When Trinidad and Tobago National Champions and Olympians Keshorn Walcott and Michelle-Lee Ahye were voted “Male Athlete of the Year” and “Female Athlete of the Year” respectively by the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) at their annual awards ceremony held at the Radisson Hotel last Saturday, they achieved the distinction of a unique national double award for their outstanding performances during the 2016 international athletics season.
Walcott, the 2016 Rio Olympics javelin bronze medallist, edged out new national 400-metre record-breaker, Machel Cedenio, who placed fourth in the Games’ men 400M final, which has been deemed the fastest ever one-lap race at the global level.
Walcott was named overall “Male Athlete of the Year” plus the “Top Male Field Athlete” while Cedenio copped the “Top Male Track Athlete” award plus the “Most Outstanding Open Track Award” for his new national record of 44.01 secs., that was recorded in the Rio final.
Ahye’s outstanding performances in both Rio Olympics sprint finals (100 and 200) placed her ahead of 2015 Pan-American Games shot put gold-medallist, Cleopatra Borel, who also reached the Olympics final and placed seventh in her pet event in Brazil.
Both Walcott and Ahye had copped the Trinidad and Tobago Olympics Committee (TTOC) “Sportsman of the Year” and “Sportswoman of the Year” awards at their annual function which was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel ballroom on December 29 last year.
So it is double honours for both reigning senior champions who generated much energy and excitement for Trinidad & Tobago at the Rio Olympics Games and other international athletics meets throughout the 2016 season.
And apart from creating a T&T record of being the first woman sprinter from the twin island republic to compete successfully in both finals of the women 100 (6th) and 200 metres (6th), Ahye was also a key member of the Trinidad and Tobago women sprint relay (4×100) team that placed fourth in the Rio Games final.
Ahye won the overall open “Female Athlete of the Year” award plus the “Top Female Track Athlete” award with a new national record in the 200 metres with a time of 22.25 secs. in the 2016 Rio Olympics 200 third semi-final when she placed second to American, Tori Bowie (22.13).
Ahye placed sixth in the Rio Olympics 200 final which was won by Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson who won double sprint gold and established her credentials as one of the fastest women ever.
Thompson won the Olympics gold in both the 100 (10.71 secs) and 200 (21.78 secs, SB) in convincing fashion. Ahye finished behind Thompson, Bowie (10.83), Jamaica’s two-time Olympics champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (10.86, SB), Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou (10.86) and Netherlands Dafne Schippers (10.90) in the 100 and did likewise behind Thompson, Schippers
(21.88, SB); Bowie (22.15), Ta Lou (22.21) and Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith (22.31) in the 200 final.
Borel, the five-time T&T “Sportswoman of the Year”; was named the “Top Female Field Athlete” with her Olympics and IAAF Grand Prix performances.
Walcott proved his world class ability and collected the Rio Olympics bronze medal when he hurled the javelin to 85.38 metres in his second throw among the twelve finalists in Brazil on August 20.
The 23-year-old became Trinidad and Tobago’s most successful
Olympian with the bronze that was added to his 2012 London Olympics gold when, at age 19; he stunned the world and his much vaunted European rivals, who held complete dominance at previous Olympics Games.
The gold medal went to Germany’s Thomas Rohler who registered the second best ever throw in Olympics history with a monster mark of 90.30 metres, his fifth attempt in the final. The Olympics record was set by Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Walcott and his supporters celebrated the bronze medal effort and it remained Trinidad and Tobago’s only medal success at the Rio Olympics Games.
The London Olympics Games golden glow and positive uplifting feelings created by Walcott’s surprise world class performance at age 19 created high expectations of more glorious memories.
But many Trinidadians felt letdown following the much hyped publicity of the local team being ready to better the London Olympics medal haul and some reacted with negative comments on social media platforms, much to the chagrin of the athletes and their staunch supporters.
But while there were some major disappointments, the younger athletes especially Cedenio and Ahye gladdened the hearts with sterling performances and their improvements over the last season, provided glimpses of better performances at future global competitions.
Additionally, a fully fit and well-prepared Walcott will continue to shine on the global stage and have many more opportunities to challenge his rivals for the topmost position on the prize rostrum during the 2017 season and beyond.