The beach volleyball Commonwealth Games duos of Daneil Williams and Daynte Stewart as well as Rheeza Grant and Abby Blackman have been selected among two national men and women teams each to continue preparations for the NORCECA Continental Olympic Beach Volleyball Qualifiers.
In a media release from T&T Volleyball Federation (TTVF) president, Daymian Stewart, father of USA-based Daynte of Indiana Tech Institute, it was stated that: “The TTVF was very cautious in the preparation of its national beach volleyball teams for the upcoming Olympic Qualification semifinals and finals to be held in Mexico in June due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic."
Nevertheless, the TTVF named its top four athletes in each gender that will be eligible for Olympic qualifications and reserves.
Williams and Stewart are joined by NORCECA Tour regular and their former playing partners, Marlon Phillip and Joel Theodore while ex-top national beach player Fabien Whitfield, who has completed an FIVB suspension, is named among the reserves with Stephen Enile, Tevin Edwards and Kareem Thomas.
This will be Williams second straight Olympic qualification bid after he teamed up with Simon Blake, Christian Francois and Colin Bernard for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in Brazil, reaching the NORCECA Continental stage as well in Guaymas, Mexico.
The women’s team comprises Grant and Blackman as well as La Teisha Joseph and Malika Davidson, all experienced participants on the NORCECA Circuit. The quartet of reserves is led by Suraya Chase and Apphia Glasgow, both NORCECA Circuit players as well, and juniors Tsyan Selvon, and Asma Charles.
At the last Olympic Qualifiers in 2016, the trio of Grant, Davidson and Blackman were joined by the now-deceased Ayanna Dyette for a sixth-placed finish among eight finalists in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Meanwhile, the local volleyball federation also named former Senior Caribbean Men’s Championship-winning coach Sean Morrison and Jason Dennis as coaches of the Under-23 men and women team for the U-23 Pan Am Games Qualification Tournament.
In addition, the High-Performance Unit of the TTVF was given the mandate to have all the athletes medically evaluated within the next 14 days.
According to Stewart, the uncertainty of travelling within the pandemic may also affect the final selection as some athletes are fearful of being vaccinated.
He added, “The athletes’ preparation will now intensify under the watchful eyes of their private coaches."
With regards to the coronavirus and existing health and safety protocols, Stewart said the TTVF has identified the protocols to be observed: " a) No more than five persons in any one training session; b) Coaches must wear a mask during sessions; c) No celebratory contact gestures (no hugging, high fives, etc.); d) Teams do not change sides of the court as per normal; e) Balls and Nets must be sanitised before and after every session; f) Coaches are to keep on-site a log of all athletes attending sessions with their personal contact information for contact tracing; g) No Spectators.