The crowning of Teniel Campbell as First Citizens Sports Foundation 2019 Sportswoman of the Year caught no one by surprise, not even Campbell herself.
“Not to be full of myself,” Italy-based Campbell told the Express, “but I knew there was a high probability of me winning the award based on my performances in 2019.”
Among Campbell’s achievements was double silver at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, the Trinidad and Tobago cyclist finishing second in both the road race and time trial.
”Over the years, I would constantly say I am going to win this Sportswoman of the Year award someday. Everyone in my family was happy about it so of course, I was also happy because I love when my family is happy.”
The happiest of them all was probably Campbell’s mother, Euphemia Huggins, a standout long-jumper in her younger days who also represented T&T in netball and basketball. Huggins was named Sportswoman of the Year for 1989, the year she earned long jump silver at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Track and Field Championships, in Puerto Rico. Training commitments, however, prevented Huggins from attending the awards ceremony to receive the coveted trophy.
Campbell said that her mother’s absence from the ceremony, 30 years ago, added significance to her own Sportswoman of the Year achievement.
“It was like I was giving her another opportunity to relive her moment as she was not present to collect her award in 1989.”
Huggins, who was coached by Gunness Persad at the Gasparillo-based Simplex Athletic Club, also competed in the 100 metres event as well as the sprint relay. But it was in her specialty event, the long jump, that Huggins brought glory to her country. Among her achievements was CAC Games bronze in 1990.
After retiring from the sport, Huggins had two children. Akil Campbell was born in 1996, and Teniel in 1997. Both are standout national cyclists. Huggins continued playing netball for recreation, and took her kids with her to Skinner Park. Teniel, though, was unaware of just how good a sportswoman Huggins was.
“Growing up, I never knew of my mother’s accolades. Somehow, she managed to keep them a secret, and I only found out in standard five when I was attending St Gabriel’s Girls RC. One of my classmates came to me and was like ‘hey, do you know your mom is in the museum?’ Blank stares on my end, a bit shocked and confused, thinking it was all a lie.
“I searched the house,” Teniel continued, “and stumbled upon a scrap book with all her newspaper clippings. As I grew older, I heard how highly other people spoke about my mom; the type of athlete and person she was and is. Even the people doing work on the house, I remember overhearing their conversation. They did not know us. Yet, how they described her was really heart-warming.”
Huggins and her family circle poured their hearts into Akil and Teniel, spurring them on to excellence in cycling.
“From the start,” Huggins explained, “they always had good support from their family. Their aunt, uncle and cousins were always present. Also, the tough love and teasing ‘chats’ they endured from family fired them up to always push past their limits to win their races. This possibly developed them from early to be strong-minded, and also knowing that they were making their family happy.”