NATIONAL sprinter and double Olympic medallist Emmanuel Callender is concerned over the future of TT track and field and is holding the authorities accountable for the state of the sport locally.
The 35-year-old Callender is part of the national 4x100-metre relay team, along with Marc Burns, Aaron Armstrong, Keston Bledman and Richard Thompson, who are expected to receive their medals at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
TT’s second-place finish, with a time of 38.06 seconds, was upgraded to gold, by the IAAF, after Jamaica’s Nesta Carter (a member of their quartet), failed a doping test.
The 35-year-old Callender was part of the TT 4x100m teams who got silver at both the 2012 London Olympics and the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany.
The 2017 national 100m champ has personal times of 10.05 (100m) and 20.40 (200m), both were set in 2009.
In the first part of an interview,at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima yesterday, Callender spoke about his thoughts on TT track and field and his career thus far.
JOEL BAILEY (JB): Do you have any plans for the 2019 season?
EMMANUEL CALLENDER (EC): My plan for the 2019 season is to try to win every race. That is why we train hard most of the year, for a race that takes a few seconds. The reality is somebody will beat you at some point, even (Usain) Bolt, so it’s not just about winning, it’s how you compete to win. In order to achieve this, I look at off-the-track responsibilities as well as government, sponsors, fans and persons needing inspirations. I will use this momentum, of this year, to compete at next year’s Japan Olympics where I plan to retire.
JB: I know that you have a strong belief in God.
EC: I’ve never competed at the junior level. When I started track and field, a lot of people told me I was too old (age 21). I always believed that I had the ability and God would have done something good for me at (any) point in time. I always trust and held on to God.
JB: How do you see the future of TT track and field, especially sprinting? Who are the ones you see taking over when you step aside?
EC: First of all, the future has never been bright from the get-go. The history would show how athletes struggled to get somewhere, before and after the sport. ‘The sky is the limit’ does not apply to TT. Some people do their best to keep the sky dark and ride the bandwagon of one star, when he/she emerges. They are not concerned (about) other developing stars. It is a fact, I know what I’m saying. I speak to a lot of athletes, or a lot of athletes come to speak to me.
The younger athletes’ mentality is to perpetuate this cycle of hatred by helping to tear down aspirations of others who are doing well, just to be the one star. Look at what’s happening with crime. It’s the same thing with sport. Look at how may sporting bodies right now are in court. That speaks for itself. How do I see the future of track and field? It’s not looking like a good one. I think there needs to be a lot of changes, I believe, at the administrative level.
I think that there are some people who just really are not concerned about you. They speak it but they’re not really manifesting what they are speaking about. I came into the sport, hoping to be a change and an inspiration to others, by the gift that God has given me. I know, in life, there are struggles you would face, but when you see your own trying to tear you down, that is something (else). It’s just really sad.