George Comissiong

AWAITING FURTHER FEEDBACK: NAAATT acting president George Comissiong

National Association of Athletics Administrations of Trinidad and Tobago (NAAATT) acting president George Comissiong sympathises with athletes who are trying to qualify for the July 23 to August 8 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Last Tuesday, 24-year-old sprinter Jonathan Farinha made a heartfelt plea for the resumption of track and field competition here in T&T. The letter was published in Thursday’s Express as part of a story headlined “TOKYO ROADBLOCK”.

Covid-19 challenges forced the cancellation of a meet in Trinidad two weekends ago, as well as one scheduled for this past weekend in Tobago.

“There is merit in the case presented by the young athlete,” Comissiong told the Express. “We appreciate the need for the athletes to continue competing and trying to attain the qualifying standards. However, we also appreciate that need must be tempered by the reality of our current situation. We have to weigh the interests of athletes with wider societal interests.”

A spike in Covid-19 cases has led to a number of restrictions, including the closure of gyms until May 23.

“We continue to collaborate with the two ministries—Sport and Health—with respect to the possibility of further meets, the first of which we hope to stage on May 15 and 16. If permission is granted, additional measures will have to be implemented to minimise Covid risks. We are appealing to athletes and coaches to do all that is necessary to minimise infection.

“If the May 15 and 16 meet comes off,” Comissiong continued, “we may need to use some type of qualifying standard to reduce participants, giving opportunities to those closest to attaining qualifying performances, whether for the Olympics, Carifta Games or any other meets.”

The NAAATT boss said his organisation is unable to make concrete plans at this time.

“We await further feedback. We may in fact be told no meet at all would be held. We note, though, that the Prime Minister (Dr Keith Rowley) indicated that where there was no special mention of new restrictions, old arrangements would apply. So, we’re waiting on guidance on the number of athletes allowed in each of the stadia. We’re also waiting on final word on the application for the meet.

“In the interest of the sport, and for all the athletes close to qualifying, we are hopeful we will in fact get a positive response. We’re willing to comply with any additional requirements.”

Covid-19 challenges forced T&T’s withdrawal from the World Athletics Relays, in Poland, which concluded yesterday. The global meet was a golden opportunity for the country to secure an Olympic berth in the men’s 4x100 metres relay. The women’s 4x1 and men’s 4x4 teams have already qualified for the Tokyo Games.

Comissiong said the NAAATT is exploring the possibility of fielding men’s 4x1 teams at meets in the United States, on the last weekend in May, in a bid for Olympic qualification.

“We’re looking at the Atlanta Georgia Relays and a possible meet in Miramar, Florida. We have enough athletes out in the United States to be able to field a men’s 4x1 team at each of those meets. We have Keston Bledman, Jereem Richards, Kyle Greaux and Andre Marcano, as well as some guys in college, including Jalen Purcell, Tyrell Edwards, Jerod Elcock and Dwight St Hillaire.”

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