National Association of Athletics Administrations of Trinidad and Tobago

media_artricles :: 2017


Joyless achievement

Fazeer Mohammed :: Trinidad Express :: 29.01.2017

Big up the President, everybody!

Our titular Head of State, while generally accepted to be among the nation's premier legal luminaries, hasn't really been noted during his time in the top job for public utterances that could be characterised as either visionary or luminous.

That is until his recommendation last Thursday to the head of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee for the quartet of Richard Thompson, Marc Burns, Keston Bledman and Emmanuel Callender to be presented with the gold medals – once their elevation is confirmed, of course – from the 2008 Games in Beijing at the next edition of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

Even as he is recovering from the exertions of a third T&T International Marathon to raise awareness of the TTOC's elite athletes' fund, Brian Lewis should at the very least explore that possibility, for it will represent at least some compensation, however minuscule, at being deprived of the joy of victory.

Look, it is all well and good to acknowledge that justice is being done, even if it comes eight-and-a-half years after the occasion.

Their status as Olympic gold medallists and this country's third gold medal (should it be the second, seeing that the event was four years before Keshorn Walcott's golden javelin throw in London?) will now adorn the record books forever more assuming, again, that all the processes go as planned following the disqualification of the Jamaican team due to the positive test returned by Nesta Carter.

However none of that, or even some additional financial compensation, will ever get anywhere close to sufficing for missing out on the victorious moment, the acclaim of the tens of the thousands in the stands, the global attention they would have attracted and, inevitably, the uninhibited jubilation back at home. It's no wonder that Burns and Callender sounded at best lukewarm on Friday at the prospect of being elevated to gold medal status in the most prestigious of all athletic competitions. To put it simply: the moment has passed.

Fait accompli

Yes, everyone will try their very best to make the most of that occasion when they are presented with the golds, which experienced athletics reporter Kwame Laurence has suggested is a fait accompli.

But a measure of how low-key the whole belated experience really feels is measured by the international media's preoccupation with Usain Bolt losing one of his nine Olympic gold medals while hardly any of the reporting has lingered on Trinidad and Tobago replacing the Jamaicans at the top of the rostrum.

At its very core, sport is about competition, and competition is about winning and losing, and winning is about a moment of triumph, an instantaneous explosion of emotion, of screams and shouts and tears and high-fives and flag-draped victory laps and soaking in the unforgettable images of the moments when all of that effort, all that striving produces something few have dreamt of and even fewer have experienced.

Only this past weekend we saw what that moment is all about at the conclusion of tennis' first Grand Slam event of the year. Serena Williams' defeat of elder sister Venus might have been relatively straightforward in Saturday's Australian Open women's singles final in Melbourne, yet her reaction at the second her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title was accomplished and the effusive praise of Venus at the trophy presentation were typical of the emotional roller-coaster that overwhelms even the most accomplished of sporting superstars.

Yesterday, it was Roger Federer's turn to be overcome, a successful television replay challenge of a line call triggering the celebratory tears in the culmination of a five-set duel with arch-rival Rafael Nadal, both men among the greatest of all time and acknowledged gentlemen of their sport who have battled back from difficult 2016 experiences to upset the odds and reach the big stage of the men's singles at Rod Laver Arena.

For Thompson, Burns, Bledman and Callender, that moment will never be experienced, even if, sooner rather than later, they carry the title of "Olympic champion" alongside their names for the rest of their days.

Those images of Jamaican celebration at the conclusion of the event will never change. No amount of editing of the YouTube videos of the race will alter the sight of Asafa Powell, handed the baton by Bolt well ahead of the field, powering to the finish line comfortably ahead of Thompson, who ran a brilliant leg in blazing past the anchors of Japan and Brazil.

So if silver is to be turned into gold after so much time has passed, what's wrong with waiting three more years for a proper medal presentation in a proper Olympic setting? It's the least they deserve.

Kudos to "TC" for the suggestion. All that high-quality wine may not be a total waste of taxpayers' money after all.

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Joyless achievement
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BUOYANT MOOD: Keston Bledman, left, Richard "Torpedo" Thompson, Marc Burns and Emmanuel Callender are in buoyant mood following their silver run in the men's 4x100 metres final, at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. The Trinidad and Tobago sprinters are set to be upgraded to gold following last week's disqualification of Jamaican sprinter Nesta Carter for a doping infraction. —Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

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