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July 10, 2020

SIGA CREATES TASK FORCE ON RACE, GENDER, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION

Following the successful SIGA-Soccerex Webinar on the topic, “Football For All,” the Sport Integrity Global…
July 09, 2020

Lewis: Reinstate Munich Games 400m medallists Matthews, Collett

Caribbean National Olympic Committees (CANOC) president Brian Lewis is calling for the rescinding of a…
July 07, 2020

A sports-base approach is needed to help the youth

Last week, Trinidad and Tobago faced its own Black Lives Matter (BLM) day of reckoning.…
July 07, 2020

CANOC President calls for IOC to rescind life bans issued to athletes 48 years after…

Caribbean National Olympic Committees (CANOC) President Brian Lewis has called for the International Olympic Committee…
July 04, 2020

Matthews and Collett Banned From Olympics

MUNICH, West Germany, Sept. 8 — The International Olympic Committee barred today two United States…
July 04, 2020

Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett: A Most Casual Protest With Most Striking Consequences

They stood there casually, one barefoot, hands on hips, the other in thoughtful repose, right…
July 04, 2020

Athletes Will Be Banned From Protesting at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But the Games Have…

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced new guidelines on Thursday that ban athletes from making…

Tokyo 2021 #1YearToGo

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Team Elite Suits Up for Friday Afternoon Time Trial in San Diego https://t.co/0AUQ471VQK via @swimswamnews
Thursday, 09 July 2020 23:18
TeamTTO Transformational Leadership Webinar Pt. 3 with the lecturer Sport Management, UTT Mr. Stacey Cateau ▶️… https://t.co/MKYVbDMBEA
Thursday, 09 July 2020 15:28
Lewis: Reinstate Munich Games 400m medallists Matthews, Collett https://t.co/XPaRfGugLX
Thursday, 09 July 2020 14:20
A sports-base approach is needed to help the youth https://t.co/jPhFCNcTH0
Wednesday, 08 July 2020 19:07

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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

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“To be hon­est, I still don’t have the emo­tion that every­one would ex­pect. I guess this is just me not get­ting car­ried away and try­ing to stay fo­cused and just work­ing to­wards com­pet­ing next year.”

That was Te­niel Camp­bell’s re­sponse mere days af­ter of­fi­cial­ly qual­i­fy­ing for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Her head is still on her shoul­ders and her feet on the ground as op­posed to be­ing on cloud nine.

She sat down for an in­ter­view with the Sun­day Guardian at her man­ag­er Desmond Roberts’ St Au­gus­tine home last week.

Iron­i­cal­ly, it was the same place where her jour­ney to the Olympics be­gan al­most two years to the day. She re­called how they stayed up past 1 am the night be­fore they trav­elled ser­vic­ing her bike in the small gym be­hind Roberts’ house. That she would qual­i­fy for an Olympic Games two years lat­er was a shad­ow of a thought then.

How­ev­er, Mar­tinique ped­alled off the process. At the Elite Women’s Caribbean Road Cy­cling Cham­pi­onships, she won dou­ble gold in the in­di­vid­ual time tri­al and women’s road race.

“That was just my gold­en op­por­tu­ni­ty,” she re­called.

In­deed it was be­cause four months lat­er, in Feb­ru­ary 2018, Camp­bell was se­lect­ed for a high-lev­el train­ing camp at the In­ter­na­tion­al Cy­cling Union’s (UCI) World Cy­cling Cen­tre (WCC) in Switzer­land.

Now just 22 years, she’s be­come the first-ever fe­male cy­clist from the Eng­lish-speak­ing Caribbean to have qual­i­fied for an Olympics. She ad­mits the suc­cess in such a short pe­ri­od is hard to fath­om.

“It was just two years ago this jour­ney start­ed so it’s a re­al­ly short space of time to ac­com­plish this. I guess this shows how ded­i­cat­ed I am to my craft and that once I put my mind to some­thing I’m just that com­mit­ted and I’m go­ing to go af­ter it and achieve it,” she told the Sun­day Guardian.

Hav­ing com­plet­ed her stint at the WCC, she’ll ride right in­to Ital­ian club Val­car Cy­lance’s unit as the team’s first-ever in­ter­na­tion­al sign­ing. They’re a pro­fes­sion­al women’s cy­cling club found­ed two years ago.

“I know it’s go­ing to be com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent,” the road cy­clist said as she pre­pares for her switch and ex­po­sure to a new cul­ture and way of do­ing things. She said she ex­pects life in Italy at her new club will be vast­ly dif­fer­ent from that of Switzer­land.

