President of Abilene Wildcats Shedley Branche speaking at the annual Abilene Wildcats Athletic Club Awards ceremony pose with their trophies. The Awards ceremony took place at the Arima West Government Primary School Arima Old Road, Arima on Saturday, December 10.
(Photo courtesy: CLAYTON CLARKE/Sportscore Tobago)
NAAA President Ephraim Serrette
Feature speaker Kwame Laurence
(Fri Dec 16): The Abilene Wildcats Athletic Club is celebrating a successful year in track and field in 2016. The 53 year old club fielded five members on T&T's team to the Rio Olympics Games, the most by a club. The five: Janiel Bellille, Reyare Thomas, Kyle Greaux, Deon Lendore and Jereem Richards now brings the number of club athletes who have compete at the Olympic Games to 15. Coach Charles Joseph, who was also in Rio on the T&T coaching staff, was a member of the 1972, 1976 and 1980 Olympic teams. The club's first Olympian was its founder Dr. Cliff Bertrand. T&T's first female Olympic competitor, Laura Pierre, was also a Abilene Wildcats member. The full list of Abilene Wildcats Olympians are: Dr. Cliff Bertrand (Tokyo-1964), Winston Short (Mexico City, 1968), Dr. Lennox Yearwood (Mexico City, 1968), Charles Joseph (Munich-1972, Montreal-1976, Moscow-1980), Laura Pierre (Munich-1972), Ainsley Armstrong (Munich-1972, Montreal-1976), Anthony Husbands (Montreal-1976), Andrew Bruce (Moscow-1980), Michael Paul (Moscow-1980), Caryle Bernard (Los Angeles-1984), Deon Lendore (London-2012, Rio de Janeiro-2016), Janiel Bellille (London-2012*, Rio de Janeiro-2016), Reyare Thomas (Rio de Janeiro-2016), Kyle Greaux (Rio de Janeiro-2016), and Jereem Richards (Rio de Janeiro-2016). Please note: Bellille competed at the 2012 Olympic Games while a member of the Neon Tracks Athletic club. Lendore has won the club's lone Olympic medal, bronze, when he anchored T&T's men's 4x400m team to third place at the London Olympics four years ago. The club is also the largest in the country at the moment with a membership of 164.
In Rio, Bellille was semifinalist in the women's 400m hurdles while Greaux (men's 200m), Thomas (women's 200m) and Lendore (men's 400m/4x400m) competed in the heats. Richards (mens 4x400m), Thomas (women's 4x100m) and Greaux (men's 4x100m) were also part of relay pools.
Four Abilene athletes (Adel Colthrust, Avindale Smith, Che Lara, Josiah Edwards) competed at the Carifta Games in Grenada. Colthrust (boys under 18 100m) and Lara (boys under 18 4x400m) returned home with bronze.
President of the club, Shedley Branche is praising the parents of the athletes for the club's accomplishments. "Many of you have parents have supported all throughout your development and I am sure have and will continue to sacrifice tremendously to see you reach your goal." Speaking at the club's annual award ceremony at the Arima West Government Primary School, Arima Old Road, Arima on Saturday, December 10, Branche called on the athletes to be disciplined to their training in order. "Discipline is the bridge between talent and ultimate success. Discipline is what is going to bring you out at 5 o'clock in the morning to run the hills and practice your starts and baton exchanges over and over until you get it right. Discipline also is what is going to make you attractive to your future employers after your track days are long behind you." He also commended the coaching staff and administration for their contribution to the club's accomplishment in the past year.
Feature speaker, sports reporter Kwame Laurence, encouraged the athletes to have a vision for success. "Do you have a dream? If the answer is no that needs to change today. Every day you to out to train you must move one stride closer to realising your dreams. Coaches, parents and administrators you have a responsibility to help the athletes catch a vision.God expects us to have big dreams for ourselves and for others. Hold on to your dreams and achieve greatness." Laurence cited examples of great athletes kept focussed on their goals despite initial disappointments. "Michael Jordan is (considered) the greatest basketball of all time and did not make his high school A team in is sophomore year. He was considered too short but he held on to his dream. He could have given up at that stage. Thankfully he held on to his dream, had a great season with his high school B team and make the A team the following year. He then developed into a sporting legend." Laurence shared that former top T&T sprinter Ato Boldon overcame a poor showing at his first Olympics games and went to win four Olympic medals. "Ato Boldon would tell you that he did not have a great performance at his first Olympics in Barcelona Spain in 1992. He will also tell you that the newspaper headlines that followed that performance "Boldon flatters to deceive" inspired him. It is now history that Boldon went on to become Trinidad and Tobago's most prolific Olympian with four medals.
NAAA (National Association of Athletic Administration) president Ephraim Serrette also congratulated the club. "I want to congratulate Abilene Wildcats. Fifty three (53) years are lots of years. I want to say to the athletes congratulations on the season and I look forward to seeing you in 2017. Continue to represent your club to best of your ability." He added that track and field has had a big impact in his life. "As a former athlete I want to say to the younger athletes that track and field has done a lot for me. If not for track and field I am not too sure where I would have been today."
Abilene Wildcats club president Shedley Branche
Trinidad & Tobago Secondary Schools'
Track & Field Association