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Friday 15 December 2017
Track & Field

Smith promises sports policy by year’s end

2017 World champs (from left) Jarrin Solomon, Lalonde Gordon, Machel Cedenio and Jereem Richards pose after winning gold in the 4x400 final in London.

The World 4x400-metre men’s relay champions have written to the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs requesting equitable treatment for their golden performance at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, England.

In a letter dated October 3, Jarrin Solomon, Jereem Richards, Machel Cedenio, Lalonde Gordon and reserve Renny Quow listed instances where local athletes were rewarded by Goverment for outstanding accomplishments – the 2006 World Cup football team, Keshorn Walcott at the 2012 Olympics and Jehue Gordon at the 2013 World Championships, to name a few.

“To date, we have not been contacted by any organisation, Government official or sporting body regarding any recognition or celebration of our World Championship performance,” the TT quartet said.

“In keeping with the precedent set in the country, as well as aligning with the above policies, we would expect that we would be receiving a reward similar to those that have achieved sport greatness before us and to further support the sport environment by encouraging those behind us, that if they work hard and achieve greatness, they will be rewarded.”

However, Sports Minister Darryl Smith said yesterday that he is hopeful that a new sports policy, which will feature a reward and incentive policy for all athletes, would be approved before the end of 2017.

“I’ve been speaking to the public, through the media, for months now,” Smith said. “The athletes, the NGBs (National Governing Bodies) and the other stakeholders were part of our new sports policy which I mentioned was in front of the Cabinet. Part of that is, for the first time in our history, having a reward and incentive policy for all athletes.

“We’re hoping that before the year ends, that would be resolved and that the Cabinet would make a decision,” Smith noted. “I would only be guided by Cabinet, it’s not my decision.”

He continued, “Previously, because it wasn’t a policy and the law, various (Sports) Ministers literally used that as a political football. Once that is approved by the Cabinet, I always put in place to be retro(active) for a period of time – I’m hoping that is approved as well...Part of our policy that we’re putting was to go retro from since our party came into power. It was put in based on the feedback that we’ve got from the consultations. That should be done for the last two years.”

A member of TT’s victorious 4X4 World Championship team, speaking to Newsday yesterday, said it would have been courteous for the ministry to respond to their letter.

“I don’t know if anybody else got any response. I haven’t gotten any response. I honestly don’t know their situation but I would have liked to get a response. We didn’t give anyone any time frame. We know how Trinidadian people tend to forget stuff after 10 days and everything will be just swept under the carpet. We wanted to just bring awareness to the letter that we wrote and hear what they had to say about it,” he said.

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