ACTING Prime Minister Colm Imbert yesterday had a message for Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic team at Brazil. “Best of luck,” Imbert said. “Win plenty of medals and make us proud. Looking forward to seeing the Trini flag flying high at the medals ceremonies.” Imbert also confirmed Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley landed safely at California on Thursday night.

It is understood the Prime Minister - who is due to undergo medical checks at the start of the vacation period - has travelled with security officials but has not travelled with communications staff as the trip is a personal one. The Office of the Prime Minister did not immediately issue an updates when contacted yesterday.

Also sending best wishes to the team was Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. “As the national Olympic Team gets set to compete in this year’s Games in Rio, I offer my best wishes to all our athletes,” Persad-Bissessar said in a media statement. “Sport is an essential part of national development. I remain committed to supporting our national sports men and women.

We are proud the past achievements of our athletes and we are ready to wave the flag and stand with our team for these games.” She said during her term as Prime Minister she ensured that government “devoted much of our capital investment to establish world class athletic facilities in our country.” These included: the National Cycling Centre; the National Aquatic Centre; the National Tennis centre and the Siparia Regional Sport Complex. The Olympics opening ceremony was held last night, marking the formal start to the Games.

Princes Town MP Barry Padarath said all the athletes were already winners having qualified. He indicated their hard work, training and dedication would pay off and “bring them great success and great joy to our blessed nation”. Padarath said the athletes carried the hopes and dreams of a nation which had, “found itself in stagnation and despair”.

He said Persad-Bissessar played a role in improving sporting facilities and urged the population to engage in sport and to follow the example set by positive role models.

Trinidad and Tobago’s contingent features 32 athletes across eight disciplines, with athletes competing in judo, artistic gymnastics and rowing for the first time. The 2016 Olympic team surpasses the 2012 contingent which comprised 31 athletes who participated in five sporting disciplines.

Another first for the team is the participation of 11 female athletes in the games, making this the largest group of women to represent the nation since Trinidad and Tobago made its Olympic debut in 1948.