Home / Rio 2016 / Give us our due! Why T&T’s sprint quartet wants more than shinier medals

Give us our due! Why T&T’s sprint quartet wants more than shinier medals

Trinidad and Tobago’s 4×100 metre relay quartet of Richard “Torpedo” Thompson, Keston Bledman, Marc Burns and Emmanuel Callender finally has the silver medals to match the performance at the London 2012 Olympic Games. But whether the sprinters have the ‘right reward’ to go with their silverware is another story, which continues to frustrate the track team.

“Receiving compensation fitting for the silver is an issue that we have not directly discussed with the Minister of Sport [Darryl Smith] as yet,” Thompson told Wired868, after the ceremony on 29 June 2016. “I expect that in the near future, we will get together to see what can be done.

“I believe that it is only fair that our efforts to fly the flag with honour and integrity is something that should be shown respect.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago's 4x100 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 at the Anchorage, Carenage on 29 June 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)
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 at the Anchorage, Carenage on 29 June 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

At the London Olympics, the team of Bledman, Burns, Callender and Thompson was fourth across the finish line in the 4×100 final on 11 August 2012. However, a disqualification for lane violation by Canada sprinter Jared Connaughton saw Trinidad and Tobago elevated to third place and the quartet returned home with bronze medals.

The Trinidad and Tobago Government rewarded them with TT$300,000 each for their achievement.

It subsequently emerged that United States sprinter Tyson Gay tested positive for performance enhancing drugs at the event and, three years later, the US team was also disqualified.

On 29 June 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sent four silver medals to Port of Spain for the Trinidad and Tobago speedsters. And Bledman, Burns, Callender and Thompson were officially recognised—in a conference attended by President Anthony Carmona and Sport Minister Darryl Smith, no less—as the second fastest team at the London Olympics.

But what the quartet wants to know is: Shouldn’t a second place finish merit a second place reward?

After the Beijing Olympics, the Trinidad and Tobago 4×100 team finished second and received TT$750,000 each for their troubles from the then government—they claimed that there was a financial promise before the 2009 World Championship too, although they never received any returns on their silver at the Berlin event.

Photo: Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago sprinters (from left) Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt, Keston Bledman, Marc Burns and Emmanuel Callender show off their gold and bronze medals respectively after the 4x100 final in London 2012. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago sprinters (from left) Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt, Keston Bledman, Marc Burns and Emmanuel Callender show off their gold and bronze medals respectively after the 4×100 final in London 2012.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Callender, who pointed to the flow of taxpayers’ money through the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago to criminal elements during the controversial Life Sport programme, said their protests are largely about respect for local athletes.

“I think we are all taken for granted in what we have accomplished and we [are] downplayed, disrespected and swept under the rug, two weeks after any accomplishment we have attained. Then it’s on to the next thing.

“Then when we ask for funding, they say we are not elites because we are not ranked in the top 40 in the world. But yet we have one of the three medals in the world everyone is fighting and doping to get.”

Burns agreed. The former El Dorado Senior Comprehensive student was 18 years when he competed in his first major senior global track final at the Edmonton 2001 World Championships and snared silver in a 4×100 metre relay team that included track icon Ato Boldon, Jaycey Harper and Darrel Brown.

Fifteen years later, Burns is, arguably, Trinidad and Tobago’s hardiest sprinter of all time. Certainly nobody else competed at the very top for so long—there were 12 years between Boldon’s first and last major senior international tournaments.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinters (from left) Richard Thompson, Emmanuel Callender, Marc Burns and Keston Bledman on the podium at the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Courtesy AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinters (from left) Richard Thompson, Emmanuel Callender, Marc Burns and Keston Bledman on the podium at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
(Courtesy AFP 2015)

Burns added four more coveted silver medals, two at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and two at the 2005 and 2009 World Championships, to go with silver at the 2003 Pan American Games and two bronze medals at the 2006 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

From Burns’ haul of eight senior medals, only one, bronze at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, was won in an individual event.

His inability to grab the spotlight for himself meant that he—like Callender—has had to survive in the fast lane without the same financial support that his more illustrious colleagues enjoyed.

“To get your full TT$250,000 [subvention from the Ministry of Sport under the Elite Athlete Assistance Programme], you have to be [ranked] in the top ten,” said Burns. “And even then, you get that just before a championships when it is supposed to be for preparations.”

