AN icon and an inspiration was how Granny Luces was remembered by Government ministers, runners and local sport officials following her death, on Thursday.
Granny Luces, an avid long-distance TT runner, was 93. Luces, who suffered a stroke in October, died at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex on Thursday morning.
Luces is popularly known for participating and completing long-distance races throughout TT and the world. She got involved in the sport at a late age making her marathon debut in 1984, and since then, she has been a favourite among spectators and competitors. Granny Luces received the Hummingbird Medal Gold in 2013.
A statement from the Office of the President, said, “Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes ORTT President of the Republic of TT joins with the nation in paying tribute to the inimitable Granny Luces, long-distance runner extraordinaire and national hero who died today (Thursday).”
The release continued, “Her athleticism in her senior years served as a defiant push-back against ageism particularly as it affects females in TT. She inspired many, both female and male, to take up long-distance running. Indeed, the impetus for many a marathon participant to pick up the pace was ‘Don’t let Granny beat you!’”
Weekes admired what she accomplished, saying, “Her Excellency well remembers completing a few of the TT marathons in which Granny also participated and remained in awe of Granny’s unfailing stamina and enduringly youthful spirit...you have run well Granny, your time to rest in eternal peace is at hand. Thank you for inspiring a nation.”
Sport minister Shamfa Cudjoe, who also reflected on the life of former national footballer Larry Joseph who died on Wednesday, said, “Today the entire sporting fraternity is plunged into mourning. Both Granny Luces and Larry Joseph have carved indelible marks in their respective disciplines, which will be hard to replicate. They were true sporting warriors, and the Government and people of TT are indeed grateful for their messages of hope, resilience, persistence and patriotism. May they rest in peace.”
The Ministry of Sport and Community media release, added, “She has been an icon in sport and a beacon of inspiration for athletes, especially female athletes and ordinary citizens seeking new heights. Her age never defined her ability to conquer the miles she ran, always crossing the finish line victorious.”
At Thursday’s post-Cabinet meeting, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert said as a former long-distance runner he admired Granny Luces. “I use to do long-distance running. I have been in several races where Granny Luces ran.”
While laughing, Imbert added, “I am not sure if she passed me or not she might have. I am not sure, we talking (about) a long time ago, 40 years ago and so on.”
Imbert also described Granny Luces as an “inspiration” and a “tremendous sportswoman.”
Communication Minister Symon de Nobriga, said, “Granny Luces is a national icon...I think that as a nation we will mourn her passing. I know the sporting fraternity, especially the long-distance running fraternity, will most definitely mourn her passing.”
President of the TT Olympic Committee Brian Lewis, reflecting on the contribution of Granny Luces, said, “Inspirational, motivational, an icon...the impact of Granny Luces, I think people underestimate that.”
On starting her long-distance running career in her fifties, Lewis said, “She made it hard for a lot of people to find an excuse not to be active...I recall I think reading in 2016 that she had participated in the Guapo to Pt Fortin race. If you do the arithmetic she had to be in her late 80s because that would have been about five years ago. Granny Luces contribution is incredible. She would have inspired a lot of people to get up and walk even if they did not want to take on the challenge of a marathon.”
TT women’s runner Sjaerlan Evans, said, “Granny Luces was an absolute legend who shaped long-distance running in TT and paved the way for women athletes in our country, inspiring us all to dig deeper within ourselves and strive to be better. A true icon and inspiration. The roads will miss her. May she R(un)IP.”
Veteran TT runner Curtis Cox said he will always remember Granny Luces for being cheerful and for her words of encouragement. Cox, recalling a conversation with Granny Luces, said, “She said I always follow you and I wanted you to win the (TT International Marathon) race, but you always come third or fourth or second, you never win.” Cox said Granny Luces was elated that he finally emerged victorious in the TT International Marathon in 2005.
Francis Williams-Smith, race director of the TT International Marathon, also reflected on her life. “Granny Luces was a symbol of health and fitness in TT via the road running circuit. She showed her true mettle as a participant in the marathon.”
Williams-Smith said the TT International Marathon has developed because of Granny Luces. “She came at a time when the marathon was new and young and she helped build the reputation of the marathon for years to come.”
A University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus media release, said, “Luces was a long-standing supporter and participant at The UWI SPEC International Half-Marathon. For many years, she dominated the Over-70 and Over-80 categories alongside Charles Spooner, who passed away in May 2015 at age 91. At the 2009 race, Luces was honoured with a lifetime achievement award and was presented with a gift of a painting of her portrait from the Campus by staff member and artist Johann Bennett. The painting sought to capture the intensity of the veteran sportswoman in action.”