TT athletes walked away with $2 million dollars yesterday, when the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs held a Rewards, Recognition and Cheque Presentation ceremony at the National Racquet Centre, in Tacarigua.
Athletes who medalled at the 2015 World Championships, 2015 World Youth Championships, 2016 Olympic Games, 2016 Paralympic Games, 2016 ICC Women’s World T20, 2016 ICC Under-19 World Cup and the 2019 Special Olympics were among those who took home cheques.
Some of the athletes who were present to collect their awards were: Paralympic athlete Nyoshia Cain, women’s 100m and 200m sprinter Reyare Thomas and West Indies Women’s cricketers Merissa Aguilleira and Britney Cooper.
Others who attended the function were the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe, director at the Sport Company of TT Hayden Mitchell, vice-president of the TT Olympic Committee Ephraim Serrette and TT’s first Olympic gold medallist Hasely Crawford, who yesterday celebrated the 43-year anniversary of that accomplishment.
Mitchell said he understands the amount of preparation that takes place leading up to a competition. “This of course is a journey. What we see on the podium is the end result. The public does not see the hours and the years of hard work that goes into producing this final product, which is winning gold, silver or bronze or just competing in some of these competitions is an accomplishment by itself. I want to challenge you athletes to continue along your journey.”
Cudjoe said, “It is a unique privilege and distinct honour to stand here before all these heroes, trailblazers, movers and shakers of the national sporting fraternity. Almost every week our athletes are off competing somewhere flying our flag high and making us proud.”
Aguilleira, who was part of the team that won the 2016 Women’s World T20, was thankful for the recognition.
“I am really pleased that they took up this initiative to give us something, because we have been working so hard and it’s always good to be rewarded for your success and all your hard work behind the scenes. A lot of people don’t understand the kind of struggles that athletes go through, so it is really good to see that the Government took up this initiative to make sure that the athletes get something.”
Aaliyah Harrigan and Shania Surujbally competed at the 2019 Special Olympics in equestrian and swimming respectively. Harrigan, 16, who is also hoping to compete at the 2023 Special Olympics, said, “I feel happy and proud (to get the reward).”
Surujbally, 20, said she wants to swim everyday ahead of the 2023 Games. Surujbally’s mother Marilyn said, “I am happy that the minister awarded the children and recognised what they are doing in Special Olympics.”