Trinidad and Tobago Olympian Dr Cliff Bertrand has passed away. He was 84. According to his daughter, Lisa, Dr Bertrand died yesterday of natural causes in New York, USA.
Bertrand represented the British West Indies at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Italy. He progressed to the second round of the men’s 200 metres. Four years later, at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, Bertrand ran in T&T colours. He again advanced to the 200m second round.
Bertrand has three Pan American Games bronze medals. At the 1959 Games in Chicago, USA, he teamed up with Jamaican Dennis Johnson and T&T’s Wilton Jackson and Mike Agostini, the British West Indies quartet claiming third spot in the men’s 4x100m event in 41.1 seconds.
At the 1963 Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Bertrand secured men’s 400m bronze for T&T in 47.43 seconds. And in the 4x100m, he combined with Anthony Jones, Irving Joseph and Cipriani Phillip for bronze in 40.87.
Another standout T&T athlete, Dr Basil Ince was Bertrand’s teammate on the 1959 British West Indies team. Ince, who earned 400m silver and 4x400m gold in Chicago, was shocked to hear of Bertrand’s passing.
“Cliff was a nice person, a genuine person, a wonderful person,” Ince told the Express. “He called me all the time from New York to talk about track. He never lost interest in the sport in T&T. As an athlete, Cliff was best at the 200. He was a good athlete, had a nice action, and gave it his all.”
Bertrand was golden at the 1957 British West Indies Championships, getting to the line first in the men’s 200m. And at the 1958 British West Indies Championships, he earned three gold medals.
Bertrand was very popular in his hometown, Arima. Apart from excellence on the track, he was founder of the Abilene Wildcats Athletic Club.
In a Facebook post, yesterday, former national athlete and TV6 journalist Andrew Bruce paid tribute to Bertrand.
“It is with great sadness that I write this post. As a member of the documentary committee for the club’s diamond jubilee, I was up till two this morning preparing questions for a video interview with Mr Bertrand. As a world class athlete and educator he has left a great legacy. May his soul Rest in Peace.”
Bertrand was inducted into the First Citizens Sports Foundation Hall of Fame in 2008. And in 2015, he entered the New York University (NYU) Athletics Hall of Fame. The NYU track and field head coach between 1978 and 1984, Bertrand was the first person of African origin to serve as head coach at a major institute in New York.