Father+Son Team: Trevor & Jamil James



Trinidad and Tobago has a rich history in the sport of athletics, moreso track, with names such as Hasely Crawford, McDonald Bailey, Wendell Mottley, Ed Roberts, Kent Bernard and more recently, Ato Boldon, being among some of the elites.

But there’s one name that deserves to stand along those mentioned above, though by an act of fate or injustice, Trevor James was denied his rightful place as a patriotic son of the soil.

For those fanatics who closely followed track and field in the 1960s and '70s, at a time when our track athletes were acquitting themselves well on the international stage, then you may remember that James was a member of T&T’s contingent at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.

In fact, James made it to the quarterfinals of the 200 metres while fellow countryman Hasely Crawford reached the final of the 100 metres, but bowed after a few strides with a hamstring injury.

Prior to the 1972 Olympics, James was in tremendous form and at the 1971 Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia, was a member of our 4 x 400 metres relay squad that collected bronze medals.

Sadly enough, James’ track career was curtailed when sometime after his Olympic exploits he was blacklisted by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee and given a lifetime ban from representing his country for allegedly burning a national flag.

Express Sports caught up with James recently at his San Fernando base.

ES: Is it true that you had a choice of representing either the United States of America or Trinidad and Tobago?

TJ: No.

ES: Did you ever regret your decision to represent T&T?

TJ: No, at no point did I ever regret representing my country despite all that happened.

ES: Would you like to elaborate on the incident that saw you being blacklisted by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee?

TJ: No. But I would like to use the opportunity to inform the public that I did not burn the national flag.

ES: Do you believe that this prevented you from winning more medals and ultimately bringing further glory to T&T?

TJ: Yes, it most definitely did.

ES: What do you think about to the current state of affairs of track and field in this country?

TJ: It has improved somewhat, but it’s still in a state and a lot of improvement is still needed. Similar to 1972, coaches and managers are still trying to manage things that they have no control over. For example, when I made the decision as the coach of my son Jamil for him to run the 200 metres at the 2004 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Juniors in Mexico, the coach of the team was surprised and the manager stated in his report to the NAAA that he was shocked and surprised as well. And for what reasons, I do not know since Jamil qualified to run both the 200 and 400 metres.

As his coach I made the decision and he finished third in that Games. I also made the same decision at the World Junior Championships in Italy last year and he made his country and his family proud by bringing home the bronze medal.

What I am trying to say is that as a coach I should have the final say as to what event my athlete should compete in at any Games I am preparing him or her for, especially in this case because he’s my son and I’m not going to make any apologies for such. I know that I’m a good coach, who loves what I do, and I have a passion for track and field. I also love to win.

There were many people who were shocked by his ‘World Games’ 200-metre bronze medal, but now that he’s on a track scholarship in the USA and all set for some specialised training, I’m telling you that by the time the Beijing Olympics in 2008 comes around there will be bigger ‘shocks’ in store.

ES: What advice do you have for the youths who want to embrace track and field in T&T?

TJ:Â Track and field is an individual sport so those who want to become exponents of the art should study it out for themselves. One manner of doing so is to keep oneself up to date with times and distances produced by international athletes worldwide in your event and this can be achieved via the Internet.

Another important attribute is having the right attitude. Without the right attitude, attaining the heights of success will seem like a monumental task. Also, athletes need to remember that your present coach does not own you, he or she is just the coach. If you are studying your sport and not getting the results you would like to achieve then change the coach. Remember, this is your future, own it, manage it and discuss it with your parents or guardians. But one thing you should not do is stay in that failing place all the days of your life. Track and field is a great sport and it can take you all over the world, so stay in school, get the academic results to achieve a scholarship, thus earning a degree and an opportunity to enhance the quality of your life.

ES: Which club are you associated with and where do you conduct your coaching sessions?

TJ: The club’s name is Quantum Track & Field Academy and we primarily train at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.

ES: Have you ever been selected as a national coach?

TJ: I was selected as coach for the IAAF World Youth Championships in Sherebrooke, Canada in 2003 and I will be the head coach for this year’s national team for the Carifta Games in Tobago.

ES: Outside of coaching what other activities are you involved in?

TJ: I counsel and motivate youths and adults on a one-on-one basis and also facilitate workshops in schools through my company Quantum Possibilities Ltd located at Christian Street, San Fernando. I also assist athletes in obtaining sports and academic scholarships…

ES: Going back to your early days in track and field, who would you say inspired you to go that way?

TJ: No one in particular, I more or less choose my path as a youngster.

ES: Can you recall who was your first coach?

TJ: Albert “Coach” Brown of Forest Reserve.

ES: Were you involved in any other sporting discipline?

TJ: Yes, I also participated in cricket and football.

ES: Who was your local idol as a young athlete?

TJ: My answer might surprise you and many others, but it was actually Kent Bernard because I just loved his style.

ES: How would you have rated your form at home before migrating overseas?

TJ: Well, I would say very good, but to get a clearer indication you should ask Hasely as he had a pretty good idea.

ES: Which university did you attend in the US?

TJ: The University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee, where I graduated as a child psychologist with a degree in family economics.

ES: Can you give us an idea of some of your sporting accomplishments?

TJ: I had an outstanding record while at university, which included being a two-time All American Track & Field Athlete (highest collegiate honours). Also, my bronze medal at the 1971 Pan American Games and the 1972 Olympic Games being some of the more definable ones.

ES: And what would you say is your most memorable moment in track and field?

TJ: Winning the 440 yards indoor at my Conference Meet while I was in the USA.