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National icons and heroes

Bunji Garlin revs up the crowd. Photo by Aaron Richards

Bunji Garlin revs up the crowd. Photo by Aaron Richards

Just some of the Trinidadians and Tobagonians who have won titles on the world stage

  • Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez: winner of the 2013 Soul Train Award for Best International Performance. First soca artists (along with band-mate and wife Fay-Ann Lyons Alvarez) to perform at the Glastonbury Music Festival
  • Stephen Ames: world top 25 golfer with four major PGA titles, including historic victory over all-star field with Tiger Woods at the Players Championship (2006)
  • Anya Ayoung-Chee: former Miss T&T Universe and fashion designer who won the US reality/competition television series Project Runway
  • Kelly-Ann Baptiste: sprinter who won the bronze medal in the 100m World Championships 2011
  • Ato Boldon: four-time Olympic medallist (2 silver, 2 bronze for 100m and 200m, 1996 and 2000), and 200m World Championship gold medallist (1997). Current broadcaster for NBC in the USA
  • Cleopatra Borel Brown: shot putter who won NACA Championship gold (2007), multiple Central American & Caribbean Championships gold medallist, and Pan Am Games gold medallist (2015)
  • George Bovell III: nation’s first Olympic medallist in swimming, winning Olympic bronze in the 200m individual medley (2004). He is also a two-time World Championship bronze Medalist, five-time Pan Am Games Medalist (2 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze), multiple Caribbean and Central American medalist and record holder, among other accolades
  • Machel Cedenio: gold (men’s 4×400 relay) and silver (men’s 400m) medalist in the 2015 Pan Am Games; gold medal in the men’s 400m at the 2015 IAAF Diamond League Grand Prix
  • Janelle Penny Commissiong: Miss Universe 1977
  • Hasely Crawford: nation’s first Olympic gold medallist, winning the men’s 100m (1976)
  • Wendy Fitzwilliam: Miss Universe 1998
  • Jehue Gordon: hold medallist, 400m hurdles at the 2013 World Championships (2013)
  • Lalonde Gordon: Tobagonian bronze medallist (men’s 400m spring) at the 2012 Olympics, also winning Olympic silver with the men’s 4×400 relay team
  • Headley performing at the HOME concert at NAPA in Trinidad. Photographer: James Wallace, courtesy Heather Headley

    Headley performing at the HOME concert at NAPA in Trinidad. Photographer: James Wallace, courtesy Heather Headley

    Heather Headley: Trinidad-born Tony Award and Grammy-winning singer and actress

  • CLR James: prolific writer, historian, cultural and political figure, and leading voice in Pan-Africanist movement
  • Geoffrey Holder: Trinidad-born, Tony Award-winning (1975) theatre and film actor, dancer, painter, director, and designer. Best known on film for roles in Dr. Dolittle (1967) and Annie (1982)
  • Angela Hunte: US-based, Grammy Award winner (for co-writing “Empire State of Mind”, performed by Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys)
  • Giselle Laronde-West: Miss World 1986
  • Chavez Lamy: swimming 2015 Special Olympic Games
  • Lennox Kilgour: Olympic bronze medallist in weightlifting (1952)
  • Nicholas Knight: four time medalist (1 silver, 3 bronze) for powerlifting at the 2015 Special Olympics Games
  • Brian Lara: multiple record-holding cricketer with two test match score records (375 runs not out in 1994 and 400 not out in 2004); highest first class score (501 not out, also in 1994); all-time leading run scorer in test cricket
  • Josanne Lucas: Tobago-born sprinter, and the island’s first female World Championship medallist (400m hurdles in 2009)
  • Nicki Minaj: Trinidad-born, US-based Platinum Record-holding hip-hop star. She is the third artist to have seven singles on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, and the first female artist to be included on MTV’s Annual Hottest MC List. Her awards include: several BET Awards, a UK Asian Music Award, a NARM Award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Teen Choice Award, and MTV Video Music Award, among several other nominations
  • Peter Minshall: mas designer, multiple winner of Band of the Year titles, winner of T&T’s first Emmy Award for costuming of the 2002 Winter Olympics opening ceremony
  • Machel Montano

