Gold in IAAF 4×400 relay in Japan

PRAISES continue to be heaped on the TT 4x400m relay team after the quartet of Deon Lendore, Jereem Richards, Asa Guevara and Machel Cedenio claimed the gold medal out of lane four at the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, Japan yesterday.

At the Yokohama International Stadium, Cedenio, running the anchor leg, collected the baton from TT's Asa Guevara in third place, well behind leaders USA and just behind Caribbean neighbours Jamaica. The 23-year-old, however, produced a tremendous late surge to move past Jamaica and somehow catch USA on the finish line for the title. USA were eventually disqualified for a reported lane infringement, bumping Jamaica (3:01.57) to second spot and Belgium third in 3:02.70.

Cedenio, the national 400m record holder, was timed at an impressive 44.41 split. The performance by the reigning world champions left the track and field fraternity, regionally and internationally, beaming about the finish, which went down to the wire.

President of the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) of Trinidad and Tobago, Ephraim Serrette called it another landmark achievement but one he wasn't surprised with given the team's performance recently. "It was a good performance and expected from the defending world champs. We had a good chance from the moment they took starting positions in the heats and it augurs well for young athletes, inspiring them and motivating them for the future," he told Newsday.

"We have a young team and seniors like Machel will continue to be role models for upcomers like Asa, and even now Jereem has found himself in a senior position. It's a gift to the nation and you'll see young runners, especially the Carifta athletes, now wanting to emulate them even more moving forward," Serrette added.

As for Cedenio's run, Serrette stated it was his "trademark" as over the years, in several competitions, the anchor has closed down even longer distances en route to winning. "We've seen Machel do this in the Bahamas in the Carifta tournaments as a youth over five years ago and even in 2015, as a senior, he was showing this was his forte, so again, it's no surprise to me," Serrette continued. As for what this victory means for the near future, he indicated it once more reiterated the country's strength in the relays; something he said existed since the days of medallists like Wendell Mottley and Edwin Skinner.

The Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) and Trinidad and Tobago Commonwealth Games Association (TTCGA) also deemed the performance " a wonderful Mother's Day gift" as they extended congratulations to the quartet.

"The overall performance of the Team has inspired and motivated their fellow countrymen and women. It was indeed a wonderful Mother's Day gift. The effort reflected courage and an indomitable will to win. The anchor leg produced by Machel Cedenio was a display of focused calm, self belief and unwavering determination," both bodies said in a joint statement.

"Congratulations to the athletes, their coaches, management and the National Association of Athletics Administrations of Trinidad and Tobago. As our nation faces economic challenges, sport continues to deliver good news to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, highlighting yet again, that sport can make a positive difference to our country," they added.

The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs also extended hearty congratulations to the runners for another exemplary performance. In a press release, Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe called their run "outstanding," expressing jubilation by saying "our athletes continue to display excellence in sport and have proven once again that they are a force to be reckoned with." The statement also promised the Ministry will continue to promote the development of sport and support these world-class athletes so they can fulfil their full potential on the world stage.