TT’s first Olympic gold medallist Hasely Crawford’s legacy has been immortalised in a comic book titled A Runner’s Life – Lessons from an Olympian, a project undertaken by the National Gas Company (NGC) and the Heroes Foundation, a non-profit NGB.
The publication was launched yesterday at the National Library, Port of Spain, where schoolchildren were given copies, before flocking around the 68-year-old Olympian for his signature.
An exhibition highlighting Crawford’s achievements, initiated by NGC’s National Heroes Project, was also handed over to Nalis for a new permanent home.
The 28-page comic book offers a dramatised reconstruction of events and dialogue, as told by Crawford in interviews, books, news articles and documentaries produced since his gold-medal win at the Montreal 1976 Games.
“I tried to use this book for young children and teachers, to let the young people know that to win an Olympic gold medal, it’s not a bed of roses. It’s a lot of trials and tribulations, a lot of problems you have to go through and set-backs. So the book reflects all of that,” Crawford said in an interview with Newsday after the book launch.
For the foundation, the comic book is intended as a timeless tribute to Crawford’s achievements through a medium most appropriate for a heroic figure, and one which would inspire the country’s youth.
“There is a method to the madness,” said Philip Julien, founder and chairman of the Heroes Foundation and the book’s editor.
“Comic books are a very effective medium of telling, in an engaging manner, meaningful stories that are more engaging to many people than a traditional book.”
The comic depicts Crawford’s introduction to sprinting as a schoolboy in San Fernando and his journey to the Olympic Games, culminating with the famous 100m sprint which put TT on the world map and caused weeks of celebration around the country.
It was written by Dr Reisha Seebaransingh, with illustrations, cover and colours by Shaun Riaz Mohammed, and lettering, graphic design and pre-press by Rangie Persad.
Crawford, a Trinity Cross recipient, was TT’s first and only gold Olympic medallist until Keshorn Walcott stunned the world by winning the men’s javelin at the London 2012 Games. TT’s 4x100m relay team of Richard Thompson, Marc Burns, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender and Aaron Armstrong are the only other gold winners after nearly a decade since the 2008 Beijing 4x100m as a result of Jamaica’s disqualification.
In the book’s preamble, Crawford laments a lack of exploration of the country’s true potential.
“There is talent tucked away in all corners of this country that lies idle and untapped. For want of proper equipment, or adequate nutrition, or perhaps the keen eye of a teacher to spot potential, many of our gifted athletes may never surface, let alone shine,” Crawford wrote.
“A country with our wealth and aspirations needs to do better by its young people. Mind, you recognition and support of talent is only half the battle. Equally important,” he continued, “is the determination of the individual and his or her family to make something of that ability. Anyone with ambitions of success and achievement can triumph with the right attitude and effort.” The publication coincides with the culmination of a year-long tribute to Crawford, the first person honoured by NGC’s National Heroes Project, which is aimed at raising awareness of and appreciation for men and women who have brought honour to the nation through their work and achievements.
The first printed copies of the books were collected by representatives for distribution to their respective schools.