“Legends in Sport” recipients felt truly distinguished when they took the stage at the Ballroom of the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre in Port-of-Spain on Thursday night, to receive accolades bestowed on them for the their contributions to sport in T&T. The controversy that erupted within the sporting community over the final list of nominees did not overshadow the night as T&T sporting greats were celebrated. The ceremony was used to recognise 50 of this country’s most outstanding sporting moments and personalities in celebration of T&T’s 50th anniversary of Independence. Former national footballer Sedley Joseph, retired cricketer Deryck Murray and former administrator Willie Rodriguez, all stood by the decisions of organiser of the event All Sport Promotions headed by Anthony Harford and the selection committee, on the final list of awardees. Joseph said, “I consider this a prestigious award because it’s not going to happen in our lifetime again. I felt honoured to be part of this function. It was a brilliant opportunity to meet a lot of the chaps we knew when we played competitively in the 60s. I saw a lot of them tonight, for instance Edwin Roberts; I haven’t seen him for many years. He went to Belmont Intermediate, the same school I went to. I remember Edwin going in the (Queen’s Park) Savannah to train with his running shoes in his hand. From there he kept going and going until he became a real top class athlete as we all know him to be.”
Roberts was a member of the T&T relay team in 1964 and 1966 (4x440 yards). His teammates were Wendell Mottley, Kent Bernard, Edwin Skinner and Lennox Yearwood. Murray shared that it was a great honour to be recognised and cited that it could not have been easy for the panel to settle on the final list of awardees having only 50 spot to work with. The former T&T Cricket Board of Control president added there will always be people who could have been included and that any type of uneasiness arising out of the award ceremony was actually a good thing, since it meant that T&T had great talent. Murray lauded the intent of the organising committee to have the video biographies and a recording of the night’s programme placed in the national archives as brilliant. Rodriguez, a former national footballer and West Indies cricketer, said the selection panel for the “Legends in Sports” ceremony was an approved one with the qualifications to make the selections that they did.
“I have to accept that the 50 were selected on merit. There is no reason to doubt that it should have been any different,” he said. Rodriguez is convinced that at this stage in T&T’s history the time had come for a sport museum that would allow citizens and visitors to local shores to access information on the country growth in the area of sport and know the persons that etched glory.
“For us to go forward, we have to know where we came from if we divorce our past from what we anticipate we want to do in the future, then we are not going to reach to far doing that. Any historically information we can get not even about our sporting heroes, but our sporting history will be something that we can treasure and use to our advantage for us to go forward,” he said. While Hasely Crawford, T&T first Olympic gold medallist was in attendance to receive his accolade, Keshorn Walcott, the Caribbean newest sporting sensation following his London 2012 Olympic gold achievement in the javelin event, could not make it because the state sponsored parade for athletes from the Olympic went into overtime. Sports Minister Anil Roberts accepted the award on his behalf. Olympic bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon was unable to attend and was represented by Ephraim Serrette, president of the National Amateur Athletics Association (NAAA). Guests at the ceremony that included Wade Mark, speaker of the House of Representatives, Congress of the People (COP) political leader Prakash Ramadhar still had a lot of other sporting stars to toast, like legendary batsman Brian Charles Lara, along with former T&T footballers Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy. Also taking the spotlight in the event which was also a collaboration of the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development were four-time “Sportswoman of the Year”, Debra O’Connor (badminton), Sandra Charles-Montano (hockey), successful jockey Emile Ramsammy, Maria Nunes (golf) and Roger Gibbon (cycling).