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Government gives $1.4m to athletes

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith, fifth from left, and Sports Company of T&T chairman Michael Phillips, fourth from right, along with T&T Olympic hopefuls at a press conference yesterday where many of them received cheques towards their Olympic preparations. PHOTO: JELANI BECKLES

With less than six months until the start of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, 15 T&T Olympic hopefuls including Keshorn Walcott and Cleopatra Borel, received $1.4 million in total from government towards their preparation.

The athletes and some of their family members collected cheques from the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith at a press conference held at the VIP Room of the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

Among those benefitting from the elite athlete funding are track and field athletes Walcott, Borel, Aleena Brooks, Machel Cedenio, Jehue Gordon, Jamal James, Emmanuel Mayers, Jarrin Solomon, Reyare Thomas, Kamaria Durant and Quincy Wilson.

Other athletes receiving cheques were Marlon Moses and Clement Marshall in shooting, squash player Kale Wilson and swimmer Dylan Carter as they aim to qualify for the Olympics which takes place from August 5-21. T&T sailor Andrew Lewis, who was in attendance, is the only T&T athlete to qualify for the Rio Olympics thus far.

Sport Company of T&T chairman Michael Phillips said that he knows the sacrifices that athletes make on a daily basis. He said, “We recognise what an athlete’s job is and that is pain. Some of you go through more pain than others. Injury, training, the pain of watching your friends go out and have a good time and you have to stay home. 

You have to watch what you eat. You want to do what other people are doing but you can’t. Our job is to bring some level of assurance and stability to the equation where we recognise your effort, we put resources behind your efforts.”

He added that athletes need to be grateful when receiving financial assistance. “I would like to congratulate everyone who is about to receive assistance, understand the responsibility. A lot of people would have applied for funding and the structure and criteria that we have still may not allow for everybody who fits in that criteria to be assisted. You will be the crème de la crème of all of those applications that would have come in and with that you take with you responsibility. 

Even if you go to Rio and don’t win a medal you have to come back here and bring back experience so others can learn from you.” Smith pleaded with the sporting fraternity to let sports be about the athletes. Smith said, “I am pleading to let sport be about the athletes. 

Let it be about the people on the field, on the pitch, in the pools. Don’t let the shows and sports news be about the administrators and the bacchanal happening in the background. Let us support from the background, listen to the athletes and let them shine. Use this money wisely.”