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Our athletes must be treated better, now too

Wednesday, August 16, 2017
T&T’s Keshorn Walcott makes an attempt in the men’s javelin qualification during the World Athletics Championships in London PHOTO: AP

Despite the glorious gold medal achieved by T&T’s 4x400 men’s team in the relays final, added to the individual bronze medal from Jereem Richards in the 200 metres final, the theme at these World Championships was not about “Team”, but it was rather “Theme”—that our athletes must be treated better.

Nearly every single athlete, whether individually or collectively had a distinctive message, a painstaking plea, a selfless confession, a rudimentary cry…. a distinctive message.

The question remains—will those in authority finally?

At the IAAF World Championship which ended on Sunday in London, England, the Mascot was named—Hero.

Out of 205 countries that participated, T&T finished tied for 18th place on the medal table with six other countries, with two medals, a gold and a bronze medal.

T&T athletes will not be inconvenienced to imagine and hope that someone can become a hero in their sport, to save them and the youngsters following in their footsteps.

In the best book I have ever read—To Kill a Mocking Bird—Atticus, an honest lawyer, asked the question— which should purvey every conversation on life and love.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

In case you live in space, or your head was buried somewhere dark and dirty, our athletes have not received the necessary funding from the relevant authorities—the Ministry of Sports and SporTT for one not so good reason or another. In fact some, have not received funding since 2015.

The current elite funding system appears to be a total failure and is a sad indictment on the technocrats, who seem to care less for the sporting endeavors of our athletes and more for their willful position and blatant disregard for fair play. A lot of them hide behind innuendos and paperwork and forget the reality is, their wheels of justice move far too slow, for organisations that have over 100 staff members. In fact, without our sportsmen and sportswomen, there would be no need to employ them.

And while it is fair to admit that some athletes may have been the cause of their own downfall, intrinsically, it is the responsibility of those with the powers to ensure that objectivity replaces the current brazen ineptitude or inefficiency that is handed out to our athletes.

A close friend of mine who is very much involved in sports said these words after the 4x400 metres team gold medal run: “Amazing, so proud of them, but it will all start and end there. Sorry, I’ve seen it to many times.”

From Richard Thompson, not being supported, to Michelle-Lee Ahye not being given the recognition for her tremendous performances in the Rio Olympics of reaching three finals.

Far less our sprinters, quarter milers, hurdlers such as Jehue Gordon (Gold Medallist the World Championships in 2013) being stripped of his dignity and treated as a nobody, and ignored by those in power to our field athletes. The stinging feeling of neglect, of turpentine distaste, or parochial envy is in the air.

However, there is a strong sense that something has to happen now!

This cannot be allowed to fester among our athletes, otherwise things will get far worse before they ever get better.

It is amazing that the relevant authorities do not understand “The Feel Good” nature of sports, and what it can do, for a country. Something to be happy about. So instead of pontificating about the problems in the sports, let us attempt to fairly work with our athletes and try to reach a logical agreement on their behalf as the way forward.

It is foolhardy to take the words of our athletes personally, but given the thin-skinned officials in our sports, that’s very possible. Instead, they must accept that they have made errors of judgment whether it is sins of omission or lack of compassion.

It is never too late to repair damage, once the entire structure has not fallen down. If there is truly love and care in existence, then I firmly believe that all parties can find a comfortable solution.

In conclusion some more words of Atticus Finch must be noted in sports and particularly to those that pull the purse strings of sports in this country: “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”


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