Dear Editor: T&T Gov’t disrespected Beijing 4x100m team by not properly acknowledging their gold medals

“[…] Trinidad and Tobago is now in possession of three gold medals at the highest level of the sport, which is the true measure of the performance of athletes.

“Our failure to properly recognise the 2008 Olympic 4×100 metre champion athletes is incomprehensible, despicable, unfair, unjust, improper and a disservice to the sport…”

Photo: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games 4x100m gold medalists (from left, back row) Aaron Armstrong, Emmanuel Callender, Richard Thompson, (from left, front row) Keston Bledman and Marc Burns.
(via TTOC)

The following Letter to the Editor on the perceived lack of State recognition for the gold medals (upgraded from silver) won by Trinidad and Tobago Olympians Richard ‘Torpedo’ Thompson, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender, Marc Burns and Aaron Armstrong was submitted to Wired868 by John Campbell:

Amos 5:24: “[…] Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an overflowing stream…”

From the onset, let me extend profound congratulations to the athletes who won medals at the Commonwealth Games and subsequently were awarded national awards by the State.

KFC Munch Pack

It is my view that the sport of track and field is experiencing a downward trend in performance, not only at the World Championships and Olympic Games but also at the World Junior and regional levels. The performances of track and field, cycling and aquatics were able to provide a fillip—an oomph for sport. 

We cannot seem to develop a conveyor belt of athletes that allows for succession. However, this certainly cannot overshadow the silver medal won by the quintet in Beijing which was elevated to a gold medal because of substance abuse by one of the athletes on the Jamaica relay team.

“GOLD” is what the records will eternally reflect. Trinidad and Tobago is now in possession of three gold medals at the highest level of the sport, which is the true measure of the performance of athletes.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinters (from left) Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender, Richard Thompson and Marc Burns celebrate their finish in the 4×100 final of the 2008 Olympic Games at the Beijing National Stadium on 22 August 2008.
(Copyright AFP 2017/ Jewel Samad)

Our failure to properly recognise the 2008 Olympic 4×100 metre champion athletes is incomprehensible, despicable, unfair, unjust, improper and a disservice to the sport. There was not even congratulations from the NAAATT and the State when their gold medal was globally recognised, only the TTOC.

Was there a deliberate attempt to downplay this outstanding feat? Why?

This kind of treatment is a complete violation of the time and investment these athletes made in their preparations over the years, having to combat injuries and other associated issues with the sport.

How do you put a value to Hasely Crawford’s achievement at the 1976 Olympic Games, when he put his hand up on the finish line in exuberance—displaying on his chest “Trinidad and Tobago” for millions to see? Similarly, Ato Boldon in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 and Richard Thompson in Beijing 2008.

Photo: Hasely Crawford (right) raises his arm as he crosses the finish line to win the gold medal in the men’s 100 metre event at the Montreal, Canada Summer Olympics on 24 July 1976.
Jamaica’s Donald Quarrie (far left) finished second.
(Copyright AP Photo/ Pool)

From a marketing perspective, how do you put a value to that act, which they did at no cost?

Who advised the Minister of Sport and other State officials on this travesty and miscarriage of injustice?

It is written you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. These are the facts. Notwithstanding the performances by the track and field team at the Commonwealth Games 2022, the 4×100 team failed to qualify—that is, to make the final sixteen—at the World Championships.  

The 4×400 team also failed to medal at the World Championships and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

What can we deduce from this? Well, there is certainly a gap between what the best in the world is doing and Trinidad and Tobago’s methods. 

Photo: Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament)

The Beijing quintet has done yeoman service to Trinidad and Tobago, as outlined hereunder, over time:

2007 NACAC Championships: 39.92 bronze

2008 Summer Olympics: 38.06 gold

2009 World Championships: 37.62 silver

2009 Central American and Caribbean Championships: 38.73 gold

2011 Central American and Caribbean Championships: 38.89 silver

2012 Summer Olympics: 38.12 silver

Photo: (From left) Jamaica gold medalists Michael Frater, Nesta Carter, Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt, and Trinidad and Tobago bronze medalists Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callender and Richard Thompson pose on the podium after the men’s 4×100 relay final at the the London 2012 Olympic Games on 11 August 2012.
Trinidad and Tobago’s bronze medal was subsequently upgraded to silver after a doping violation by US 4x10m team member Tyson Gay.
(Copyright Johannes Eisele/ AFP 2016/ Wired868)

2014 Commonwealth Games: 38.10 bronze

2014 World Relays: 38.04 silver

2015 Pan Am Games: bronze

2016 Summer Olympics: finalists

I urge Whom It May Concern to please correct this anomaly, remembering that the stone that the builders reject will become the chief cornerstone.

Blessings to the Athletic Fraternity.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s 4×100 metre relay team of (from left) Richard Thompson, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callender and Keston Bledman pose with their London 2012 Olympic Games silver medals in a ceremony hosted by then President Anthony Carmona at the Anchorage, Carenage on 29 June 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/ CA Images/ Wired868)

Editor’s Note: On 4 July 2022—after the silver medals won by Richard Thompson, Marc Burns, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender and Aaron Armstrong at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was officially upgraded to gold—Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe issued the following brief statement in a release that was titled Minister Cudjoe expresses satisfaction with Olympic outcome:

“Once again the red, white and black is flown proudly on an international stage. This moment is one that we as citizens can reflect on with pride and emulation as we steer ahead toward the development of our next cohort of extraordinary athletes.”

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