TEHILLAH FRANCOIS of Golden Lane, will represent Trinidad and Tobago, at the North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Age Group Championships, in Nicaragua, on December 17 and 18.
The 12-year-old Francois won the Under-13 female pentathlon, at the National Association of Athletic Administration (NAAA) national trials, at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet, on November 20 and 21.
Francois was the only Tobago athlete to win an age group category.
At the trials, Francois amassed 25,83 points over the five events, which was 279 points more than her nearest rival.
She won the 60 metres sprint in a time of 8.31 seconds, the ball throw with a distance of 37.45 metres, and the 800 metres, where she recorded a time of two minutes 43.66 seconds.
Francois placed second in the high jump and long jump events. She cleared 1.35 metres in the high jump, and reached a distance of 4.09 metres in the long jump.
Francois said that she had no expectations entering the competition, but her approach changed, after winning the first preparation meet, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, in Mucurapo, in October.
“Our coach always tell us to do our best, so I had no expectations, but when I won the first meet in Trinidad, my mindset changed, and I was motivated to win at the trials, because I wanted to go Nicaragua,” she said.
Francois, who has been a member of Mason Hall Police Youth Club for three years, said that she is elated for the opportunity to travel and represent her country.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to travel,” she said. “It will be my first time leaving the country, so I am counting the days. But I know the most important thing is representing the country, so I will be working hard to bring home a medal.”
Francois identified double Olympic 100 and 200 metres gold medallist, Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica, as her favourite athlete, but her favourite food may not be first choice for the average 12-year-old.
“I like Elaine Thompson because she is competitive, brave and confident. I like to eat curry chicken and rice or dasheen and saltfish,” she said.
Francois continued, “I like sprinting because I think I have the built and power to do well.”
Francois' response was no surprise, as her favourite event in the pentathlon is the 60 metres sprint.
Assistant coach of the Club, Volris Campbell, said that the members were proud of Francois' achievement, and it will serve as an inspiration for the other athletes.
“We are very proud of Tehillah, she worked hard for her success and we wish her the best in Nicaragua," Campbell said. "Her accomplishment will act as a motivation for the others to follow.”
Campbell said Francois' final preparation before the Championships will be concentrated on strength and speed development.
"In the short time remaining, we will focus on her strength and speed conditioning, which was vital in her improvement throughout the three meets," Campbell noted.
When contacted for a comment, Francois grandmother, Erica Williams was high in praise for her granddaughter and coaches.
“I am very proud of my granddaughter, is not everyone can say that they represented their country. She loves the sport and we will like to thank the coaches for their patience in maintaining her focus," Williams said.
The contingent of eight athletes and their management team is set to leave for Nicaragua on December 15.