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N Touch
Friday 15 December 2017
Letters to the Editor

Our long history, world record in the mile relay

THE EDITOR: The first Olympic Games I was old enough to remember was the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the fourth in which TT participated.

It’s emblazoned in my memory that Wendell Mottley won silver in the 400 metres, Edwin Roberts (perhaps the athlete with the biggest heart ever to represent TT) won bronze in the 200 metres, and the team of Edwin Skinner, Kent Bernard, Roberts and Mottley won bronze in the 4x400-metres relay (many still refer to it as the “mile relay” even though it’s about 9.3 metres less than a mile).

Fast forward to 2017, and we have the quartet of Jarrin Solomon, Jereem Richards, Machel Cedenio and Lalonde Gordon winning gold at the World Championships in London. In 2015, Cedenio with “an incredible sprint kick down the straight” saw us take gold in the 4x400 at the Toronto Pan Am Games. His teammates were Renny Quow, Solomon and Emanuel Mayers.

But I suspect that not many would remember that TT broke (and still holds) the world record for the actual one-mile relay (4x440 yards) at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica.

The TT team comprised Lennox Yearwood, Bernard, Roberts and Mottley (running in that order). In the individual quarter-mile run, Mottley had already won gold in a Games record of 45.2 (times were measured to 1 decimal place in those days) and Bernard had taken home silver, so we were favourites to win the relay.

After two legs, and cheered on by the partisan home crowd, the Jamaicans were leading TT. But Roberts ran a magnificent third leg and handed over to Mottley with a significant lead. With that beautiful, effortless, gliding stride, Mottley romped home an easy winner in 3:02.8, smashing the then world record by nearly two seconds. Jamaica faded to fourth.

You can watch the race here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTYCGsTI56g. Or you can just search for “1966 4x440 relay” on YouTube. The commentary begins, “The last track event of these eighth Commonwealth Games ... In lane 7, Trinidad, the favourites ...”

Some time in the 1970s, distances in all international athletics were changed from yards to metres so this world record would stand forever or until there’s a change back to yards (if a movement in the US has its way).

It would also be interesting to compare how much money we spent on the 1964/66 teams and the 2015/17 teams. Even after adjusting for inflation, it should be a lesson to those who believe that throwing money after athletes/problems is the only way to make them better/solve them.

NOEL KALICHARAN

via email

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