Retired sprinter Aaron Armstrong, who was a member of Trinidad and Tobago’s 4×100 metre team in Beijing, said the Elite Athlete Assistance Programme (EAAP) was riddled with problems and, possibly, corruption.

Photo: Former Sport Minister Anil Roberts (centre), ex-SPORTT Company CEO John Mollenthiel (left) and former SPORTT chairman Sebastien Paddington. The three men were key figures in the controversial Life Sport fiasco. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Former Sport Minister Anil Roberts (centre), ex-SPORTT Company CEO John Mollenthiel (left) and former SPORTT chairman Sebastien Paddington.
The three men were key figures in the controversial Life Sport fiasco.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

He claimed that Trinidad and Tobago athletes often received much less than the money allocated to them. But they stayed silent for fear of being blacklisted.

“Through the years, we all struggled with finances and other adversities [and] the funding that we received came so late that we all were in debt,” Armstrong told Wired868. “We had coaches that charge US$10,000 (TT$66,500) and […] some top athletes didn’t even receive money although the ministry said they did…

“So when we ask about monetary gifts, it’s not that we are being ungrateful. It’s what is owed to us.”

Callender sang from the same hymn sheet.

“Sometimes you get funding so late and you have to pay back all who you owe and borrowed from just to represent your country with pride,” he said. “If the truth be told with what happens and why most of the athletes drop off and how much they put on the line for the people of the country, and, when they speak out, they are blacklisted for speaking the truth. If people knew the truth, they would cry.

“Years now, we have been asking for shelter over our heads and, up to this day, nothing prevailed. But yet they say the country owes you nothing.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago track star Richard Thompson (left) poses with President Anthony Carmona at a ceremony in The Anchorage, Carenage on 29 June 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago track star Richard Thompson (left) poses with President Anthony Carmona at a ceremony in The Anchorage, Carenage on 29 June 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

In fact, the government did offer HDC houses to the sprinters. But they would have to make their downpayment and pay mortgages like everyone else. Burns and Callender baulked at the idea.

“How are we to pay for it when our job is to train and prepare for the Olympics and whatever championships there is?” asked Callender. “We, the athletes, are representing a nation, correct? We go out and fight for country and the people of Trinidad and Tobago and we are proud to do that as I said before.

“But how is it that all the perks go the people who, if you check their resumes, you will see corruption in capital?”

But what about the athletes’ own earnings through appearance fees at lucrative track meets?

Again, Callender explained the financial disparity between the world’s elite sprinters and those who, despite being among the faster runners in the world, are just a fraction of a second slower.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinters (from left) Emmanuel Callender, Richard Thompson, Rondell Sorrillo and Keston Bledman compete at the 100 metre final in the NAAA National Open Championships on 25 June 2016 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. Thompson won gold at the event followed by Sorrillo, Bledman and Callender respectively. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinters (from left) Emmanuel Callender, Richard Thompson, Rondell Sorrillo and Keston Bledman compete at the 100 metre final in the NAAA National Open Championships on 25 June 2016 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Thompson won gold at the event followed by Sorrillo, Bledman and Callender respectively.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

“On the track circuit or Diamond League, an appearance fee is paid to athletes who have hardware,” he said, “but not everyone can get in.

“As you can see, there are only eight lanes.”

The 4×100 metre quartet faces an uphill task in persuading the government to better their financial reward in the same manner that the IOC upgraded their bronze medals. For one thing, the government has never designed a set figure for rewarding sporting success and such a scale is bound to be controversial.

Late Prime Minister Patrick Manning gave TT$1 million each to the 23 Soca Warriors players and head coach Leo Beenhakker and TT$250,000 to the rest of the technical staff for qualifying for the Germany 2006 World Cup, although they were eliminated in the first round. Nobody would expect a similar pay out for being the eighth fastest sprinter in the world while local cricketers compete globally under the West Indies banner.

