The forthcoming National Sporting Policy will include provisions whereby national athletes, who earn medals at major sporting events, will be rewarded.
So said Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith yesterday, in response to a Facebook post issued by national women’s 100-metre champion Michelle-Lee Ahye.
The 25-year-old Ahye, in a Facebook post on Wednesday, stressed that the TT’s women’s 4x100-metre relay team (Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Ahye, Reyare Thomas and Semoy Hackett), which earned bronze at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, was yet to be recognised for their efforts but the gold-medal winning 2017 IAAF World Championships men’s 4x400m quartet (Jarrin Solomon, Jereem Richards, Machel Cedenio and Lalonde Gordon) was likely to gain recognition and rewards for their success last month in London, England.
Smith, in a telephone interview yesterday, said: “Since 2002, (after) the last national sporting policy (was implemented), we (have been) doing consultations across the country.
“We have a final draft which the Ministry’s technocrats are finalising now and it’s going to be taken to Cabinet in September (this month), where it can be approved,” he continued. “A major part of it will be elite athletes funding, the rewarding of athletes, the grassroots policy, the sports tourism and so on. But the major part of it is the rewarding of athletes, and how we deal with elite athletes at the grassroots (level).”
In her post, Ahye said, “Ok, so the guys 4x400m got gold at World champs this year, they got a lot of praises and probably going to get rewarded for it. Ok I understand its gold... but back in 2015 the women 4x100m got bronze with a NR (national record) but mind you, that was the first women team to get a medal and up to this day, WE ARE STILL WAITING TO GET RECOGNIZED FOR THAT MEDAL. Smh (shaking my head) but they always recognize when the guys get a medal smh... I’m so over it... I’m really thinking hard about running for another country.”
Smith pointed out, “Right now a lot of athletes are complaining how the current policy, which was there before we came (into office), is cumbersome and not user-friendly. We want to look at that.
“So once it’s presented and approved, the country will be blessed with a new policy,” the Minister continued. “I’m very excited about it and optimistic that, moving forward under this new policy that we can put this to bed for a while. We want to push the athletes to reach as far as possible as they can by supporting them, especially in these tough times.”
He went on to add, “We’re also doing a youth policy as well and that’s going to be launching in 2018.”
Asked if local athletes are so disgruntled by the state of affairs that they may want to switch allegiances, Smith replied, “If an athlete wants to migrate to a next country, for whatever reason, I can’t stop them (from) doing that. It’s a free world and people can make that choice.”
Ahye featured in the women’s 100m at yesterday’s Diamond League meeting in Brussels, Belgium. She placed fourth in 11.07 seconds, the same time as Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, but the Nigerian was adjudged third after a photo-finish.
Olympic 100m champ Elaine Thompson of Jamaica triumphed in 10.92 seconds, followed by Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Ivory Coast, who clocked 10.93.