The Tokyo Olympics is here and all eyes are on the 23-year-old who will become the first female cyclist from Trinidad and Tobago to compete in the Olympics. Teniel a devout parishioner of OLPH in San Fernando until she moved to Europe in 2018 is set to make history but her mother, Euphemia Huggins is a strong woman of faith who shares with us on this week where we celebrate families in the archdiocese some of the things that she believes are responsible for Teniel’s success.
Euphemia is not an ordinary woman herself. Perhaps known only in her community as a policewoman but she herself was a formidable sportswoman’s in her day. In 1990 she earned a bronze in the long jump for Trinidad and Tobago in Mexico’s Central American and Caribbean Games. She has also represented the country in both the Pan American Games and the Commonwealth games in netball and basketball. Euphema confessed that she was playing netball until she was in her 8th month of pregnancy with Teniel and perhaps it was there, still in her mother’s womb that Teneil first learned about being a sportswoman, about tenacity, and about love for country.
Why did her children choose cycling as their preferred sport? Euphemia who is also the mother of Akil Campbell the young cyclist who just won gold in the Pan American games ( and who was the first endurance cyclist to receive a Gold medal in Trinidad and Tobago)believes that their first bike at age 3 &4 had a profound impact. But in Pleasantville, there was not much space for riding so she would take her children with her to Skinners Park while she practiced netball and they could ride. On one of those occasions, they met the great but now deceased Noel Luces who invited them to join his club. When she told him that they did not have proper bikes he reassured her that they did not need bikes and the rest is history.
But Euphema believes that the real key to her children’s success lies in the level of discipline that they received. Unlike many modern-day parents, Euphemia allowed the village to help her raise her children.”Girl if they misbehave, my brother and sister, the neighbour and all could discipline them! I believe that discipline can take you anywhere, my mind just runs on their confirmation and how strict their confirmation teacher Ms. Constantine was. I never had any problem with them and discipline because they know I could be a madwoman when I ready”. But although Euphemia sees herself as a strict disciplinarian her children describe her as hardworking, strong, and courageous.
Teniel in an Express article is quoted as saying. “She has made several sacrifices throughout her life to ensure that my brother and I are comfortable and happy. Euphemia just goes above and beyond for us”
Euphemia sheepishly confessed that her children were much more committed to Sunday mass than she was because many times she would have to miss mass for work or do household chores to be well taken care of when they get home from church.
As the opening of the Olympics draws close, Euphemia says she feels proud and happy with the things her children were able to accomplish. In 1989 Euphemia Huggins was the Sportswoman of the year and 20 years later in 1999 she lived to see her daughter become the First Citizens Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the year and for that Euphemia gives God the glory.