In this instalment, we feature Tobago's 26-year-old Akeem Stewart, HBM (Gold), world star para-athlete in the sports of shot put, javelin throw and discus throw. "Sports do not build character, they help reveal it." Stewart who is classed as F43/F44, designated for athletes with limb deficiencies in the field of Para-Athletics, in his case a congenital leg length difference impairment, started his para athletic career on the world stage in Medellin, Colombia in 2013. Setbacks of one nature or another did not deter Stewart who has persevered and with his coach, Wade Franklin and others, have surmounted them all revealing his strong and inspirational character.
Encouraged by his rugby playing father Wayne to take up sports at the age of five, young Akeem showed his prowess from that early age.
Last year Stewart travelled to Japan to shoot a documentary on his life journey for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games. In it he tells of the beginning of his career in Tobago to becoming a two-time record holder and double-medallist at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (gold in the men's javelin and silver in the men's discus) and at the 2017 World Para-Athletic Championships in London, England (gold in both javelin and shot put).
Among his many awards and honours
*2017 Humming Bird Medal (HBM), Gold.
*In May 2017 he carried the Queen's Baton in T&T during the relay ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
*2016 Sportsman of the Year at the Tobago House of Assembly Sport Awards in T&T.
*2016 Male Athlete of the Year by the Tobago Falcons Athletic Club.
*T&T's flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
*2015 Sports Personality of the Year by the T&T Olympic Committee [TTOC].
*In 2015 he received a Sporting Achievement Award from the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport in T&T
*First athlete from T&T to win a gold medal at the Parapan American Games when he triumphed in the F44 discus in 2015 in Toronto.
In 2017 he was ranked as the number one javelin throw and shot put para-athlete in the world and fifth in the discus throw event. “The road is never easy but if you work hard and give it your all you will succeed” says Stewart.
“So far this year 2018 I have mainly focused on competing against the able bodied athletes and I felt that I was very successful. I went to Gold Coast Australia and made the men shot put finals and placed 9th overall which was a great accomplishment for me. I also had the opportunity to throw against the IAAF world champion and many other great throwers. I'm currently starting my off season training, focusing on my weak points and different aspects of my throwing rehabilitation which is also very important as 2019 is going to be a great year as I have two world titles to defend and hopefully a third one to win. In 2020 it will be the Tokyo Paralympics and Olympics so I'm taking things one step at a time”
Editor's Note: Health Net/Lab Medica Group will be co-sponsoring a fund raising T20 cricket match for the Cerebral Palsy Society of T&T at the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium on September 29th 2018. The game will feature many of our T20 cricket stars.