Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley commended members of Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic team who he said was “representing well in heart and spirit” in the Olympic Games currently underway in Tokyo, Japan.

And while he congratulated the Jamaican team for carrying the Caribbean flag, he suggested that this country needs to do more at the primary level to strengthen our Olympic performance. He addressed the performance and well-being of the 50-member Trinidad and Tobago Olympic team at Saturday’s press conference.

“I think Trinidad and Tobago is well represented and as much as we would have liked to have come home with a basket of medals those who carried our flag did so with pride. We are a little disappointed in those new ones who have tested positive, but we are being told that they are being managed.”

Notably mentioned was Michelle-Lee Ahye who missed out on a place in the women’s 100 metres final after producing a season-best run of 11.00 seconds. The T&T sprinter missed the placement by only one-thousandth of a second to Britain’s Daryll Neita.

Dr Rowley said that he was “disappointed that Michelle didn’t get into the finals and when you didn’t get in by one thousand of a second that sounds like steel band judging to me–she did us proud.”

He also commended the Jamaican team who he said was “punching well above their weight class,” particularly the Jamaican women who he said are carrying the Caribbean flag.

In the women’s 100m final, Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah smashed a 33-year-old Olympic record as she blazed to victory, successfully defending her sprint crown at the Olympics on Saturday.

Thompson-Herah, running out of lane four, trailed countrywoman Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (lane five), close the mid-way stage before making a late surge to cross the line in 10.61 seconds to eclipse the old record of 10.62 set by the late American Florence Griffith Joyner in Seoul.

The 29-year-old Thompson-Herah led a Jamaican sweep of the podium positions as Fraser-Pryce,34, won silver in 10.74 and Shericka Jackson bagged the bronze in a personal best 10.76.

It was the first time the top three finishers in a women’s 100m final had dipped below 10.80 seconds and was the second time Jamaica had swept the top three spots in a women’s Olympic sprint medal race.

When asked how he felt T&T could improve the performance of our athletes to match that of team Jamaica, the Prime Minister said sports development should begin from as early as the primary level.

“What they have is a tradition in a world that receives dividends in that tradition. The interschool sports has been huge and has been huge since the early ’70s and out of that system comes scouting, people being selected early in their teenage performances, and they end up in the United States.”

He said while T&T outranks Jamaica in terms of sporting facilities and government support, other developmental areas should be addressed.

“If we are failing in any area, it is that area where we don’t have the exposure and competition in the interschool. We have a greater capacity than Jamaica to do that, we have more secondary schools we have more top-class playgrounds. Unfortunately, it is not reflecting itself in the competition that drives the teenagers to the attention of the scouts.”

The Prime Minister said he believes the country would make an improved showing “once our athletes end up in the competitive collegiate system,” however, he said T&T has the potential to strengthen its performance if training starts with athletes at the school age.