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Tuesday 10 December 2019
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‘Take a page out of Akeem’s book’

Charles lauds 2019 Parapan Am champ

Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles presents 2019 Parapan Am double medallist Akeem Stewart with a bouquet of flowers at a ceremony to welcome him home on Tuesday at the ANR Robinson International Airport.
Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles presents 2019 Parapan Am double medallist Akeem Stewart with a bouquet of flowers at a ceremony to welcome him home on Tuesday at the ANR Robinson International Airport.

Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles has implored youths to emulate world record holder and 2019 Parapan Am double medallist Akeem Stewart.

Stewart, 27, returned home from Peru on Tuesday evening with one gold and one silver medal. These have been added to an already impressive trophy cabinet which includes multiple Paralympic and World Para Championships medals.

Charles said, "Take a page out of Akeem's book, because Akeem would have demonstrated over the years a kind of tenacity of spirit, a kind of determination, a kind of enterprise that allowed him to consistently make these achievements.

"It is the kind of performance that is worthy of emulation because what he has also shown is that notwithstanding your challenges in life, once you commit yourself to excellence and once you take note of your circumstances, you can in fact do well. Therefore, we cannot overemphasise that."

Charles also acknowledged the role played by Stewart's father, Wayne, in his sporting development.

"I think that augurs well but it also sends a message to the rest of us, that as parents, we have a responsibility to support our children in their particular fields of endeavour, be it sports, be it academics, be it vocation, be it culture, be it art, be it drums. We have a responsibility to support our children as they strive for excellence."

The Chief Secretary also commended coach Wade Franklyn for his contribution to Stewart's success.

"You have been in the vanguard and in the field of coaching for quite some time. You have indeed received, in respect of your rewards and a return of your investment of time and energy, in number of successes. We also want to commend you for that."

Charles said Stewart has given Tobago a golden gift for the country's 57th anniversary of Independence.

"And we couldn't want anything better than that from a Tobagonian."

In his first comments to local media since his exploits in Peru, Stewart said he is already looking to better that feat at the World Para-Athletics Championships in Dubai on November 15.

Stewart clinched Parapan gold in the men's F64 discus event with a winning distance of 63.70m, exceeding the World and Pan American F43 record of 63.03m he set at the Parapan Games in Toronto. He beat the United States' Jeremy Campbell and Cuba's Fonseca Gerdan, who copped silver and bronze respectively.

Stewart also claimed silver in the men's javelin F64 with a throw of 55.42m. Brazil's Jeffe De Lima won that event.

In 2015, Stewart won gold in the men's discus and javelin events at the Parapan Games in Toronto, Canada, becoming the country's first-ever Parapan Am champion.

A year later, Stewart repeated the feat in the men's javelin throw but got a silver medal in men's discus at the Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The athlete said he felt a sense of accomplishment in breaking his personal record in last week's discus event in Peru.

"I felt great knowing that I did not have much competition, coming into this season with the discus. But I also had faith and confidence in my talent and ability. So I went up and did my best, broke the world record," said Stewart.

Saying his attention is now focused on the World Para-Athletics Championships in November, Stewart said he wants to break the world record again by winning both the discus and javelin events in Dubai.

Star para athlete Akeem Stewart, second from left, with members of the Scarborough Secondary Alumni Association after returning home from the Parapan Am Games. PHOTO COURTESY THA

He will then prepare for next year's Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Asked if the cold conditions in Peru affected his performance, Stewart said: "I went to compete. I could not study the weather because that would have hampered me from performing. So I just went out there and had fun. On my fourth try I broke the world record and from there the momentum started."

Stewart said he is slightly disappointed he did not return with two gold medals.

"I wanted to come back home with two golds. Unfortunately, I did not. The javelin competition was tough.

"But I am still thankful to come back home with the medals and make my country and family proud."

Stewart thanked the THA and his family and fans for their support over the years.

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