WHEN Keeran Sriskandarajah saw the TT men’s 4x400-metre team bring home gold at the 2017 World Championships in London, he was inspired.
Three years later, Sriskandarajah is one of this country’s promising junior track and field athletes winning a gold medal and a silver medal at the 2022 Carifta Games at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.
The three-day Carifta Games ended, on Monday.
Sriskandarajah was born in England to Sri Lankan Danny Sriskandarajah and Trinidadian Suzanne Lambert.
Speaking with Newsday, on Wednesday, from London, Sriskandarajah said, “This was my first time (representing TT) and it was definitely a big deal because there are so many people in TT who I wanted to make proud.”
Sriskandarajah copped gold in the boys’ Under-17 1,500-metre event and silver in the boys Under-17 800m event.
He had the support of his family in Jamaica as his father, grandfather Nestor Lambert and uncle Christopher Lambert were there with him.
On Saturday’s opening day of the meet, Sriskandarajah dominated his opponents in the 1,500m event. He grabbed gold in four minutes, 10.58 seconds (4:10.58), almost two seconds ahead of second-placed Guyanese Javon Roberts (4:12.54).
On the closing day, Sriskandarajah took silver in the 800m event in 1:58.45 behind Jamaican Ainsley Brown who won gold in 1:58.08.
Asked if he was expecting to earn medals in both events, Sriskandarajah said, “Coming into the 800m I knew it would be a very tough race, so I was happy to come away with a medal, but obviously I would have loved to win but it was a close race and tough competition so it was great to at least medal.”
Explaining why he decided to represent TT, Sriskandarajah said, “I have lots of family there and I have come to Trinidad lots of times, so it is a massive part of my life…definitely wanted to make people proud in TT.”
Danny, who gave more details about his son’s track and field background, said, “He has been doing track and field in the UK now for three seasons and he has been doing well. He is ranked number two in the UK for the 800m.
“Track and field is huge in the Caribbean in a way that it isn’t necessarily in the UK.”
Danny said Keeran’s uncle Christopher Lambert represented TT at the Carifta Games in 1992, grabbing a silver medal in the 100m event.
Danny is elated that his son got the experience to compete at a regional meet. “One of the amazing things about Carifta it’s one of few places where 15-year-olds, like Keeran, can represent their country. In England, you can’t represent England at this stage, so we thought what a wonderful opportunity for him to get out on the international stage like this and especially at Carifta exactly 30 years after his uncle ran.”
Memphis Pioneers coach Dr Ian Hypolite, who has also coached national track and field teams, made the suggestion that Sriskandarajah run for TT a few months ago.
He made the qualification time and the rest is history.
Sriskandarajah said it was an honour to wear TT colours.
“It was definitely the biggest deal so far in my career and I am very happy to be selected and to be considered and thankful as well.” During the final 50 metres of the 800m event, Brown who was in first place at the time taunted Sriskandarajah.
Sriskandarajah tried to stay focused on the race. “Obviously, he’s got the home crowd backing him, but I wasn’t too fazed. I knew I gave it my all, but if anything that has fueled me for the future.”
Sriskandarajah, who has dreams of competing at the Olympics, said TT’s 400m runners have inspired him.
“Obviously watching a lot of the 400m runners from TT like in the 2012 Olympics and the World Championships when they won the 4x400m gold that was one of the most inspiring moments.”
He is hoping one day to motivate others like what TT 400m runners have done for him.
Sriskandarajah, who enjoys his mother’s pelau, felt like part of the TT family in Jamaica and said it was “great to get to know a bunch of new people.”