THE EDITOR: Recently, former minister of sport Darryl Smith announced a new policy for athletes. Medallists in the Olympic Games (OG) and the World Championships (WC) are to be rewarded monetarily. The sums awarded are: Gold medallists TT$1,000,000; silver $500,000 and bronze $250,000.
These two competitions were selected because they stand at the pinnacle of international games. They are global in scope. At the last Olympic Games 205 countries competed in Rio; 212 participated at the WC; 71 countries competed at the Commonwealth Games (CG) at the Gold Coast in Australia.
The standards for athletes to compete at the CG are lower than those at the OG and the WC. That’s precisely why no world records in athletics were broken at the recent CG and eight world records were broken at the Rio OG; 29 world records have been broken at the World Championships since their inception (1983).
In sum, it is infinitely more difficult to win gold at the OG and the WC. TT won zero medals at the OG on six occasions and to date, two gold medals. Since the World Championships began our team has won 15 medals including three gold; at the CG (1930) 56 medals including 10 gold. That’s why the OG and the WC reach the stratosphere in sports.
The above is not intended to devalue the medals won by our athletes at the CG but to indicate that it is more difficult to win medals at the OG and WC. Once upon a time the OG, the CG, and the Pan American Games (PAG) were the major games around but the last two have been overtaken by the WC. The Diamond League meets run by the IAAF are of similar quality as the OG and the WC. It is possible for athletes to win US$100,000 at the end of the season. Unfortunately, none of our athletes have accomplished this feat so far.
Now that the new policy has come into effect we heard talk of rewards for the CG, the PAG, and the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC), the last sub-regional in nature. What’s next, Carifta and running around the block? So now we have major league, minor league, and mini league games. Are our athletes not able to cut it in the majors?
Don’t talk about rewards as incentives for athletes because that holds no water. I didn’t know that we had that much money. What about some for the General Hospital I visited last week, and for struggling youngsters to replace those athletes who have overstayed their time? I fully support the new policy and incentives for athletes in the major league. The rewards for the minors and the minis seem as subsidies. Best of luck to the new sports minister.
Basil Ince, PAG gold & silver, medallist