TRINIDAD AND Tobago's inability to secure qualification for the men's 100-metre event at the Tokyo Games should give the men's 4x100m relay team a chance to place all efforts on mastering their performance for the one-lap event.
So says George Commissiong, president of the National Association of Athletics Administrations of TT (NAAA), who believes TT's shortcomings for the individual event will serve as a platform to enhance the team's chances of securing a podium place in the relay.
Since the last Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016, no national sprinter was able to dip below or equal the revised 10.05 seconds Olympic standard for the men's 100m.
This means that TT will field an Olympic contingent without any entrant for this event; the first time since the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea.
Those selected, among the 57-member Olympic team, to participate in the men's 4x100m relay are three-time Olympic medallist Richard "Torpedo" Thompson, Adell Colthrust, Kion Benjamin, Eric Harrison and Akanni Hislop.
"Of course, not having anyone qualified in the men's 100m is a disappointment, but we also see this as an opportunity," said Commissiong on Sunday.
"We have suffered from inadequate relay preparation in the past as athletes, through necessity, had to focus on their individual events and would only be available after those events were completed.
"On this occasion, members of our men's 4x100m can focus all their efforts on the relay."
The Tokyo-bound track and field team comprises of 21 athletes and six officials.
At the Games, TT will be represented in seven disciplines - track and field, boxing, cycling, judo, rowing, sailing and swimming.
Commissiong added that the pandemic placed added pressure on some athletes to qualify, especially those who were unable to go abroad and capitalise on additional training and top-flight international competition.
He was still pleased with TT's track and field contingent and lauded their efforts, to qualify for the July 23 to August 8 Games.
"Covid19 created a number of challenges for our sport. Notwithstanding, we have been able to field a decent team in terms of age and gender composition.
"Some of the athletes have had a pretty good season on the National Collegiate Athletic Association circuit whilst others have not had the full benefit of competition, given limited opportunities.
"With the team having been selected, members can now focus on getting fully prepared for when competition starts," he said.
However, following the release of the 57-member TT Olympic team by the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) on Saturday, national sprinter Jonathan Farinha has cried foul on his omission from men's 4x100m relay team.
On Friday, the NAAA submitted its final list of track and field athletes to the TTOC for ratification.
Farinha, however, believes he was snubbed out of selection to the squad. He made these remarks on the grounds of having defeated Thompson and two-times Olympic medallists Keston Bledman and Emmanuel Callender in a 100m race in Bahamas last week.
The 25-year-old was among a bunch of TT-based track and field athletes who travelled to Bahamas on the weekend of June 25-27 to participate in the island's national championships as a final attempt to attain Olympic qualification.
He however, did not arrive in time for the meet but was lucky enough to secure another shot to Tokyo at the island's Blue Marlins Track and Field Series event on Tuesday - the final day for Olympic qualifying for track and field worldwide.
There, Farinha and 14 other TT nationals, among them Thompson, Bledman, Callender as well as Semoy Hackett and Kai Selvon, also tried to salvage Olympic qualification in their respective events. All were unsuccessful in attaining the required Olympic standards.
At the meet, the Abilene Wildcats athlete made a strong case for national team selection by clocking the third fastest time (10.40 seconds) in the men's 100m heats and then placing fourth (10.41) in the final. In both instances, he was the fastest of all other TT athletes.
In the final, Thompson (10.44) placed fifth, Callender (10.45) sixth, Tyrell Edwards (10.48) seventh, Andre Marcano (10.54) eighth and Jerod Elcock (10.61) ninth. The top three finishers were Guyana's Travis Collins (10.17) and Emanuel Archibald (10.36), and Bahamian Joel Johnson (10.39).
Farinha was also not included in the TT 'A' men's 4x100m relay team (Thompson, Callender, Hislop and Benjamin) in Bahamas, which earned silver in 39.63.
Prior to his Bahamas showing, his only other meet for 2021 saw him clock 10.50 seconds at a NAAA developmental meet in early January.
But, following the TTOC's announcement of its Olympic team on Saturday, Farinha congratulated his fellow TT athletes but expressed disappointment of not making the relay team. He vented his feelings on Facebook.
"It's a bummer that I wasn't selected on the (TT) Olympic (team). I can only control the things that are meant for me and if this wasn't my time I guess God knows best.
"It is honestly disheartening that I was left off the team after showing the best fitness running almost close to no races this year and was still able to emerge victorious in Bahamas over my peers right before this same selection for the Olympic Games but nevertheless.
"To all the athletes I wish y'all the best and may God cover y'all out there," he posted to his page.
TT's Olympic Contingent for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan -
TRACK AND FIELD: Michelle-Lee Ahye (100m, 4x100m relay), Kelly Ann Baptiste (100m, 4x100m relay), Sparkle McKnight (400m hurdles), Tyra Gittens (long jump), Semoy Hackett (4x100m relay), Khalifa St Fort (4x100m relay), Ayla Stanisclaus (4x100m relay), Kyle Greaux (200m), Jereem Richards (200m), Machel Cedenio (400m, 4x400m), Deon Lendore (400m, 4x400m relay), Dwight St Hillaire (400m, 4x400m relay), Andwuelle Wright (long jump), Keshorn Walcott (javelin), Kion Benjamin (4x100m relay), Adell Colthrust (4x100m relay), Eric Harrison (4x100m relay), Akanni Hislop (4x100m relay), Richard Thompson (4x100m relay), Asa Guevara (4x400m relay), Che Lara (4x400m relay), George Comissiong (team manager), NicConnor Alexander (coach), Dr Ian Hypolite (coach), Charles Joseph (coach), Ismael Lopex Mastrapa (coach), Wendell Williams (coach)
BOXING: Aaron Prince (middleweight boxer 69-75kg), Reynold Cox (team manager), Rawlson Dopwell (coach)
CYCLING: Teniel Campbell (road race), Kwesi Browne (sprint, keirin), Nicholas Paul (sprint, keirin), Desmond Roberts (team manager), Alejandro Gonzalez Tablas (coach), Elijah Greene (mechanic)
JUDO: Gabriella Wood (+78 kgs), Lee Calder (coach)
ROWING: Felice Aisha Chow (single sculls), Sarah Trowbridge (coach)
SAILING: Andrew Lewis (laser men), Kairon Serrette (team manager)
SWIMMING: Dylan Carter (100m freestyle), Cherelle Thompson (50m freestyle), Tracy De Montrichard-Carter (team manager), Chase Bloch (coach)
TT OLYMPIC DELEGATION MANAGEMENT: Lovie Santana (chef de mission), Rheeza Grant (covid liaison officer)
MEDICAL TEAM: Dr Rudranath Ramsawak (chief medical officer), Dr Nailah Adams (doctor), Dr Anyl Gopiesingh (athletics doctor), Jelani Baptiste (physiotherapist), Alban Merepeza (physiotherapist), June Durham (massage therapist), Odessa Chandler (massage therapist), Shurlan Bonas (massage therapist), Brent Elder (massage therapist).