Lovie Santana, the Trinidad and Tobago Chef de Mission for Birmingham 2022, experienced the full range of British weather when attending last month's open days for this year's Commonwealth Games.

"It was bright and sunny, then it was cold and it was snowing one day," she told insidethegames.

"I think we got the four types of season in one week."

Santana has recent experience of being a Chef de Mission after taking the role at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in February, where the Caribbean nation fielded a two-man bobsleigh team.

She was also Chef de Mission at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last year, and was interested in Birmingham 2022's multiple Athlete Village set-up when attending the open days.

Villages will be in operation at the University of Birmingham, the NEC and the University of Warwick, as well as a satellite Village in London for the track cycling.

"Having come back from Beijing and going into Birmingham, and seeing the set-up of what they have planned for the upcoming Games, it's certainly something that is different from the usual," said Santana.

"One of the things that really stood out for me is that all the Games Villages that we visited will be equipped with everything, and be similar to the main Village, which is the University of Birmingham. 

"I found that very interesting, and I look forward to seeing it in real time, Games time.

"I have been to so many Games, and usually when you hear that you have different Villages or satellite Villages, you usually do not get the same infrastructure in each Village.

Keshorn Walcott won gold in the javelin at the London 2012 Olympics ©Getty Images
Keshorn Walcott won gold in the javelin at the London 2012 Olympics ©Getty Images

"So that was one of the things that really stood out for me. 

"I feel a sense of comfort and I know I can rely on the local Organising Committee to really put in the infrastructure that they say they will put in, and that our athletes will be taken care of. 

"Because what they presented seemed to be very well planned. That was one of the highlights for me."

The NEC village will be convenient for athletes competing nearby - with this benefit perhaps counteracting the negative aspects of splitting teams up across the various locations. 

"That was something spectacular for me because the athletes will basically be in one zone," said Santana.

"It is walking distance to everything, from training to venue. 

"Even though there is a lot of separation, it is well thought out in how they go about having the sports separated and so on."

Trinidad and Tobago is expecting to compete in at least eight sports at Birmingham 2022, although the team is yet to be completely confirmed.

The total team size, including athletes, coaches and officials, will likely be over 100 in athletics, swimming, boxing, judo, netball, cycling, table tennis and triathlon.

Athletes to keep on the radar include Keshorn Walcott, who won gold in the javelin at the London 2012 Olympics and then bronze at Rio 2016.

The country's two champions from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games could also return, with Michelle-Lee Ahye winning the women's 100 metres in Australia and Jereem Richards adding the men's 200m title.

Santana also pointed to the country's strong cycling team, which includes world track silver medallist Nicholas Paul.

Michelle-Lee Ahye won the women's 100 metres title at Gold Coast 2018 ©Getty Images
Michelle-Lee Ahye won the women's 100 metres title at Gold Coast 2018 ©Getty Images

In the pool, Dylan Carter won silver in the men's 50m butterfly in Gold Coast and was second again in the same event at the World Short Course Championships in Abu Dhabi this year. 

"As a Chef, and speaking for some of the officials that have attended, the Commonwealth Games is usually a very well planned Games," said Santana. 

"The operations are usually smooth and there are fewer issues. 

"So a lot of people really look forward to it."

Trinidad and Tobago's proud athletics history includes the likes of Ato Boldon, the world 200m champion in 1997 and a four-time Olympic medallist.

Hasely Crawford won the country's first Olympic title over 100m at Montreal 1976, while the islands struck gold again in the men's 4x100m relay at Beijing 2008.

This year, the best track and field athletes from all Commonwealth Games nations must cope with a congested schedule.

The World Athletics Championships in Oregon will end just four days before the Birmingham 2022 Opening Ceremony on July 28, causing a headache for those hoping to compete at both.

"We started discussions with our athletes during their competitions at Tokyo 2020," said Santana. 

"We had one-on-one conversations with athletes, and we were asking how they feel about coming from the Worlds and heading straight into the Commonwealth Games.

"Some of the athletes, they are ready for it, they want to compete. 

"So I think we will have some of our star athletes going into the Commonwealth Games. 

Jereem Richards also topped the podium for Trinidad and Tobago at Gold Coast 2018 ©Getty Images
Jereem Richards also topped the podium for Trinidad and Tobago at Gold Coast 2018 ©Getty Images

"I don't think that will be a major issue. 

"We just have to ensure the logistics for their travel are planned accordingly, so that they can get to Birmingham."

Santana originally started in admin support, before becoming a Deputy Chef de Mission and then finally Chef de Mission.

Birmingham 2022 should see fans return to a multi-sport Games, and allow more freedoms, after Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 were heavily impacted by COVID-19.

"It's no secret that COVID certainly impacted a lot of our athletes, physically, mentally and even financially as some make their money going to different meets and so on, and they were unable to do so," said Santana.

"The training regime for the Olympics was not the same as what they would have done for previous years. 

"It impacted a lot of pre-Games camps, and getting that proper training in prior to the Games." 

Like all of the Caribbean countries, Trinidad and Tobago will welcome the addition of a women's T20 cricket tournament to the Commonwealth Games schedule, even though Barbados has been selected to represent the West Indies.

Cricket stars from the country include the great Brian Lara, who still holds the Test match record for best individual score with 400 not out, and the best first class score of 501 not out.

Striker Dwight Yorke was a member of Manchester United's treble winning squad in 1999, with Trinidad and Tobago making a memorable appearance at the FIFA World Cup in 2006.

Santana said there is always camaraderie between the Caribbean nations at multi-sport events.

Brian Lewis, the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, also heads the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees.

"We have Caribbean love," Santana said. 

"We always try to support one another. 

Dylan Carter won silver in the pool at the 2018 Commonwealth Games  ©Getty Images
Dylan Carter won silver in the pool at the 2018 Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images

"At the Winter Olympics, we had Jamaica competing as well in the bobsleigh.

"Our team went down the track before them, and we stood with the Jamaican team and we were supporting them as well.

"So that alone shows the kind of support that we will give the Caribbean countries.

"I think it's the norm for us when we go to Games. 

"We're very familiar with the officials and executive members.

"Having been to a number of meetings and Games, you build that network and you build friendships.

"It's normal for us to be able to depend on each other."