Olympic Men’s Javelin champion has found form, twice breaking his own national record during at successive Diamond League meets in Europe last month. Neither of the two men who have outdone the Toco-born athlete this year will compete in Toronto, since one hails from Kenya and the other from the Czech Republic. TT’s other outstanding medal hope in field competition is the evergreen Cleopatra Borel, who has also been consistent at her discipline this season.
As always, the red, white and black is expected to feature prominently in the sprints. The loss of three-time Olympic medalist Richard Thompson to injury notwithstanding, the sprint relay team will fancy its chances of mounting the prize rostrum, with Keston Bledman, Rondel Sorillo, Emmanuel Callender and Marcus Duncan among a squad of six registered for the event.
Bledman and Duncan will carry the hopes of TT in the 100 metres, while the Tobago-born duo of Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Semoy Hackett will contest the women’s equivalent.
Baptiste appears to be in excellent shape, destroying the field in the final with a 10.84 second run at last weekend’s National Open Championship, while Bledman’s time of 9.86 in the men’s final underlined the fact that he should not be underestimated in Toronto. Despite the fact that Renny Quow won the 400 metres at the Open, it is the younger Machel Cedenio who has clocked the fastest times this season. They will both contest the Men’s 400 metres and spearhead TT’s bid for precious metal in the mile relay. Jarrin Solomon and Olympic bronze medalist Lalonde Gordon will be the other runners in the relay quartet. The other athletes may not be as well-known internationally, but they will all be striving to ensure that when the games are over, their names will be on the lists of finals, and possibly also on the medals listing.
George Commissiong is the team manager and Ian Hypolite is the head coach. The games will run from July 10-26.