Illness denied 200-metre sprinter and quarter-miler, Basil Ince, the opportunity to participate in the 1960 Rome Olympics.
At the height of his athletic career, the 1959 Pan American Games gold and silver medallist was set to compete in the his first Olympics when he fell ill.
“There was no pain,” recalled Ince while in Toronto recently to launch Olympian: 75 Years of Trinidad & Tobago in Olympic Sport and Black Meteors: The Caribbean in International Track & Field which provide historical analysis of the region’s participation in the Olympics and major global athletic competitions and compelling profiles of some of T & T’s top amateur sports heroes. “I was just weak and I sought the help of about 50 doctors who could not diagnose the problem. Looking back, I think it was a thyroid issue.”
Ince quit the sport the same year and went on to enjoy a distinguished career as a political science professor, Trinidad & Tobago cabinet minister, sports administrator and author.
“I have overcome the disappointment of not being an Olympian, but I have not forgotten it,” he said.
The author of Trinidad & Tobago at the Olympic Games: From Rodney Wilkes to George Bovell III, published seven years ago, Ince said he started writing Olympian in the late 1980s.
“Trinidad & Tobago has been competing in Olympic sporting competitions since the 1930s, but no volume records the feats of our athletes in the broader sense during that period,” he said. “This book fills that void in that it examines the performances of individual athletes who have distinguished themselves in various Olympic disciplines.”
Two team sports – soccer and field hockey – are profiled in the book. Toronto-based bandleader, Errol Achue, was a member of the T & T hockey team that won a silver medal at the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg. That was the first T & T hockey team to participate in a major competition just months after the twin-island republic was admitted to the International Hockey Federation.
With no funds forthcoming from the cash-strapped T & T Olympic Association, the T & T Hockey Association took a bank loan to make the trip to Canada. Financial constraints limited the team to just 15 players, including manager/player Derney Mouttet.
A photo of the team celebrating the historic occasion is included in the book.
“That photo was given to me by Errol shortly after the team returned home,” said Ince.
T & T’s president, George Maxwell, wrote the book’s foreword. He said the publication is a welcome contribution to the treasure trove of reading material related to the twin-island republic’s history.
“The history of our country is a most important component of its development as it guides our future,” he said. “Development has many facets, sports being one of them and a particularly defining one given its positive influence on the youth of a nation as well as the ability to rally a people around their heroes in sport…I believe that the documentation of this history should appeal not only to the family of sportsmen and women but to all of us interested in human development.”
In Black Meteors, Ince traces the performance of Caribbean athletes from 1948 when the region made its debut at the London Olympics.
“This book is a dream for statisticians and track and field buffs,” added Ince who managed the T & T team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics where sprinter Hasley Crawford secured the country’s first gold medal. “It’s complete with data on the standing of the leading athletes for every major competition in the last 64 years.”
Both books are available at A Different Booklist, 746 Bathurst St.
By RON FANFAIR