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Callender willing to give back to TT youths

Hard Rock Punta Cana
Callender willing to give back to TT youths

NATIONAL SPRINTER and double Olympic medallist Emmanuel Callender is willing to give back to the new crop of TT athletes, after he hangs up his spikes.

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The 35-year-old Callender is part of the national 4×100-metre relay team, along with Marc Burns, Aaron Armstrong, Keston Bledman and Richard Thompson, who are expected to receive their medals at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan

The TT’s second-place finish, with a time of 38.06 seconds, was upgraded to gold, by the IAAF, after Jamaica’s Nesta Carter (a member of their quartet), failed a doping test

The 35-year-old Callender was part of the TT 4x100m teams who got silver at both the 2012 London Olympics and the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany.

The 2017 national 100m champ has personal times of 10.05 (100m) and 20.40 (200m), both were set in 2009

In the final part of an interview at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima last Tuesday, Callender spoke about his thoughts on TT track and field and his career thus far

JOEL BAILEY (JB): I understand you deal with interact with the up-and-coming crop of TT athletes

EMMANUEL CALLENDER (EC): I speak to a lot of youths. I hear their cries and they really want to do well and inspire others. There are no genuine people to guide them. You wouldn’t find people in authority using us, as mentors, to help them get to the place where they are supposed to be. I have two Olympic medals and they don’t come just by luck and chance. That’s by the gift of God, hard work and experience

JB: What will you consider to be your major accomplishments?

EC: I have accomplished quite a lot in my career. I’m a two-time CAC (Central American and Caribbean Games) champion, I’ve won countless medals at many games. As I look back at some of my accomplishments, accolades and titles, in one season I achieved sprint distances (in the) 60 metres, 100m, 200m, 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m in the 2017 World Relays. And that was at the age of 33, when people said ‘time for you to park up’. Also, being part of my journey, training with (Usain) Bolt, experiences where I was offered opportunities to be a side-coach and help out different guys from the Arab countries at the 2016 Olympics

There is an Indian guy in Trinidad right now whom I’m actually mentoring, Sunil Singh Nagarkoti. Most importantly, bringing joy to the nation and accomplishing this with teamwork. The struggle and the fight to achieve those things are the most memorable

JB: After your track and field career ends, where are other avenues you are looking at? Is gospel one of them?

EC: Next year please God, at the Tokyo Olympics, me and my team are supposed to get the gold medals from 2008, which is really a huge accomplishment for TT. We completed clean, through hard work and dedication. It’s sad to see we’re receiving it now but it always show that doing the right thing pays. Sometimes it doesn’t pay immediately but it pays off eventually. We’re living in a nation where everyone wants everything fast, nobody wants to work hard. The people who work hard are not being rewarded as they should. This is what is causing lots of bitterness and hatred within the country

JB: Any career paths you intend to follow?

EC: Anything to do with giving back to the youths, and to sports, would be given priority, but it must be sustainable to help support a family and help participation at masters level, and help motivate people. I want to try to find ways of giving back. Probably I might dabble in health and fitness, coaching, music, but something around youth coaching, mentorship, guidance and stuff like that

JB: What keeps you motivated at this age?

EC: To be honest, God. What really fuels that (fire)? The majority of the time is when I hear youths who want to give up and want to turn to a life of crime. When I show them that I can do that regardless, it makes me feel good. I feel young, I don’t feel old. Before the 2012 Olympics, a few individuals watched me and asked ‘Callender, when you’re retiring?’ and I was like ‘something have to be wrong with me’. Right after that, I got a next Olympic medal. I choose to be an inspiration for others

JB: Why, in this era of dope testing, why athletes are still keen on taking steroids or performance-enhancement drugs?

EC: It’s the quickest way to get to the top. Everybody wants to be to the top, and everybody likes a winner. The majority of the people who are doing that, don’t have the patience. It’s the same thing with crime. Then you’re being faced with the pressures of your country and some people around you who are pressuring you to take this thing.

JB: Do you envision pursuing a gospel career long-term?

EC: It’s something full-time I want to do. Right now, my main focus is track and field and touching a bit here-and-there on coaching. I’ve been working with some international athletes in different countries, helping them mentally and psychologically

EC: When you asked what motivates me, I have something to add to that. To me, age is not a factor, but it seems this is so only in TT. People in positions influencing many sports in TT do not enhance the conveyor belt for talent. National teams bring back aged athletes over and over.

There is little to no space created for older ones to give back, but on the team itself. Some end up injured by overextending themselves and retire without ceremony. Some end up disgracefully retired. There should be a mix of young talent and experience. This should be factored in development process. One other thing, egos and selfishness get the better of some guys in this tiny nation. It is a fact.

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