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Quartermiler Machel Cedenio has expressed shock having been named as the T&T Olympic Committee’s (TTOC) choice for Sportsman of the Year 2015.

The honour was bestowed upon the 20-year-old at the 18th Annual Awards Ceremony held at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Port-of-Spain, on Tuesday.

The 400-metre sprint specialist left an indelible mark at the Pan American Games held in Toronto, Canada, last year, at which he clinched a personal silver and then anchored T&T to a team gold in the 4x4 relay run. His team-mates then were Jarrin Solomon, Lalonde Gordon and Renny Quow.

At the Diamond League in Stockholm, gold was naturally his preferred colour when it came to precious metal in the 400m. “Sportsman of the Year 2015! It’s a dream come through,” he told the T&T Guardian.

“As a kid growing up, I would be coming to the same awards and winning the Junior Sportsman of Year Award and I would be watching. This is my first year as a senior athlete. I have transitioned from junior to a senior athlete. Now it is really amazing to make the transition being the best as a junior, (and) now I’m the best as a senior for the year. So I thank God for that. I thank the TTOC for recognising and and honouring me with the award.” he explained.

He continued: “It’s a really good feeling. My parents pushed me throughout the year and my coach Lance Brauman out in Orlando, Florida, USA. It’s a really good feeling to be here today.”

Cedenio, the only boy of children added, “I love running the 400m. When I first started track and field my events were the 100m and 200m. I loved the 100 and 200 metres events, but for some reason those two distances did not like me because I always got injured. My coach suggested that I should try the 400. I was like 15.

Immediately, I moved to a new club - Quantum (Quantum Track and Field Academy). We tried it, but I wasn’t the best, but I was doing better. It was easier on my body because I’m tall. It’s hard for a tall guy to sprint, except for Usain Bolt. He has broken all the laws of track and field. We focused on the 400 for a couple more years and that’s why I am where I am today.”

Cedenio, a resident of Cocoyea Village, San Fernando, showered praise on his sisters for the love and attention they continued to shower onto him and the quality advice they are always present to offer. Together with his parents Diane and Hayden, they attend all his meets locally and the’re looking forwrad to be part of the bandwagon in Rio for the Olympic Games 2016 to continue his biggest and loudest supporters.

“I really love all my sisters, who are very protective of him and very picky about my girl,” he pointed out, chuckling. Looking back at his 2015 season, the Simplex athlete revealed: “Nothing goes as planned. What obstacles are in front of you, you try to overcome them by taking life step by step. I try to get better every day. You have to learn to adjust.”

As far adversity and some of his challenges, he said: “I experienced a lot of injuries this year (2015), but I overcame them and managed to bounce back to be better than I was before. Nothing goes as planned. You just have to work around it.” He believed competing in the Pan American Games in 2015 in the 4 x 4 metres relay event proved the most challenging contest last season and declared the result as the biggest surprise after winning the gold medal.

Cedenio vividly recalled the events on that fateful day. Reliving the moment, he could see the athlete in the lead far ahead, but could hear the rallying call of the T&T supporters, too. As his countrymen sang a chorus around his name, Cedenio was spurred on to win. To this day, he was convinced that was the critical element that led the team to victory.

“It was a motivated race. It made T&T see what I am capable of and it helped me to know that my country is supporting me and to know I can do great things,” he said.

Cedenio was happy to be home for the holidays having been engaged in intense training over the past two months at the Adidas camp in Orlando, Florida.

“Besides life, this is one of the best being named the Sportsman of the Year by the TTOC. It’s my best Christmas gifts I could say for a while.”, he concluded.

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