T&T’s top athletes have been recognised by their nomination in their respective disciplines for the First Citizens Sports Foundation Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards. The function is set to take place this evening at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s from 7 pm, with His Excellency, President George Maxwell Richards hosting the event. The selection committee, headed by chairman Dr Keith Clifford and assisted by National Sporting Organisations (NSO), has the difficult task of selecting the most outstanding performers, out of dozens who have brought T&T glory during the past year. Already, one of the favourites to take the Sportwoman of the year, one of Tobago’s ever-growing track superstars Kelly-Ann Baptiste, the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Personality of the Year, together with shooter Roger Daniel, the 2011 T&TOC and the Trinidad Guardian Sports men’s Personality of the Year. Baptiste was also the Ministry of Sports and the Sport Company of T&T top sportswoman for 2011. Archer George Vire and several others, were also in the build-up to today’s highly anticipated event. Here are a few more nominees, who in their right are also favourites to take the sportsman and sportswoman awards. Baptiste is again included.
Like the evening migration of the Scarlet Ibis over the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, there was an inevitability of Kelly-Ann Baptiste really breaking through. Not to belittle her outstanding 2008 and 2010 seasons, but last year saw the Tobagonian earn a bronze medal in the women’s 100m at the IAAF World Championships, after finishing third in a time of 10.98 seconds behind the USA’s Carmelita Jeter (10.90) and Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica (10.97). She later helped T&T to a fourth-place finish in the women’s 4x10m relay final (42.58). The former Louisiana State University student’s outstanding form came to a crescendo the Areva Samsung meeting in Paris on July 8, when she won the women’s 100m race in a time of 10.91 seconds, ahead of Jamaican Campbell-Brown (10.95) and Kerron Stewart (11.04). This was followed up by an 11.11 triumph in Lucerne, Switzerland on July 21 and an 11.15-second win at the ISTAF Athletics Meeting in Berlin, Germany on September 11.
Daniel, who won the top prize during last year’s ceremony, continued his amazing run of success in 2011. The T&T Regiment member captured the silver medal in the Men’s 10m air pistol competition at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, after he captured a total of 676.1 points. Daniel also competed in the 50m pistol event, in which he placed 11th. However, he did manage to win this particular discipline at the Central American and Pan American Invitational in August. A pair of gold medals was also earned in the 10m air pistol and 50m pistol in the Norwegian Hell Open International Air Gun Championships and Daniel’s accuracy was simply better than that of the rest at the ACOM Challenge in April, when he won the 10m air pistol. It was in this latter category that Daniel made a local statement by capturing the title at the TRA National Championships.
Amidst a clique of quality bowlers, paceman Ravi Rampaul had to do something drastic in order to stand out from the rest. Well, grabbing five wickets for nine runs in T&T’s opening game of the 2011 Caribbean T-20 tournament, against the Leeward Islands, set the tone for a competition that T&T won; to regain its status as regional 20-overs per side champion—helped along the way by Rampaul, who was his team’s joint-leading wicket-taker with eight scalps. The 27 year old was definitely on the ball during the Nokia Champions League T20 in India, where T&T enjoyed some outstanding moments and where Rampaul scored a personal triumph with a team-high twelve wickets at an average of 12.50 runs per wicket
His most outstanding performances in the Champions League included a four for 14 display during his squad’s 51-run preliminary round victory over Leicestershire and a three for 17 return during a thrilling 1 wicket loss to the Mumbai Indians.
Thanks to a bevy of world record achievements from its premier spin-bowler, Anisa Mohammed, the West Indies women’s cricket team made a serious statement in international competition during 2011. The highlight of the year was the West Indies conquest of the ICC World Cup Qualifier tournament in Bangladesh. Mohammed’s phenomenal figures of seven for 14 against Pakistan in the final at Mirpur, helped her team to a 130-run triumph and earned her the Player of the Match award. In total, she claimed 15 wickets on the tournament at a shocking average of just 5.46 runs conceded per wicket and simply added to a world record haul of 37 ODI wickets for the year. In becoming the first West Indies women’s player to surpass the 50-wicket mark (with 72 as of January 2012), she also helped the West Indies to a 3-1 ODI series win over Pakistan. Mohammed also claimed 11 wickets in leading T&T to second-place behind Jamaica at the WICB Women’s Championship in Barbados.
For 20-year-old Njisane Phillip, the cycling world has provided one long, eventful, exciting, challenging and rewarding odyssey of adventure. In spite of his youth, he has already followed in the footsteps of T&T’s past greats by establishing himself as one of the best in the Americas. This fact was first proven last May at the Pan American Championships in Medellin, Colombia, where he earned a bronze medal in the men’s match sprint competition. It was an achievement that would be mirrored at the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, five months later, when he also established a new event record in the Flying 200 metres event —9.977 seconds. His relentless pursuit of a place in the 2012 Olympic Games in London occupied the remainder of his time during 2011 and brought some outstanding personal triumphs, including sixth and eighth-place finishes in the Flying 200 metres and keirin, respectively at the UCI World Cup meet in Cali, Colombia.
The year 2011 turned out be an unbelievable one for this youthful sailing enthusiast from Westmoorings in the laser class. After qualifying to compete in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico by finishing 37th overall out of 104 competitors at the Rolex Miami OCR Regatta in Florida in January, Lewis went on to finish 10th at the Big Dance itself. He earned one fifth-place finish in his ten races and took home a total of 81.0 net points. Lewis also became T&T’s first-ever participant at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth, Australia, where he earned a 94th place finish in the laser class out of 145 participants. Lewis also placed 67th out of 155 total competitors at the Semaine Olympique Francais ISAF World Cup event in Hyeres, France. The 22-year old also participated in the Skandin Sail for Gold Regatta, another ISAF series event at Weymouth, England in June, when he finished 84th out of 124 sailors.
True to form, Sheldon Bissessar just had to start off 2011 in the same fashion he had experienced over the previous three years—by obliterating a world record (his own). During the IHRA’s first Nitro Jam event of 2011 at the Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida on January 29, the Trinidad Rocket ignited his way to an IHRA TD World Record of 5.68 seconds at 238 mph. Apart from surpassing his own 5.78 mark, Bissessar also set a 1/8 mile record time of 3.69 seconds and recorded the fastest pass in NHRA history (243 mph). On February 19 he set a track record at the NHRA Sunshine Dragstrip in Clearwater, Florida during the first Heads up Madness event of 2011. Bissessar enjoyed a 3.79 second pass to take the number one qualification spot, recorded 3.76 in the finals and then blasted his way to a 3.75 clocking in the final to defeat Mark McElwee. At the NAPA Friday Nite Rage in Indianapolis, Indiana on July 8, Bissessar reset the Ultimate Dragster speed record with a trap speed of 190 mph.
This 18 year old always manages to find some way to keep her focus strong to the point that she already experienced her third year as a member of the national ladies senior team during 2011. Her steady play helped T&T to finish on top the leader board after the final round of the women’s amateur competition at the Caribbean Golf Championships in Trincity. Her team’s final score of 152 was enough to edge the defending champion, Puerto Rico (160), into second place, followed by the Cayman Islands (154) and Barbados (162). Her performances during the 2011 Future Collegians World Tour included victory in the FCWT National Girls Championship in May. She also won the AJGA Junior Puerto Rico Open girls title at the beginning of 2011. This preceded the start of the freshman’s NCAA career at the University of Central Florida. One of Sealy’s best performances for the Knights came in a tied second-place finish in the Alamo Invitational in San Antonio, Texas.