“At the UCI Cen­tre they take care of you. They pre­pare the meals and every­thing. We all stay to­geth­er in a house. With this new Ital­ian team, I have to cook for my­self...” Camp­bell joked.

She added: “It’s go­ing to be com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent and a brand new lifestyle for me but I’m look­ing for­ward to it.”

The in­ter­na­tion­al rep­u­ta­tion she’s cre­at­ed for her­self has al­ready cre­at­ed some ear­ly hype in Italy.

She ex­plained: “From what I’ve heard they’re talk­ing about me a lot across there, so it’s just ex­cite­ment from both sides and I’m look­ing for­ward to work­ing to­geth­er and see­ing how much suc­cess we can get next year as a unit and how well we mesh to­geth­er as a team.”

But Camp­bell is very cau­tious in how she at­trib­ut­es her suc­cess.

“This is not a one-man show,” she made clear dur­ing the in­ter­view.

It is as much an ac­com­plish­ment for man­ag­er Roberts as it is for her.

“He be­lieved in me when no one else did and he took the ini­tia­tives to dig in his own pock­et if he had to fund some­thing for me and that was re­al­ly gen­uine and nice to ac­tu­al­ly meet that type of per­son at such a young age in my sport­ing ca­reer,” she said of him.

Roberts was part of a small, core group that kept Camp­bell on course to her goal, men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly.

Told that there were head­lines now but that there may have been a time when peo­ple didn’t be­lieve she could achieve any­thing in cy­cling, Camp­bell’s de­meanour in the in­ter­view changed.

She be­gan look­ing away to hide a drop of tear run­ning down the right side of her cheek. One drop turned to two and then her eyes filled with wa­ter.

“It’s kind of fun­ny be­cause now it’s the same peo­ple com­ing to try to talk to me or get on to me. That’s a scary feel­ing for me be­cause you don’t know who is com­ing to you gen­uine right now,” she said, push­ing up the glass­es on her fore­head to wipe her now tear­ful eyes.

“Know­ing the things that I went through to get to where I am to­day, I know it brings a lot of tears to my fam­i­ly’s eyes and every­one who sup­port­ed me. When I wasn’t any­thing, they saw some­thing... from the be­gin­ning so I hope to make every­one proud,” she said with a loud sigh.

One of the peo­ple very proud of her is her moth­er Eu­phemia Hug­gins, the 1989 Sports­woman of the Year who played bas­ket­ball and net­ball for Trinidad and To­ba­go.

“She’s re­al­ly hap­py, be­ing an ath­lete her­self, this be­ing the on­ly games she nev­er qual­i­fied for, so I hope that she will be there with me in Tokyo and can live that dream through her daugh­ter.”

Her broth­er Ak­il Camp­bell, who is al­so a na­tion­al cy­clist, is part of “the core sup­port” Camp­bell wants with her in Tokyo.

This is a jour­ney that could have eas­i­ly been de­railed had it not been for Camp­bell’s de­ter­mi­na­tion and brav­ery. She re­flect­ed on how her re­turn to cy­cling in form five raised se­ri­ous con­cerns from her teach­ers.

“I re­mem­ber lead­ing up to CXC, I had just got­ten back in­to cy­cling and I was do­ing sci­ences and some teach­ers were like ‘what are you do­ing?’ I knew I could jug­gle the both and I passed all eight sub­jects with ones and twos and then I went on to do CAPE. I still kept do­ing cy­cling and kept im­prov­ing in the sport,” she re­called.

Now as she adapts to the ever-chang­ing life abroad in the var­i­ous cities she vis­its, that ex­pe­ri­ence in school taught her a valu­able les­son.

“I think for me, be­ing in school and still be­ing able to do good in sport is good at a young age be­cause it teach­es you a lot of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties be­cause if you ask all my teach­ers, I was nev­er re­al­ly one to sleep in class,” she said as she gig­gled.

For Camp­bell, it’s a com­plete­ly new ex­pe­ri­ence now. Every­one wants part of her, even those who didn’t want to fund her when it seemed she wasn’t des­tined for much.

“I know it (spon­sor­ship) didn’t start at the ear­ly stages and it’s now com­ing but it’s not some­thing that I re­al­ly try to take on cause it’s not good as an ath­lete. Your fo­cus is just sup­posed to be on train­ing and us­ing the tools you have to con­tin­ue de­vel­op­ing and when the time is right, every­thing will just start falling in­to place,” she said.

 

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