THE year 2021 continued to be a challenging year for national athletes with events being postponed or cancelled because of the covid19 pandemic. TT athletes are hoping for a brighter 2022 with one challenging the Government to create safe zone sporting events.
Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe commended the effort of national athletes in 2021, which was another year of obstacles.
Speaking at the 27th TT Olympic Committee Annual Awards ceremony on Wednesday, Cudjoe reflected on the year for TT athletes.
“It has been a rough year but tonight we are all here, not only celebrating life but celebrating our accomplishments and our journey,” Cudjoe said.
“Therefore, it is safe to say we have made it. Tonight we are in the presence of excellence, surrounded by stars and dwarfed by giants who dared to chase their dreams relentlessly, even against the backdrop of a pandemic.”
Sporting events locally have been few and far between since March 2020 because of the pandemic.
TT athletes, including track and field athletes, had to travel overseas to seek regular competition.
However, some effort was made to give track and field athletes the opportunity to compete locally.
Most sports in TT are still at a standstill with the exception of a few sports. Sports like golf and tennis have been played often during the pandemic.
Team and contact sports have been on the sidelines with a few exceptions. In August/September 2020, the Hero Caribbean Premier League T20 tournament was held in TT.
The Government also allowed the TT women’s football team to play two international friendlies against Panama at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, in October.
Jason Costelloe, a multiple national triathlon champion, said, “It is really hard to see absolutely no sporting events happening in TT to be honest, nothing locally.”
He said a lack of events can affect athletes psychologically.
“That is a true mental test for all the local athletes, young or old. That’s a big challenge and I believe there are so many ways to host safe functions and events.”
Costelloe said in triathlon the event could be structured in a way to make it as safe as possible.
Costelloe, who has been raising funds for people during the pandemic, said, “I do believe there are so many ways to host safe functions and events…you could have different check in times, different start times. It can be done.”
Costelloe wants TT to “take on this challenge,” but believes it will be a slow year for local sport in 2022.
“Safe zones” have opened up in recent months locally where only vaccinated people can attend including gyms.
Accessing training facilities to train has been challenging for athletes.
Cudjoe thanked the athletes for their dedication.
“You have overcome many hurdles this year, as you had to devise creative ways to keep fit and stay on top of your game. You had to dig deeper, to find the mental fortitude to continue training and to withstand tremendous psychological stress.”
Cudjoe has repeatedly said over the last few months that once vaccination numbers in TT increase it is possible more sports will return to action.
Cudjoe said more perseverance is needed in 2022. “It has been a rough year indeed, but we've made it. We therefore look forward to the New Year, facing the new chapter wiser, stronger, more willing to work, more focused on the fight and more ready to win.”
National track and field athlete Kyle Greaux, who represented TT in the 200-metre event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this year, is calling on the TT public to not rush into a live of normalcy.
Greaux said, “As we head into a new year I urge our citizens to have a little more patience. Not everything is about self and going out, socialising and partying. Safety should be a priority for all of us because people losing their lives. I feel like at this point in time we all have lost someone. It might not be a close friend or family member, but we know someone that died from covid.”