WHAT a race! Impressive for so many reasons. Firstly, for the steely determination of all the runners: Deon Lendore, Jereem Richards, Asa Guevara, and Machel Cedenio. Secondly, the teamwork and technical strength. Thirdly, the resilience shown by runners who made up for shortcomings of others. And fourthly, for the sheer Herculean effort of the anchor Cedenio. His finishing leg was a thing of beauty, a reminder of the capacity of sport to make your pores rise.
We hail the accomplishment of Cedenio and the entire team. That the victory came ahead of the US team was a mark of the accomplishment, even if the performance of the US – which has a long history of being disqualified from this exact race – was eventually forfeited.
But we also congratulate our neighbour and all-round sprinting powerhouse Jamaica on their second-place finish. This was a race that showcased the talents of our region at a time when simmering tensions perpetually threaten to boil over among us. The police raid of Buju Banton’s hotel room and the subsequent response of Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith was a reminder of that.
We call on the State to properly reward the team. This should be done not only through one-off gifts but a deepening of institutional measures to support our local talent. This means streamlining measures to scout and nurture talent, rigorous enforcement of sporting statutes such as those relating to anti-doping, and efficient funding and support to ensure the best levels of training and our athlete’s well-being. There should also be standards that can be applied for every instance of sporting excellence to have consistency when it comes to rewarding our heroes.
But the State must also acknowledge that this race was perhaps unlike any other in our country’s history. It demonstrated a degree of tenacity and grit which is rare to behold, whether in athletics or any other sport for that matter. For most of the race, TT trailed. Sometimes we ran ahead then fell behind.
Strategically, runners know they should reserve their best for the finish and this may well account for our lagging behind most of the race. Equally, it is clear that some of the legs were run by runners more comfortable running 200 metres and who clearly faded after that mark was passed.
So that when the time came for Cedenio to finish the odds seemed stacked against him, even factoring a last-minute surge.
Yet, here was an athlete who was steadfast, who did not give up. His stunned expression after crossing the finishing line, as he lay on the floor speechless and almost unable to move, tells the story of how even he was blown away by what he could achieve and did achieve in one of the finest moments of our long and storied tradition of track and field excellence.