Straight shooter standing tall

Cpl Roger Daniel  has represented TT as a pistol marksman at the Athens Olympics in 2004, Tokyo 2008 and London 2012. He is aiming for Paris 2024. Photo by Mark Lyndersay
Cpl Roger Daniel has represented TT as a pistol marksman at the Athens Olympics in 2004, Tokyo 2008 and London 2012. He is aiming for Paris 2024. Photo by Mark Lyndersay


My name is Cpl Roger Daniel and I went to the Olympic games three times to represent Trinidad and Tobago as a pistol marksman.

I was born in Fort George, St James but spent the majority of my life in Morvant.

We used to ride trolley coming down from the fort, but boy days was really in Morvant, walk to the Savannah and fly kites.

I come from a big family, maybe some 20-something people.

We don’t get together as often since this covid thing started.

I’m the last of four kids and I have four kids, blessings to me. I always shout them out by name wherever I go to shoot: Christian Daniel; Shaquille Daniel is in the Defence Force; Xavier and my daughter, Kiyomi, six foot tall, two inches shorter than me, the tallest of my children.

As you blink your eye, they grow. By the time you turn around.

I went to Lower Morvant Government Primary, Morvant-Laventille Junior Sec and Malick Senior Comprehensive.

At school, I started track and field and branched to badminton and hockey.

And now I’m shooting.

After what I’ve been through as a police officer, I am definitely a believer in God! At the end of it, don’t matter what you going through, God is there for you.

Death is a constant as a police officer.

Is a lot. Families falling apart.

I was in the military for 22 years, so I had some interaction somewhat, trained to be a soldier.

So death is not something new for me. Incidents where boats blow up, bodies cut in half, you seeing body parts. It prepared for me the challenge of police work. It gave you more face toface.

It’s not an easy thing to see a dead body, somebody shot and bleed out on the ground. But I pray for the strength to keep going.

It’s true that police put their lives on the line as part of the work.

In a situation where I have to walk in somewhere alone, not knowing what will happen, I prep myself for do or die. I am hyped. I tell myself that, if anything should happen, I have to come out on top. I have to protect you all, the public, protect myself and get back home to my family.

No matter what come to me, there can be no failure.

Vigilance is everything in my job.

Cpl Roger Daniel won a silver medal at the Pan American and Commonwealth Games. He was Olympic Sportsman of the Year 2010 and 2011. Photo by Mark Lyndersay

At one time, everywhere you turned in Trinidad, there was a sporting club. Malvern. Casuals. Harvard was big.

Out of school, I joined Essex and they grew me in hockey.

From there I did masonry at Youth Camp and developed a hockey team and we won out everything. And then I went to Paragon and started playing national hockey when I was about 19. I went to the Commonwealth, Carifta and Pan American games, but TT hockey never reached Olympics level. Sadly enough.

But we’re still trying.

I was still playing national hockey when I joined the Defence Force.

I hadn’t had any firearms training at all when, one day, we went on the Trinidad Rifle Association shooting range and a gentleman by the name of deceased Curtis Blunt invited the team to try out for ten-metre air pistol Olympic shooting.

You’re trying to hit a half-centimetre bull ten metres away with a pellet.

A gentleman by the name of deceased Lloyd Henry saw me standing by the door and he invited me to try. I had just turned 31. He said, “You have 90 minutes to shoot 60 shots.”

I was outside relaxing when Lloyd Henry ran and snatched me off the ground! And tell me I won!

Mr Henry stuck with me and the great Bert Manhin was my coach.

Sport has been fantastic for me. Through hockey and shooting, I’ve seen a lot of the world.

I first went to the Athens Olympics in 2004.

It was amazing, the history behind the Greek mythology, the people, the culture. Wow. Sometimes when I watch these Greek movies now I’m like, “Hey! I know ‘bout that!”

I went to Tokyo Olympics 2008 and London 2012 and am now aiming for one more, Paris 2024.

As long as the Lord give me strength to hold up the pistol. And once the eyes stay young. My sport has longevity to it. People win Olympic medals in their 60s, and I just turned 52.

I didn’t go to Brazil 2016, and didn’t take the chance with the covid thing in Beijing 2022, wanting to protect my family. I stopped the qualifying process – but I would have qualified.

My best performance has been silver medal at the Pan American and Commonwealth Games.

And I was Olympic Sportsman of the Year 2010 and 2011.

You’re shooting indoors from 50 metres, half the distance of a 100m dash.

You have 75 minutes to fire 60 single pellet shots on target.

You use only one hand, unsupported.

When the pellet passes through the electronic target, it registers on the computer in front of you.

We used to use paper targets and you had to (replace the target, 50m away, after every shot).

You wait for the scores to see if you make the top eight of the 100-and-something competitors. Only the top eight go to the finals.

Fitness is key because you’re trying to shoot between your heartbeats.

So you actually try to slow down your heart rate.

It’s mentally draining because you’re concentrating on that small front sight over and over.

I love the finals of shooting competitions. I love to see everybody’s pistol shaking…

Nowadays, in the finals, everybody starts at zero. You shoot five shots straight in two and a half minutes.

Then you have a next series of five shots in two and a half minutes.

And that score is carried forward. And then, every two shots, somebody gets eliminated until you have a winner, like penalties in football.

The best part is knowing you have the nation behind you and, when you achieve, it’s the greatest feeling. When you’re on the podium and you hear your national anthem playing and you see your flag being raised above other flags.

The bad part is if you have an off-day. You know you’re being supported by so much people and feel like you’ve let them down and you just want to be alone and, like, scream! You felt so ready and, in that one moment, things just went…

I want to give thanks to all the people who have supported athletes over the years. Not only in Trinidad, but the whole Caribbean region, we have a lot of talent. I want to advise the coaches and the heads to keep researching.

Everything is evolving and everything is a science now. The training is evolving.

Especially the mental (aspect) is being developed. The last few years, we haven’t been able to get our athletes mentally up to par.

A Trini is a free-spirited person who could adapt to anything, anywhere, anytime. He likes to achieve and overcome.

To me, Trinidad and Tobago means home, love, peace and unity.

We have a mixed culture. I not Muslim but I can find a Muslim pardner to eat at Eid.

Of all the countries I’ve travelled to, there’s no place with the freedom we have. We could have a drink and lime at any time.

We are loving people.

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