Diane Henderson: Jr Pan Ams crucial for event-starved youth athletes

Diane Henderson, centre,  with two national athletes.
Diane Henderson, centre, with two national athletes.

CHEF DE MISSION for the national Junior Pan American Games contingent Diane Henderson applauded TT’s brazen performances at the inaugural event which concluded in Cali, Colombia on Sunday.

A total of 23 athletes and 17 officials made the trip which served as a fitting platform for the nation’s rising athletes to return to competition after almost two years of inactivity.

Two athletes finished among the medals as Kelsey Daniel earned silver in the men’s long jump and Tyriq Horsford bronze in the men’s javelin. Both are Tobagonians.

With a plethora of covid19 protocols, Henderson said the team coped well and credited the contingent for braving the pandemic circumstances to represent their country.

TT was featured in track and field, 3x3 basketball, boxing, canoe, cycling, swimming and triathlon.

“Covid19 posed no minimum of challenges in managing the delegation in a diverse hotel setting.

“Both athletes and officials are to be commended for their resilience in maintaining focus and restraint in these times of pandemic and a vast amount of protocols to adhere to.

“We thank the officials for their sustained support throughout the games,” she said.

Henderson added that although the event did pose certain challenges, the lack of prior competition for this particular age group of athletes, served as the unit’s biggest motivator to go out and perform.

“The development and institution of these games has its purpose; and that is Under-23 athletes. It was clear that the games filled a void for this very fragile age group, providing a platform for young men and women to see their potential and sharpen their craft,” she said.

The TTOC official pointed out that the athletes’ long-awaited chance to go out and compete helped reinvigorate their competitive spirit and provided them with an opportunity to put forward their best efforts and shine in some instances.

There were several personal best performances from the six-member swimming contingent while three of the four junior cyclists and the men’s 3x3 basketball team got their first taste of international competition.

“The swimmers recorded best times, and record performances in Graham Chatoor. The cyclists saw doors open, and what was not expected, were the performances of the 3x3 basketball men.

“They rose to the occasion and performed against pro athletes and in turn, realised their own abilities in finishing eighth overall and fourth for Ahkeel Boyd in the 3x3 shootout, just short of the podium,” Henderson said.

She also highlighted Daniel and Horsford’s podium performances and believes this first-time event served as a good gauge for the young athletes to assess and evaluate themselves moving forward.

“Dreams are not reached at one games so all these athletes’ commendable performances give them a future to look forward to, and insight into their competition and knowledge of areas for improvement.

“TT are on good footing but with a lot of work to accomplish if we are to ensure continuity at big games. Given the period of closure for sport and most of these athletes stationed in the country, we are extremely proud of their performances,” Henderson closed.


"Diane Henderson: Jr Pan Ams crucial for event-starved youth athletes"

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