And, just as important, Trinidad and Tobago is operating with a deficit budget at present due to low oil and gas prices.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister Darryl Smith (left) has a laugh with NAAA president Ephraim Serrette at the 2016 NAAA Open Championships at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 25 June 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister Darryl Smith (left) has a laugh with NAAA president Ephraim Serrette at the 2016 NAAA Open Championships at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 25 June 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

In 2015, even before the country’s financial woes became obvious, NAAA president Ephraim Serrette felt the sprinters were on shaky ground. Although Serrette supported the call for a clear government policy on rewarding athletes, he said the local athletic body would not petition on their behalf for a larger pay off.

“It is up the whims and fancies of the government of the day,” Serrette told Wired868, in a previous interview. “There is nothing we can do… We don’t approach the government on that. This is the first time that any athlete has written concerning anything about rewards…

“There is definitely a need for a policy to be put in place so we will avoid this kind of thing… Whether they have a case, I would yes and no. Because of the lack of a written policy it will always be difficult.”

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis introduced a prize structure under the local sporting body last year which will pay:

  • Individual gold medal winners US$10,000 (TT$66,400), followed by US$8,000 (TT$53,000) and US$5,000 (TT$33,000) for silver and bronze medals respectively;
  • Teams will split US$20,000 (TT$132,700) for gold; US$15,000 (TT$99,500) for silver and US$10,000 (TT$66,400) for bronze.
Photo: TTOC president Brian Lewis (right) and NAAA president Ephraim Serrette. (Courtesy NAAA/LoopTT)
Photo: TTOC president Brian Lewis (right) and NAAA president Ephraim Serrette.
(Courtesy NAAA/LoopTT)

“The introduction of medal bonuses is an essential component of the ten or more Olympic Gold medals athlete welfare and preparation programme,” stated Lewis.

But Trinidad and Tobago’s athletes are being offered far greater riches by a new United States-based body called the Olympians Athletic Union, which is headed by disgraced former sprinter Alvin Harrison.

Harrison has a chequered history. He was a member of the US 4×400 metre gold medal team at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics and got an individual silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Games. But in 2004, Harrison admitted to steroid use and the IAAF gave him a four year ban.

At one time, Harrison lived on the streets of San Diego after the recession hit in 2008 while, in 2011, he served four months in jail after pleading guilty to felony drunk driving charges—he later claimed his twin brother, Calvin Harrison, was behind the wheel.

Now, Harrison hopes to recreate himself as a union boss.

Photo: Former United States track star Alvin Harrison (right) poses with 4x400 teammate and Olympic legend Michael Johnson during the Atlanta 1996 Olympics. Henderson is now president of the Olympians Athletic Union.
Photo: Former United States track star Alvin Harrison (right) poses with 4×400 teammate and Olympic legend Michael Johnson during the Atlanta 1996 Olympics.
Henderson is now president of the Olympians Athletic Union.

The Olympians Athletic Union claims, supposedly based on tax filings, the IOC pocketed over US$5 billion in gross revenue for the London 2012 Olympics while its athletes did not receive a cent from the lucrative broadcast rights and ticket sales.

Harrison suggested a payment scheme that would see finalists in all 26 track and field events earn between US$100,000 (TT$660,000) and US$5 million (TT$33.2 million) for individual events and US$500,000 (TT$3.3 million) and US$5 million (TT$33.2 million) for relay teams of between four to six members—irrespective of event or gender.

In return, he wants athletes to make the union their “exclusive bargaining representative in negotiations for Olympic Prize money restructuring and compensation.” And, of course, he warned that they must be prepared to warm up for an Olympic final but then refuse to compete.

“You will see the amount [of] power you have,” stated Harrison. “Standing together, we can get you what is rightfully yours, what you have rightfully earned and what you rightfully deserve!!!”

It is uncertain whether the Olympians Athletic Union has made any headway among the world’s athletes. But, in the current scenario, it is not unfeasible that the IOC will have to grapple with a union in the foreseeable future.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Richard Thompson (far right) chases Jamaican legend Usain Bolt (far right) during the London 2012 Olympics 4x100 metre final. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Richard Thompson (far right) chases Jamaican legend Usain Bolt (far right) during the London 2012 Olympics 4×100 metre final.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Armstrong thinks Trinidad and Tobago athletes, who rise to be among the best on the planet in their field, should not have to compete with so much uncertainty around their financial wellbeing.

