Land for Lalonde
By NALINEE SEELAL and JONATHAN RAMNANANSINGH Sunday, August 19 2012
OLYMPIC bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon, the only Tobagonian to ever win a medal in the Olympics will be honoured tomorrow when he is presented with a bag of goodies by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Sunday Newsday understands that the bronze medal winner in the 400m flat race in the recently concluded Olympics is to be presented with land in Tobago, cash, a chance to further pursue his education and a building in Tobago to be named after him, among other gifts.
Sunday Newsday was reliably informed that on Monday at 9.30 am, Lalonde and other Olympian winners will pay a courtesy call on Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Orville London.
Following that meeting Lalonde and the other bronze Olympic winners will proceed to Market Square in Tobago where they will be joined by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and members of government, who will address Tobagonians and announce plans to present several gifts to Lalonde.
The Prime Minister and members of government together with Lalonde will then proceed on a motorcade to various parts of Tobago, where Tobagonians will get the opportunity to meet with the bronze Olympic champ.
Yesterday sources revealed the Prime Minister and a special team were busy at work trying to iron out details of how Lalonde will be honoured, and Sunday Newsday understands the Tobago House of Assembly was also assisting in those preparations.
Sunday Newsday also understands there are plans to honour the Olympic champs with national awards. Contacted yesterday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar confirmed the meeting at Market Square in Tobago and the motorcade. However she declined to state specifically what will be given to Lalonde during her address in Tobago tomorrow.
The Prime Minister said she will be spending Eid, which will be celebrated today by staying at home with her family. Meanwhile, Lalonde who was flanked by relatives, members of the government, reporters and cameramen soon after he arrived at the VIP Lounge of the Piarco International Airport on Saturday told the gathering “There is more to come.”
Lalonde, who claimed bronze in the Men’s 400m and Men’s 4x400m Relay (with Ade Allyene-Forte, Jarrin Solomon and Deon Lendore) at the Games of the 30th Olympiad, displayed similar signs of shyness and humility as he quietly strolled into the VIP Lounge yesterday. A hearty applause and loads of congratulatory remarks began bolting out of the mouths of almost every media representative present, to welcome Trinidad and Tobago’s first Olympic podium finish at the 2012 London Games.
Dressed in a plaid shirt and casual khaki pants, Lalonde’s graceful presence virtually lit up the entire lounge as if TT were witnessing his first Olympic bronze medal performance once more. Accompanied by his mother Cynthia Cupid and Minister of Sport Anil Roberts, Gordon was firstly greeted by the president of the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) Ephraim Serrette and proudly embraced by the organisation’s secretary, Alan Baboolal. The 23-year-old double Olympic bronze medallist then quietly sat down as if the media were still waiting for the Olympian to arrive.
In his short speech which followed oral presentations by Serrette, Roberts and SPORTT representative Adrian Raymond, Lalonde blushed at the cameras and stated in the most humble and reserved voice, “First I’d like to thank God for giving me this opportunity. I’d like to thank my coach Trevor Greene, my mom and dad and the whole of Trinidad and Tobago. It was great going out there and making you guys (TT) proud. Thanks for all those who supported me and had my back. There’s more to come.”
Upon hearing this, the VIP Lounge erupted in celebration and applauded. He was then presented with two commemorative plaques which displayed images of himself on the Olympic podium (400m) and another with him and the rest of 4x400m team by Minister Roberts from the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT). Roberts openly stated that this was merely a small token of appreciation from SPORTT.
When asked after the welcome about his double bronze performance, Gordon showed similar shy signs that javelin gold medallist Keshorn Walcott displayed last Monday. While he was elated with his medal haul, the 400m runner gave short but precise answers.
“I felt good knowing that this is what I wanted to do all my life and I know I made my country proud that day. I just thank God. After the semi-finals, I didn’t want to show too much excitement, just wanted to stay humble and save myself for the finals,” he explained.
In recognition of her son’s stalwart achievements, Cynthia Cupid recalled her experience that day, when her son bagged bronze for the twin island republic.
“I was so proud of my boy and to know how hard he worked to achieve this. I was jumping up and down when I realised we (TT) had third place. I knew they could do it. And I sat down and spoke with each athlete before both races (400m, 4x400m) and told them that they were going to medal. I just knew it and it happened. When the relay team won another bronze, it was the best feeling for me knowing my son had just received his second Olympic medal. I was ecstatic,” she proudly revealed.
The sports minister held in high regard the achievements of the debut-Olympian and highlighted his performance, especially as a Tobago-bred athlete.
“Let us be real and let us be sincere, every one of our Olympic qualifiers did Trinidad and Tobago proud. Everyone of them is deserving of accolades of praise. Here we are now with the first Tobagonian athlete to ever win an Olympic medal, to get two bronze medals in one of the greatest, stylish, technical manners possible, Mister Lalonde Gordon,” he stated.