PORT OF SPAIN Track and field athletes Keshorn Walcott and Michelle-Lee Ahye were named the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee's Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, respectively, at the TTOC's 19th Annual Awards Gala hosted at the Regency Ballroom, Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain on Thursday night.
The Gala also commemorated the TTOC's 70th anniversary this year. Neither of the two winners, currently out of the country, were present Thursday night and Dr Ian Hypolite and Ahye's mother Raquel collected on their behalf.This year's awards were once again dominated by track and field athletes; aside from javelin thrower Walcott and sprinter Ahye, teenaged sprinter Khalifa St Fort and world record-breaking Paralympian field athlete Akeem Stewart were named the Junior Sportswoman of the Year and the Sports Personality of the Year, respectively.Top T&T swimmer Dylan Carter, who was part of T&T's largest contingent at an Olympic Games -- 35, in Rio in August -- was tabulated as the People's Choice with 580 votes while cyclist Nicholas Paul was adjudged Junior Sportsman of the Year. Walcott followed up his historic London 2012 Olympic gold medal performance with a Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medal effort to stake his claim. Ahye made an historic three finals in Rio, a record performance for a T&T woman, including a fifth-placed finish in the sport's blue riband event- the 100m dash, achievements judged good enough to win her the prize.St Fort won a bronze medal at the World Juniors before making her Olympic debut at the age of 18 in Rio and anchored the T&T team in the final of the Women's 4x100m relay.For his part, Stewart broke two world records and claimed a gold and a silver at the Paralympic Games in Rio in September. TTOC president Brian Lewis said the TTOC continues to evolve, as the role and responsibilities of National Olympic Committees had changed dramatically in recent years. “Rethink. Re-image. Reshape. Re-brand. Review. Re-energise. Revitalise. Re-imagine what a new sport organisation that is fit for purpose and relevant to the CLICK Generation- Fast, now, tech savvy, digital and on demand. Transformation- Finding the balance between stability and continuous improvement,” Lewis said.Lewis emphasised that the TTOC has to continue to keep itself modern and relevant and staying true to its “athlete-centred, market-driven and service based with a relentless focus on transparency and accountability and good governance” motto.
“We have had our failures and made mistakes. But we have learned and grown and have become better for it,” the former rugby player said.
Lewis listed as TTOC successes the re-branding of Team TTO; the setting of the ambitious and aspirational 10 or more Olympic Gold medals by 2024 goal; the introduction of financial medal bonuses; the introduction of a good governance code; and the activation of a social media and digital strategy to engage sport fans.Lewis also added the TTOC was committed to advocating a $1 billion SportIndustryTT by 2030.
“2016 has been an Awesome and Fascinating and even frightening one for the TTOC.
It has been one of significant learning.As we continue on the Journey to Tokyo 2020 and 10 Golds2024, we must continue to disrupt and create new normals that meet and exceed the service expectations of our athletes,” Lewis said.
Lewis also advocated a safe environment in sport for children and minors.International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach sent a video message congratulating the TTOC on its work and encouraging them to continue going into the future.
Feature speaker on the night was ESPN's Neil Shaka Hislop, a former T&T national and English Premier League goalkeeper who traced his career and the role sport played in his development as a person aiming to become a better version of himself.Both Hislop and President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Anthony Carmona addressed the scathing criticism levelled at the athletes during Rio 2016. Both implored local fans to support the athletes even when they don't meet lofty expectations, noting that the achievement of Olympic status is a major feat in itself.TTOC Honour rollSportswoman of the Year - Michelle-Lee Ahye (track and field)Sportsman of the Year - Keshorn Walcott (track and field)Junior Sportswoman of the Year - Khalifa St Fort (track and field)Junior Sportsman of the Year - Nicholas Paul (cycling)Sports Personality of the Year - Akeem Stewart (track and field)People's Choice Award - Dylan Carter (swimming)Alexander B Chapman Award - Catherine Forde