“What I think the guys should get is something meaningful,” said Armstrong. “Something they can retire with and have to show their accomplishments: [like] a house, retirement money, some kind of endorsement, diplomatic passports. Something great.”

For now, Bledman, Burns, Callender and Thompson, who all hope to compete in Rio, are allowing themselves a pat on the back for their efforts in London, four years ago.

“I feel great cause I earned it the right way, whatever anyone else thinks,” said Callender. “My God is awesome and we all have put in a lot of work to attain it clean, thanks to God. We would have preferred [to get] it in 2012 but a win is a win, so still thanking papa God.”

Thompson pointed out, though, that Gay’s cheating might have hit Trinidad and Tobago’s 4×100 team in the pocket.

Photo: Sprinter Tyson Gay was using anabolic steroids when he helped the 4x100 metre US team to silver medals at the London 2012 Olympics. (Courtesy Vnews)
Photo: Sprinter Tyson Gay was using anabolic steroids when he helped the 4×100 metre US team to silver medals at the London 2012 Olympics.
(Courtesy Vnews)

“There’s no doubt that being awarded an Olympic medal is a moment to be proud of. But at the same time, crossing the line second and standing at the second position on the podium would have been far more gratifying than a retroactive reward ceremony…

“It’s that moment of glory that people cherish for the rest of their lives, far more than an upgraded medal being handed to you eight years later. The flag being raised, hearing our anthem, coming back home to the fan fare, monetary rewards and endorsement opportunities… All lost.”

At last week’s ceremony, President Anthony Carmona lauded the four sprinters and urged them to continue to do their country proud.

“Victory without sportsmanship and fair play is a pirate victory,” said Carmona. “So as our sporting ambassadors to the world, always always always play fair, compete fair, and win fair!”

Thompson, Bledman, Callender and Burns believe that the government has a duty to be fair to them too.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago's 4x100 metre relay team of (from left) Richard Thompson, Emmanuel Callender, Marc Burns and Keston Bledman pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (centre) in a ceremony at The Anchorage, Carenage on 29 June 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s 4×100 metre relay team of (from left) Richard Thompson, Emmanuel Callender, Marc Burns and Keston Bledman pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (centre) in a ceremony at The Anchorage, Carenage on 29 June 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

“Having the government reward the team for its clean and honest efforts to make the country proud,” said Thompson, “would be a prime example of what is expected from the next generation of Trinidad and Tobago.”

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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98 comments

  1. The local Olympic Committee apparently proposed a prize structure , worth far less than what they got by the way . I say stick to that. Further more , let their arrangements be via the local athletic bodies etc who should responsible for funding etc. Time for these bodies to start acting in a professional manner. Government’s main thrust in sport should be focused on the promotion and provision of sport as related to the health and well beng of the population.

  2. Four years in which to plan, raise funds etc, the local oh so limping committee looking to raise funds at the 99th hour. Don’t tell me about the scratch cards they have been out a while yes, but they have only recently been pushing to increase sales. These idiots should already have their strategy in place for the next Games. Oh yeah, I forgot, they do, wash a d polish the begging bowls to approach the Government with.

  3. Usain Bolt : Consitency and Performance

  4. Most american olympic gold medalists barely make money from it…and the compenstion from the association in us dollars isnt anything outstanding and those who get endorsements are in the minority…

    • You know an American sprinter who made barely any money from his success? And how many are the minority who do get millions? Six? Ten? Out of how many medals? About 60?
      How many medalists do we have?
      Doesn’t all that provide context?

    • I didnt say sprinters…but gaitlin is estimated to be worth 1m US… but in the end unless u are heavily endorsed sprinters dont be raking in big bucks…compared to other athletes…which is why Usain is by faaaaaaar the wealthiest ever.

      I repeat the govt doesnt owe them anything…whatever u get be thankful…yoi got a reward for placing third…u think u are owed more because u got moved up?

      So if they get gold from 08 they should receive millions???

      The govt while good for rewarding athletes for their accomplishments are doing so based on choice not entitlement. Dem get more money from our govt than bolt and shelly…

      Where is the responsibility of the private sector who yearly post record earnings in the dailies…because they shirk their role in this the govt is entitled to pay out?

      I repeat i strongly disagree with this. They were rewarded…thompson handsomely rewarded for his silver.

