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Serrette wants reward plan for medal winners
President of the National Association of Athletic Administration (NAAA) Ephraim Serrette says Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott failed to receive any recognition in the past despite his success at regional and international competitions. Walcott, 19, won Olympic gold in the men’s javelin event, throwing 84.5 metres on Saturday. He is a three-time winner in the Under-20 javelin throw at the Carifta Games, setting a new North, Central American and Caribbean Junior record in 2012. He improved this record on May with a 80.11-metre heave in Havana.
Walcott was rewarded for his Olympic throw with promises of a $2.5 million house in Federation Park, St James, 20,000 square feet of land in Toco, $1 million in cash to invest and a Toco housing development named in his honour upon his return to T&T on Monday. In an interview, Serrette said: “I know something will be done to reward this. He won World Juniors and no one made anything of it. He won in an event noted for being dominated by European countries since 1952.”
He said there were other events in track and field to consider. “We have introduced a multi-events champion and we get to expose them to run, jump and throw and to do away with the notion that it is only sprints. We are seeing athletes turning to other events. We need to have the resources and funding,” he said.
Serrette said the Government should have a policy across the board for winners of separate medals. He added: “It should be more of a policy in a structured manner that if you win gold, you would win x or y. It would be equal across the board. The support staff should be commended and they are always there and no one sees beyond their performance and we have to put things in place. It is a team effort.
Serrette said he hoped Walcott would be an inspiration to other athletes. “The hard work, commitment and belief should inspire other athletes to do well. There were others in that group and some had the same commitment and belief and would be in a similar position. They might wake up now and commit and do the work required to be at this juncture,” he said. Serrette said the Olympic Committee was funded by the Government but a plan was also needed.
He added: “We benefit from that but we need to chart the way forward and plan a strategy for the next year. We need to work collectively. I am giving back to the sport and happy to do that. I am trying to do things through the eyes of a former athlete. It is about Trinidad and Tobago.” Tansley Thompson, uncle of 2008 Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson, a bronze medallist in the 4X100m relay in London, who is also a boxing promoter, said he hoped the Government would come through on its promises.
“I am sceptical and I want to know if the promises will be kept. My concern is that he won gold... tremendous (but) what about the others?” he asked. Thompson said the idea of naming an aircraft after Walcott was not feasible. He was referring to a Caribbean Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft which is to be named in Walcott’s honour. “To me that is not sustainable. It had several like that in the past and they were flying for a few years and after it was out of service.
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