Tyra Gittens, of Trinidad And Tobago, competes in qualifications for the women's long jump at the World Athletics Championships on Saturday, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo) -
Tyra Gittens, of Trinidad And Tobago, competes in qualifications for the women’s long jump at the World Athletics Championships on Saturday, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo) –

You cannot fault athletes for giving their best.

This was the sentiment shared by National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) executive member Dexter Voisin on TT’s 11-member track and field team performance at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

TT concluded the meet without a medal, mirroring the nation’s display at last year’s Olympic Games in Japan.

Voisin still expressed pride in the entire team’s performance as sprinter Jereem Richards placed sixth in the men’s 200m finals.

Richards was also part of the men’s 4x400m relay team, alongside teammates Dwight St Hillaire, Asa Guevara, Kashief King and 19-year-old Shakeem McKay, which placed fifth in the final.

Favoured to medal was double-Olympic medallist Keshorn Walcott, who surprised fans and even himself when he did not advance to the final. Fellow Olympians Tyra Gittens (long jump), Michelle-Lee Ahye (100m) and Portious Warren (shot put) also suffered a similar fate.

Speaking from his US base on Monday, Voisin said there were positive performances coming out of the TT camp, but several athletes remain disheartened to have not secured a podium place.

“If you would ask any of the athletes who competed about their performance they would have all expressed disappointment. Athletes like Keshorn Walcott were in high spirits and was expecting much better.

“The likes of Portious Warren and Tyra Gittens, who would have done well at the 2020 Olympics, coming into these games, they were expecting to improve on their season best. That did not happen. Generally, it was not the performance that TT was expecting.

“But we cannot fault the athletes for going and do their best. Your best will give you a result. Some of them did not get the result they expected. I couldn’t say that any of them didn’t put out their heart and soul. I want to commend them for competing on the world stage,” he said.

When asked what could be done to improve their future performances, Voisin said many critical elements need to work in tandem to ensure success.

“You have to look at it in many ways. There are a number of factors that contribute to performance. With the exception of one or two athletes, they are all pro athletes. A pro athlete’s sport is their livelihood, personal coaches and management.

“As a federation, what we have to do is to put all the logistics in place for those athletes preparing for individual events to perform at the best on that day.

“We have to ensure that we book them on time so they arrive days before the competition, all communication takes place, everyone gets their gears and the athlete has much less unnecessary stress. Administratively, we would have fulfilled that.”

He added, “Most of our athletes are pros and they have their personal handlers. Sometimes we look at it from a national (NAAA) perspective but there are so many things that happen behind the scenes that contribute to performance and not performing to the best of their ability.”

Voisin affirmed that qualifying more athletes to top flight meets such as Worlds and the Olympics starts at home. “More club coaches and others have to step in terms of recruitment and training so that we can have a larger pool of talented athletes so that when we reach this level we can more athletes competing at the highest stage. All factors have to come in place,” he said.

Voisin reiterated that each athlete who represented TT at Worlds did qualify on their merit and was not “hand-selected” by anyone.

He also paid particular emphasis on the 4x400m team, which he said, was a bit inexperienced, excluding pro athlete Richards. However, Voisin believes the youngsters are a work-in-progress.

“We knew that were one of the most inexperienced teams in this event. But the team’s performance in the semis and the final must be noted as they went out and executed well to get into the finals and finish fifth.

“They also had one of our youngest athletes competing in the final Shakeem McKay, 19. He is going on to World Juniors.

“That augurs well for us in terms of the future. I don’t think we can complain about the result so it should fit with the composition of the team. We are in a transition period for athletics in TT,” he said.

Also competing at Worlds were Jerod Elcock (100m) and Eric Harrison (200m), who also did not make it into the medal race.