Machel Cedenio

TOP CLASS: Machel Cedenio, en route to victory in the opening IAAF World Athletics Championship men’s 400 metres semi-final heat at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, last October. The T&T quarter-miler finished seventh in the final.

—Photo: © Getty Images for IAAF

Machel Cedenio enjoyed his best season on the track in 2016, the year of the Rio Olympics. Just 20 at the time, the Point Fortin quarter-miler finished fourth in the men’s 400 metres final in a national record time of 44.01 seconds.

The second fastest time of Cedenio’s career, 44.34, was also clocked in 2016. In total, four of his five fastest one-lap runs were produced that year.

Cedenio certainly brought his A-game to the 2016 season. That was also the plan for 2020. “Because it was an Olympic year,” Cedenio told the Express, “my training was going really well.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, came into the equation, forcing postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo 2020 will now be staged between July 23 and August 8, 2021.

While Cedenio would have preferred a 2020 Olympics, he supports the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision to push back the Games by one year.

“I agree with that decision to postpone the Olympics because this virus is not isolated to one particular area but is worldwide. It would be impossible to guarantee the safety of all the athletes and persons who may choose to attend.”

Even before the IOC announced its decision to postpone the Olympics, Cedenio and his teammates at the Florida-based Pure Athletics club faced training challenges.

“Our regular track was closed so we were training in a park. Because track and field is now in limbo we are basically just focusing on keeping our fitness level up.”

Though there is a high degree of uncertainty in the world of sport as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Cedenio is optimistic about his chances of competing in 2020. “I think we would be able to hold some of the Diamond League events that are held July to September. I hope the season is not lost.”

In the meantime, the 24-year-old track star will adjust his preparations based on the guidance of his American coach Lance Brauman, the founder and CEO of Pure Athletics. “My coach sets the programme that he sees fit. I will abide by whatever he recommends.”

Cedenio said an additional year of preparation does not necessarily mean he will be in better shape for the Olympics.

“A lot of things could happen in a year. Things could stay the same, things could go wrong, or conditions could get better. Only time will tell. The playing field is never level in track and field. You only have to hope and pray your hard work is not in vain.”

Regardless of the circumstances, Cedenio’s Tokyo goal remains the same. “I am preparing for a podium finish whatever year the Olympics is held.”

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