      To ask the minister for more money for me is a pack of nonsense….

    • Great britain cold not even a dollar…again i wanna make it clear i have no issue with the govt rewarding medalists…but not this

  5. Sorry i am a major fan of these young men but i will have to strongly disagree with this. This tone of entitlement is worrying. The govt doesnt owe them more money, the govt doesnt owe athletes anything. Some of them sound like they wanted free housing…whatever you get be thankful because the govt doesnt owe you a cent…

  6. Why does any government HAVE to spend money to promote the INDIVIDUAL goal of a person ? These types of demands are SELFISH and are the demands of CON MEN !!

  7. Pure faxing greed just greedy greedy greedy at the end of the day allyuh cross the finish line fourth and talking shit now look boy fax off eh

  8. should have voted PP ..

    PNM gives nothing to sport…

  9. Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann fraser Price both received $25K USD from the Jamaican Gov’t for their golden achievements. They both gave the money to their fav charity. I never heard one of these guys say “ah going and cooking some pelau for the homeless in PoS.” after they received their $300K.

  10. Why they don’t say thank you lord for this unforeseen blessings cause they only get it because of a drug test

  11. Agree with them,treat them RIGHT

  12. The amount of money athletes receive in appearance fees as Olympic medalists is quite a lot. These guys receive lots of money to assist in their training plus sponsorship from shoe companies. Like everyone this is their job. They choose to be professional athletes. Let them save like everyone else. We are in a downturn in the economy. And even if we weren’t ….. They got a free education because of their talents. Let them invest for their future. By the way,what have they given back to our community? Think about it.

  13. So in the end it all comes back to money. They received money from the government but believe they deserve more because of a placing they got on a technicality. There’s no logical argument for why they should receive more money. It’s time we stop this feeding at the trough mentality.

  14. Guys… Our government does not do enough to support sports people. Now some on here may say that it’s not governments responsibility and people want to live off the state etc. to me that argument is pathetic. There are also those who may say it’s not about money it’s your country and blah blah blah. I take my hat off to many sportsmen and women especially those who somehow manage to bring home hardware. They are very strong mentally to be able to deal with administrators who continue to believe they’re more important than the athlete. If there is a grant of $250,000 to be paid there is no excuse for it not being paid in time. None… The difference with us and other countries is that the private sector really comes to the fore in many of these countries and sponsor athletes. Our private sector or most of the private sector do not understand the power of sport in society. In other words many of them are useless. Trinidad and Tobago is the richest Caribbean island and the second richest country in the Americas. The government can afford to reward athletes who excel and help others to excel. Our problem? We have too many dinosaurs running things in Trinidad and Tobago. We squander money and there is corruption at an unfathomable degree. Has anyone gone to prison for that Life sport fiasco? Nope? Will anyone? Nope.. We are not serious.. Bunch of clowns.. I believe there is also this notion that an athlete shouldn’t be rich. They are entertainers.. They bring joy and eternal memories to us all. What’s the price of those memories? Hasely Crawford, Ato Boldon, the 4×100 teams, Keshorn and so many more are legends of sport in Trinidad and Tobago and worldwide. Treat them with the respect their hard work deserves. I was a sportsman and I received £100,000 from my country in 2006.. The equivalent of 1 weeks wages for a top premier league footballer.. Before that it was unnecessarily hard trying to prepare with National Teams.. Being blacklisted for requesting basic things and my career being cut short at age 30 for asking for a contract to be honoured. These guys are scared to talk too much for fear of the penalty they may receive. My advice to the administrators.. Government.. Take really good care of your sportsmen and women because they bring value that cannot be quantified… They make people happy and they unite the country.. Do not underestimate their importance.

  15. Here we go again, “gimme, gimme”

  16. What about Sport Life? People should be in jail.

  17. Let it be clear, by the rules of the competition, any competition and any placement of a competitor, if a competitor is found to have used an enhancing substance, that person’s placement is in jeopardy, he/she is relegated to last position…….I am basing the call for more money, consistent with the upgrading of the revised placing as unjustified, that is my ONLY contention.

  18. lol they really finished 4th lol I can’t believe they want more money lol

  19. Smh these idiots ….. Trinidad done give so much If they win a medal. What bullshit these c***s talking about they want their due???? Will they even get the bronze?