    Soca superstar Machel Montano in action

    Machel Montano: winner of the 2014 Soul Train Award for Best International Performance, and a trailblazer for soca music internationally, performing several tracks with international stars like Pitbull, Shaggy, and many more

  • Marionettes Chorale: winners of the Ruth Railton Prize for the most outstanding contribution by a visiting group at the Cork International Choral and Dance Festival (Ireland, 1984) — the only local choral group to hold an international prize for choral singing
  • VS Naipaul: Trinidad-born, knighted (UK, 1990) Nobel Prize winner (Literature, 2000)
  • Claude Noel: Roxborough (Tobago) native and nation’s first boxing World Champion, lifting the WBA’s World Lightweight title in 1981
  • Billy Ocean: born Leslie Charles in Trinidad, international pop star with hits like “Caribbean Queen” (1984)
  • Njisane Phillips: cyclist who won gold and silver at the 2010 Central American & Caribbean Games, bronze in the 2011 Pan American Games, and silver at the 2015 Pan Am Games
  • Joanna Piango: equestrian gold medalist at the 2015 Special Olympic Games
  • Jean Pierre: scored the most goals in the 1979 World Netball Championships to lead T&T to victory, the first country to host and win the championships
  • Renny Quow: Tobago-born sprinter, winning the island’s first medal (bronze) in the men’s 400m at the World Championships (2009)
  • Ria Ramnarine: nation’s first female World Champion (2005), and WIBA Mini Flyweight title holder
  • Arthur NR Robinson: former President of the republic, launched UN General Assembly resolution for the establishment of the International Criminal Court
  • Giselle Salandy: won her first junior WBA and WBC World Light Middleweight titles in 2006, adding IWBF and WIBA titles by 2007. Died tragically in 2009 at 21 years old. (Also known as Jezelle, Jizelle and Jiselle Salandy)
  • Tobago-born legend Calypso Rose. Photographer: Mark Lyndersay

    Tobago-born legend Calypso Rose. Photographer: Mark Lyndersay

    Linda McCartha Sandy-Lewis (Calypso Rose): born in Bethel, the first woman to win the national Road March title in 1977 (“Tempo”) and 1978 (“Soca Jam”), forcing the Calypso King competition to be renamed Calypso Monarch when she danced away with the 1978 crown. In 2016, she was also named Artist of the Year at the prestigious World Music Expo (WOMEX) in Spain. A documentary film has been made about her: Calypso Rose: Lioness of the Jungle

  • Akeem Stewart: 2016 winner of paralympic gold (javelin) and silver (discus) medals; and world record holder for men’s javelin F44
  • Leslie “Tiger” Stewart: renowned boxer lifted the 1986 WBA Light Heavyweight belt; islands’ second World Champion
  • Richard Thompson: double 2008 Olympic silver medallist (men’s 100m and men’s 4x100m relay), and World Championship silver medalist (men’s 4×100 relay)
  • Kwame Ture: born Stokely Carmichael in Trinidad, former prime minister of the Black Panthers, leader of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party
  • Keshorn Walcott: two-time Olympic medallist (gold in 2012, bronze in 2016). He’s the youngest male athlete (and the first black one) to win a gold medal in javelin; the first individual track and field athlete ever to win World Junior and Olympic titles in the same year; and he holds the North, Central American and Caribbean junior record
  • Jariah Walker: swimming gold medalist 2015 Special Olympic Games
  • Rodney Wilkes: nation’s first Olympic medallist for weightlifting (silver in 1948, bronze in 1952)
  • Dwight Yorke: Tobago-born football star and leading striker for UK teams like Manchester United and Aston Villa. He was an integral part of Trinidad & Tobago’s heartbreaking World Cup campaign in 1989, falling just one game short of qualification. 17 years later, he captained the national team to an impressive debut at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where the islands made history as the smallest country ever to qualify
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