Dexter Voisin, manager of the 21-member squad in Beijing also took aim at those who might wish to match TT to Jamaica in terms of performance.
Voisin was speaking about the fact that several leading TT athletes either failed to qualify for their finals or simply never competed, due to injury.
“I don’t know that track and field was given a mandate to be the number one sport in TT ,” he told Newsday.
“I don’t know who gave us that mandate. But what I know is that each sport in TT should be striving to be number one. I am hearing people comparing us to Jamaica, I am hearing people also suggesting that the standard must be raised so that the athletes who travel will be medallists, and that is an unrealistic goal. I’m not seeing other sports being pressured to perform at the international level.” TT returned last week with two medals- bronze for the 4x100m women and silver for the 4x400m men.
“Track and Field has been qualifying at all the international meets...
and we have been performing,” Voisin continued.
“We are not like Jamaica who have X amount of athletes winning on the podium consistently. But Jamaica is ahead of TT in netball, they’re ahead in football; I saw a Jamaican win a gold medal at the World Swimming Championships; so I’m trying to figure out why Track and Field is always being pressured to lead the way in sport in TT .
We are not getting the majority of the funding, we don’t have the majority of the facilities, we are doing our best from our part.
“We could never be compared to Jamaica; Jamaica is a totally different system in sports throughout, not just in track and field,” he maintained.
What appeared to disturb many TT fans was the significant number of athletes who were eliminated by injury even before the start of competition; especially as many of them admitted that they had been “carrying” the injuries while in training.
Voisin said the medical team only “discovered” the injuries when workouts in Beijing began.
“(We) had a plan to examine athletes before Pan Am and Worlds and pick up injuries early and manage injuries which could be managed,” he explained. He recalled that following a medical screening after the National Open Championships, Richard Thompson chose to quit for the rest of the season and Michelle-Lee Ahye was advised to skip the Pan Am Games.
“So we did our part as a federation to ensure that our athletes going on to the World Championships would have been medically fit, and also if there were any injuries that were manageable, that a course of action was being taken from there on to the World Championships.” Voisin described Cleopatra Borel’s injury to her fingers during the warm-up for the shot put final as a “freak accident” that hampered her ability to throw.
He admitted that, having taken Pan Am gold despite competing with a leg injury, Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott’s failure in Beijing to throw the javelin anywhere near his best was not easy to explain.
“Keshorn had a cast on his foot going to Pan Am Games; no complaints when he arrived in Beijing,” Voisin said.
“With regards to his performance, not the coach neither him could explain exactly what went wrong. He just didn’t perform and it was a case where I would imagine it was one of those days.
For anybody to get an explanation with regards to what happened there, that definitely would have to come from the athlete.” Looking toward Rio 2016, Voisin emphasised the need for planning.
The former distance runner said the TT Olympic Committee needs to get involved with all the federations, including the National Association of Athletics Administration (NAAA).
“Now, when the TTO C said that they have this vision for 2024, I think to get X amount of medals, for some reason everybody thought it’s track and field (alone) that they speaking about. Track and field is not the only Olympic sport in TT , so I think the interest should be across the board,” he said. “We are doing our part, we are trying our best to represent TT at the highest level at all the different age groups, and sometimes I feel the athletes do not get sufficient credit for that, it’s always a criticism.”