  20. Lasagna by your CORRECT standards they Won the gold as until proven otherwise they remain the only team in the top three not to have CHEATED merge in you are indeed entitled to your opinion BUT if there are rules that govern a race and by those rules someone wins our loses it really does not matter what position they crossed the line in.

  21. Are they empliyees of tge state? Do British and American athletes receive governnent compensation for their performances? Am asking because I have never heard of it. As far as I know those athletes receive compensation through sponsorship , advertising etc , and their own careers. Am asking. The government has no say in these local bodies affiliated with the Olympics, yet it’s okay for them to receive funding from said government. Am only asking.

    • Usa and jamaica has a prize structure. Do search it.

    • In Britain and the USA, sport is a serious industry and everyone involved in it is rewarded as such. It isn’t in Trinidad and Tobago.
      Now the government could take a hands off approach and point to what happens in the US and UK as examples. And then our athletes, who are already disadvantaged in terms of finance, facilities and–according to the sport–coaching, would have little to no chance. How is that better?
      The truth is almost every business/employer in the country relies a lot on Gov’t/Oil money. From URP workers straight up to the Sabgas and Galbaransinghs who get plum contracts.
      In short, the private sector takes care of athletes in the US and UK. That won’t happen here. And you’d better believe that there have always been athletes in both countries who could call on the Govt for help at any time. Just like the Conservatives asked Beckham to speak on the Brexit referendum and the US sent the Globetrotters out on tours to improve their country’s image.

    • Thank you Lasana Liburd Trinidadian businessmen are a strange greedy group many of out athletes have to work and train on the side especially our footballers their sport should be their trade.

    • Beckham and co am sure didn’t do it for free. URP et al provide goods and services. These athletes make money through sponsoship etc and appearance fees at sport meets etc. The gimme gimme has to stop. Carnival, Panorama etc these should all be self funding , what happens when the golden goose dies? When a government spends money it is an expenditure to bring in revenue. A concept clearly unheard of by the previous regime for which we will be paying for some time. People talk of free education and health, last I heard schools, teachers, nurses, doctors, hospitals, medicine all cost money. They compare and cry about the cost of private health care, what makes them thinks it costs the government any less? Comparisons are made to other countries, are they willing to pay the level of taxation to achieve similar standards? Businesses tell you this or that is free, no it isn’t. The entire system needs to be revamped. So we send 30 athletes they win, that’s 30 houses and land plus 5mill, a pop , 150 mill the government has to pay out , and the coffers receive squat? Corporate sponsorship is not goodwill , they aim to gain one way or another, be it concessions or tax write offs. Time to apply corporate principles to government finances, why then are they employing economists, accountants and the like?

    • So musicians and sportsmen don’t provide goods and services too? When the government spends millions to attend trade shows and get a fraction of the attention of our 4×100 relay team getting on an Olympic podium… But you are not able to equate the value of that?
      And furthermore, the athletes themselves explained how appearance fees work. Did you even read the story?

    • Dwight Yorke, Brian Lara and Ato Boldon have made Trinidad and Tobago have done more to put Trinidad and Tobago on the map than all the millions that TDC/TIDCO ever spent.
      Don’t blame them if you cannot figure that out.

    • Lois Wilson something wrong with you I think you need to research how professional sports works.

    • Like Isaid what goes into the coffers? Oh yes the world may associate their names with T and T, how much investment or revenue did we accrue as a result? The article did make mention of our precarious economic position, said position as well as our future is why I said the system needs to be revamped , why I made mention of Carnival etc. Every year we see money given for Emancipation celebrations, maybe I am out of the loop, but I am yet to see NJAC or whoever establish an outreach program to those same emancipated black boys killing one another on their doorstep. Why are these organisations incapable of funding themselves? We have an ailment called learned helplessness which pervades our society , time for it to stop. Raising NIS etc won’t cut it. We have to make the best of what we have and that means proper management on all fronts. Good night.

