We hear the caution against over-celebrating the performance of national athletes at the recently concluded 2019 edition of the Pan American Games, but we feel certain to be forgiven for cheering loudly and optimistically a feel-good moment in these times of political and social confusion.
Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis, himself acknowledging the squad’s outstanding performance, reminds us that on the road towards Olympic competition, there are many events of which the Lima, Peru games was but one.
But what an event it was. Featuring the best athletes in the Americas, the TTO contingent of 98—58 men and 40 women—faced more competition that ever before at these games; this year’s edition of the sports fest showcased more athletes, more sporting events and more Olympic qualifiers than in its previous 17 editions, Mr Lewis informs. The TTO contingent competed in 18 disciplines, a demonstration of the range of sporting interests being developed and talent born and nurtured here by family, community and country.
When the final curtain fell in Lima, our athletes had ascended the winners’ podium 13 times, twice to collect coveted gold, eight times to be adorned in silver and three occasions to receive dazz-ling bronze. Njisane Phillip, Nicholas Paul and Keron Bramble pedalled hard against Colombia in the team sprint event to clock the winning time of 43.972; Paul, on his own, brought to the red, white and black a second gold in the individual sprint.
Cycling produced even more reasons for the glow of national pride: Phillip took silver in the men’s individual sprint and Teniel Campbell, a versatile campaigner, brought silver from the women’s individual time trial as well as from the women’s road race. Michelle-Lee Ahye, an enduring Olympic hopeful, dipped for silver in the women’s 100m, as did Keston Bledman, Jerod Elcock, Kyle Greaux and Akanni Hislop, Rueben Walters in the men’s 4x100m. Keshorn Walcott, who brought us Olympic glory last time around, threw for silver and Felice Chow paddled for second place in her women’s single rowing sculls final.
Dylan Carter contributed bronze from the men’s 100m backstroke, as did light welterweight boxer Michael Alexander and the 4x400m relay team of Machel Cedenio, Greaux, Asa Guevara, Deon Lendore, Jareem Richards and Dwight St Hillaire.
Since the 2017 publication of the Nigel Henry poll results showing that athletes are “the singular bright spot in a country that has lost confidence in its leaders and institutions”, national athletes have continued to generate reasons for the special place they hold in public hearts.
In these uncertain times, this newspaper extends congratulations to those proud to raise the national flag, and remind them, as Mr Lewis has done, that as we thank them, they too must thank the country for their glorious achievements.
It is in this acknowledgment and generous exchange of gratitude between nation and citizen that hope for national recovery resides.