WADE FRANKLYN is half of the legendary Franklyn brothers who are the signature men behind the Zenith Athletic Club.
Ten years as an athlete and 35 years plus as an iconic coach, has this great son of soil received his due recognition?
Franklyn's transition into one of the Caribbean’s most successful coaches has its roots at the Mason Hall Recreation Field where along with his brother Gerard and other villagers, started the Zenith Athletic Club in 1980.
Franklyn entered track and field as a promising sprinter but soon found his niche in the highly technical and strength-related areas of javelin, discus and shot put.
In the era of the National Youth Track and Field Games, Franklyn represented Tobago five times from 1981 to 1986 and, on each occasion, he left Trinidad with the MVP Trophy in the field events.
As Franklyn recalls, in those days when he showed up for the games, the conversation among his competitors was who will occupy the second position.
Franklyn’s dedication to track and field has brought many rewards to his personal life.
In his capacity as national coach, Franklyn has visited countries such as England, Dubai, China, Brazil, Finland, Ukraine and Puerto Rico along with a host of Caribbean islands.
He also has the satisfaction of seeing many of his athletes attained overseas scholarships, prestigious awards, national records, as well as excel at national, regional and international championships and enjoy fruitful careers beyond the track.
Among his more accomplished success stories are Akeem Stewart, Kerry Edwards and Rhonda Hackett.
Edwards holds a special significance as being Franklyn’s first medallist at a regional games when he won the gold medal in the under-17 javelin at the 1993 Carifta Games in Guadeloupe.
Hackett was a double gold medallist in the shot put and discus events at the 1995 Carifta Games in Bahamas.
Stewart, a Paralympic gold medallist and world record holder in the F-43 class, discus and javelin, has become a star.
He was awarded a Humming Bird Gold medal at the National Awards in 2017, and was also the recipient of a Sports Personality Award from the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) in 2015.
Stewart was also honoured as the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) male athlete of the year in 2016.
Franklyn currently has four athletes attending universities in the United States.
The list is headlined by Tyriq Horsford, who attends the Mississippi State University and is also a five-time Carifta gold medallist and record holder in the javelin.
Horsford recently won the gold medal in the under-23 javelin event at the North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Track and Field Championships held earlier in July.
Former Carifta silver medallist Kymoi Noray is a student at Jackson State University.
Asha James, who copped the THA Sportswoman of the Year award on two occasions, is currently pursuing her studies at West Texas A&M University.
James is also the national Under-18 girls javelin record holder and the winner of several bronze medals at Carifta level.
National under-20 javelin record holder Talena Murray, who represented Trinidad and Tobago at the World Under-20 Athletic Championships in 2018 and is also a former Carifta gold medallist, is a sophomore at Angelo State University.
Other Carifta gold medallists under Franklyn's stewardships includes Latoya Baird, Vaeyon Joseph, Shervorne Worrel and Emmanuel Stewart.
Franklyn said he has received numerous coaching offers from Canada and other Caribbean countries but has declined in favour of remaining a patriot to his country.
Franklyn, who is employed in the THA Sports Division as a coach, has won the Coach of the Year honours at the THA Sports Award on seven occasions.
His certificates includes competency in administration, psychology, sports medicine, multi events and weightlifting.
Franklyn is also the only International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) level-4 certified coach on the island.
When asked about the current state of athletics in Tobago, Franklyn, popularly known as "Baby," was visibly upset.
He said some of the coaches are not concentrating on developing athletes but prefer fame through poaching promising athletes from other clubs.
He said their tactics include ill-speaking other coaches and offering various forms of enticements which has led to the destruction of many young careers.
On a positive note, Franklyn said that he is thankful that his club has helped many Tobagonians reach their potential in the sport.
He mentioned past Olympians Renny Quow, Melville Nero and Sherridan Kirk; veteran Olympians Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Semoy Hackett; an debutants Dwight St Hillare, Akani Hislop, Andwelle Wright and Ayla Stanisclaus, as products of Zenith.