    • Yes, I tried to give as much info as possible so people can make an educated decision, whether it is to support or not. So I can’t be vexed about that. I do agree that industries need to pull their weight and aim towards being self-funded.
      But we are a small country and that isn’t easy. In many industries, we haven’t even started properly yet.
      But if those industries still bring something to the table, we cannot just abandon them. We are better off at least making sure that we are managing the money we put into these areas as best as possible to avoid wastage.
      It isn’t always possible to put a tangible value on things like exposure. But we know they mean something.
      Roman bought Chelsea to lift his brand not to make money. Think of Russia sending its ballet troops out during the Cold War, Brazil sending their footballers, USA sending their film stars and basketballers, UK sending Beckham or pushing their BBC… They all believe that a positive image is good business and can help their growth.
      Like I said, it isn’t Brian Lara’s fault if the T&T government cannot find a way to benefit from that. I can bet you the UK government would. David Beckham is a regular on Downing Street. Don’t blame the athletes for the shortcomings of politicians or administrators when they are clearly world beaters.

    • Please find a better example than Roman Abramovich, he of the corrupt oil deals. So lifting his brand didn’t earn him more? Buying and selling players for millions of pounds, investors putting their money in for a return? I know all about the goodwill /cultural ambassador angle, , the bottom line is cold hard cash, ask our neighbours. The government has to prioritize , some things have to go on the back burner, some things wwill require less spending or shelving completely, Rapid Rail anyone? At present we cannot afford to implement certain aspects of health and social care, we cannot afford certain cancer drugs and other types of medication. Image? China doesn’t exactly have a good human rights inage , but their economic standing? Those guys have already received a payout and way in excess of that proposed by their Olympic body. Time for their sport body to up their game. Let’s see sone revenue, let’s see some taxes paid. It’s what professionals also do. Ask Messi and co.

    • If being a global commodity gets Roman around the table more and opens doors for him, then it is worth billions. It is a long game. The Guardian Newspaper earns the Sabgas absolutely nothing. So why do you think they keep it? And you’d better believe it is valuable to them too.
      As for China, when you rule you don’t need good manners. That’s simple enough.
      Let’s agree to disagree.

    • Lasana Liburd I really admire your sticktuitiveness. When people want to compare what happens in a country of 300 million to what happens in Trinidad and Tobago I laugh. God bless you and I agree with your point of view.

    • Bring home GOLD, until then hush all yuh azz,

    • Four young men from tiny Trinidad and Tobago–a country with an amateur sporting set up–worked their way all the way up to be the second fastest quartet on the planet…
      And listen to what you think of that.
      Have you ever been even second best on your street at anything?

    • The under valuing of our people always starts at home. We ought to do as much as we can for our athletes if we do not simply want to make up numbers at these international sporting events. These guys and others are doing great things with a lot less support we need to stop the madness. Cannot want to be world class with bamboo patch mentality

  22. the questions of if athletes are “owed” for their endeavours is always going to be nuanced by the economic realities of when their accomplishments occur.
    Crawford won gold in 1976…but he had nothing to show either before that or afterwards that compared in any way close to that accomplishment. then it was decades after before Ato came and medaled.
    If Gene Samuel or Alvin Daniel had medaled, yuh feel Ato would have got treated well? Short answer is no.
    Keshorn came outta nowhere in 2012…he got a top level javelin two weeks before the games from MoS. As far as Anil was concerned, he did his part in paying for the coach and buying a top-end spear for a young, unproven athlete.
    the fact is that sports is NOT an industry in T&T—it’s a hustle. for EVERYONE.
    except the athlete.

  23. I would never had taken that medal because it was not earned.

  24. AsI said and always say..MY OPINION,,LOL.

  25. Mervyn, I’d say they WON silver because the team that crossed the line second cheated.

  26. My opinion may or may not be controversial depending on who is reading, but it’s something to think about.Did the T&T quartet WIN a Silver Medal or a Bronze Medal?…they WON a Bronze Medal and were compensated accordingly. They were AWARDED and earned a Silver Medal by virtue of a DISQUALIFIED TEAM….two completely different situations…Just a Saying.

  27. This is why I love long-form articles! It gives the reader lots of different perspectives and leaves us to come up with our own conclusions. While this issue is polarizing, I think that the team members were clear and made a very strong case for compensation. These guys are professionals and sld be treated as such.

