THE National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) will not send a Trinidad and Tobago track team to the 2021 World Athletics Relays in Poland on May 1 and 2 because of the covid19 pandemic.
An NAAA media release on Wednesday said, “It is with regret that NAAA announces that it is withdrawing its team to compete at the 2021 World Athletics Relays, to be held in Poland on May 1 and 2. This decision has not been taken lightly but after careful consideration of the various challenges posed by the covid19 pandemic, the potential risk to participants and the significant difficulties with travel arrangements (NAAA decided it was best). NAAA is particularly concerned over the welfare of our athletes.”
TT athletes have performed admirably at the event. “TT has enjoyed considerable success at the relays and is the defending champion in the men’s 4x400m event.”
At the 2019 World Relays in Yokohama, Japan the quartet of Deon Lendore, Asa Guevara, Jereem Richards and Machel Cedenio won gold.
The NAAA wanted to have two teams represent TT at the 2021 World Relays.
“Preliminary arrangements were made to enter a men’s 4x200m and a men’s 4x100m team. In the case of the latter, participation was seen as a means to qualify for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The top eight teams at the relays automatically qualify for the Olympics. In light of this, NAAA will now have to explore other options to have the men’s 4x100m team qualify.”
The Olympics are scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8.
In an interview with Newsday, Richards said, "I think it had to be something that was well thought out in terms of the feasibility of the travel. I know a lot of other countries have released their teams and had to pull it back." Jamaica and the USA, two powerhouse countries in track and field, have also decided to withdraw from the World Relays.
Richards, who is based in Florida, is hoping the TT men's 4x100m team will be able to earn qualification for the Olympics. "It was really challenging for most countries to go and TT fell into that category...going forward I hope we are able to qualify the men's 4x1 team because I know that was one of our biggest (aims)...I believe there would be a lot of different options for us to go where we could qualify the team." Richards said there are meets in the US leading up to the Olympics where TT can qualify. The TT men's 4x400m and the women's 4x100m teams have already qualified for the Olympics.
The TT 4x100m team that was scheduled to compete at the World Relays included Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender, Jerod Elcock, Kyle Greaux, Deon Lendore, Andre Marcano and Richards. The 4x200m team included Callender, Machel Cedenio, Elcock, Greaux, Lendore and Richards.
On not competing with his TT teammates, Richards said, "It is definitely disappointing that we were not able to go out there and compete, but you have to have a level of understanding going forward. It is not a normal situation that we are in right now."
Richards said he understands the decision made by the NAAA.