WORLD Championship 100m bronze medallist Kelly-Ann Baptiste, said she is concerned that the young TT athletes may not fulfil their highest potential if the issue of funding continues to hamper the development of athletes.
Baptiste, talking on local television channel CNC3 , on Thursday night, said she has also had problems receiving funding from the Government to help with her expenses in track and field.
Baptiste was speaking on the heels of the situation where TT sprinter Richard Thompson complained about the lack of support for athletes by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.
Thompson said an exchange of emails between himself and sport development associate at the Ministry Shabir Mohammed over elite funding, showed the lack of respect for local athletes.
In one email, Mohammed questioned if Thompson should be considered an elite athlete if he is injured and not ranked highly on the world stage. Mohammed said, “Your report says that you (Thompson) may be able to fully train in March 2018 and another says that there is no world ranking (100m) for 2017. Can an injured athlete who has no world ranking be elite?” Baptiste, who earned World Championship bronze medals in the women’s 100m event in 2011 and in the women’s 4x100m relay in 2015, said she has also had problems receiving funding in the past. “I did not get anything from the Government in 2011. We did not get anything from them in 2015, and I feel like as women in sport we have done a lot in terms of exposure for the country. In the past I have had paperwork issues with them...but I have just not dealt with TT because I feel like I don’t really want to go through hassle and waste my time and just get into anything with them because of that,” Baptiste said.
Baptiste said it is expensive to be a track and field athlete and support is needed. “My coaching fee is $10,000 US per year. Every week I have massage therapy. I seek two different people - one person charges me $100 and the other person charges me $80. I get acupuncture treatment - that is $60. I buy groceries every week and this is all US.”
Baptiste said she is worried about the younger athletes trying to make a living in the sport. “Not everyone is going to be able to leave TT (and) go to a four-year school, get a scholarship and find a coach overseas. You may have a lot of developmental athletes at home that have very good potential, but it may never be realised because they don’t have the assistance and the help to do it.”