  28. All athletes who represent the country need to be assisted and rewarded for the sacrifices that they make. The reward must be consistent with the level of the competition and thus can be done starting from their stipends when they travel to rewards when they medal to assistance with jobs when they graduate to assistance with housing when the

  29. Olympic 2012 stole their glory and T&T did it as well.

  30. And I agree that the Elite funding entitlement only once you’ve cracked top 40 in the world is back-to-front. There needs to be an entire re-think of the process.

  31. Not that I’m saying it isn’t possible to have an educated argument against either.

  32. There is a list of how countries reward Olympic athletes. Most countries do so financially. Britain doesn’t and the US gives a token figure. But those are countries with professional sport industries and where the private sector has that covered.
    Keshorn Walcott getting to the podium does more to push Trinidad and Tobago internationally than the millions spent on trade shows or offered to Soca on the Seas, for instance.

  33. In other countries, how does this athlete reward thing work? I’m honestly asking because I see private sector more than government footing not just preparation,training and development but also rewards.

  34. Is it really free though Selwyn? They happen to excel in an amateur competition, which is the Olympics. Although you have to train as if you are a professional, you don’t get paid as an Olympic athlete.
    And the country gets way more marketing from their getting to an Olympic podium than it will from, for example, Soca on the Seas.
    So isn’t there supposed to be a dollar value for what they do?

  35. Trinis like to much free thing and so Wat if you win ah freaking medal and so Wat yuh want house, land & money other ppl around the world does win medals Wat does they get bet they get to go back to their jobs and earn a living not like these who always looking for a hand out

  36. Yes, the second place finish merit a second place reward. For starters, the medal ceremony should have been a public event.

  37. I agree.. It’s time we support all our athletes

  38. If we can’t afford to give them from the Treasury let every Trinbagonian donate $1 for the cause.

  39. It is complex. The system might work better for a Richard Thompson than an Emmanuel Callender. But then unless the Callenders are being taken care of to a decent extent, we won’t get Olympic relay medals.
    And of course you have to wonder more about the redistribution of wealth from the IOC to the various Olympic bodies like the TTOC. Is enough being handed down? What is it being used for? Does enough “trickle down” to athletes?

  40. At first I wasn’t fully agreeing from the headline but the full article convinced me

    They are being robbed

  41. It’s really sad the kinds of things our athletes go through daily to rep the red white and black eh? I hope these guys get their just due. I don’t think the country recognises the significance of an Olympic medal. In other countries athletes are rewarded handsomely just for getting into the Games…medal or not. Imagine reppin your country for your best years and then struggling to pay your car payments, mortgage or rent. Smh

  42. Isn’t it time the EAAP got a proper audit? Just for starters…

  43. I know topics like this will always divide people. I’d want to believe we can agree that a proper audit of the Ministry of Sport’s Elite Athlete Assistance Programme is a good place to start though.

  44. I’m glad they’re speaking out. The more athletes give voice to the corruption plaguing their disciplines, the more can be done to root it out.

    And really, the government can’t be throwing random sums of money around after playing around with pre-competition funding. It’s really a miracle that our athletes achieve so much with the lackluster support they’re getting.

  45. Hmm..good read – didn’t know they faced so much obstacles..

  46. Earl Best

    “If people knew the truth, they would cry.”

    A little weeping never hurt nobody. And it might do a few athletes and the country as a whole a world of good. So, say I, go ahead and spill the beans. Tell it like it is and see what that yields.

    But I have to say that there are quite a few things in here that make me uneasy, starting with the posture that we’re doing this “for country.” Maybe it’s a harsh judgement but, on the basis of all the things I have heard in here from the athletes and their representatives, I think the real two-word message has a four-letter verb as its first word.

  47. As the story progressed they really made their case.

  48. “There’s no doubt that being awarded an Olympic medal is a moment to be proud of. But at the same time, crossing the line second and standing at the second position on the podium would have been far more gratifying than a retroactive reward ceremony…”

    Seeing that it was the fault of the drugged up sprinters, I say sue their r’asses for your compensation and lost glory/honour…if more drug-free athletes did that, the drugged up ones may think twice before continuing in their lazy depravity….

    Of course I also agree with T&T gov’t stepping up to the plate and giving more to the athletes – even in financial dire straits, the govt usually finds money for whatever, wherever, so they need to find money to compensate the athletes properly, and definitely there needs to be more accountability and transparency if their are allegations of corruption.