“The Express of Friday 23 March carried the following excerpt from Ato Boldon’s FB page: ‘If you worried as much about podiums as much as you do about unprovoked shots at younger teammates you MIGHT actually win something in this lifetime’. […]
“For decades, Boldon has been a facilitator and a door opener for the local federation; he is now demanding his pound of flesh. Do not believe for a moment that the communication sent to the young lady was a personal decision of the sender. If that is so, he must be removed. That official, mind you, is one of track and field’s longest-serving administrators.”
The following Letter to the Editor on the war of words over the selection of the track and field team for the Commonwealth Games, was submitted to Wired868 by sports administrator and track coach Rae Samuel:
“After four decades of studying sports in society,” Professor Jay Coakley of the University of Colorado wrote in The Great Sporting Myth, “I remained awed by the pervasive and nearly unshakeable belief in the inherent purity and goodness of sport despite the evidence to the contrary.”
So close on the heels of our Minister of National Security facing the courts of the USA. over a seven-month period re charges of fraud, another bacchanal erupts. This time it is in the field of sport, track and field to be exact. The genesis of bacchanal number two was that a young female sprinter had not originally been selected and her coach, a high-profile broadcaster with a major network in the USA, erupted.
“The way to ensure the future of sport in T&T,” he sneered, “is to NOT select Khalifa St Fort.”
By the way, folks, sports media up the islands have taken this lead. A guest on sports commentator Lance Whittaker’s television programme drew a comparison with 2008 when Government bailed out a financial institution that was deemed too big to fail and suggested the same was true here. It’s good to know that our entire track and field future depends on one junior female athlete.
This has been followed by one athlete opting out of the relay since it seems to her arrangements are/were being made to accommodate St Fort who, according to her coach, was not at her best in the Games trials “because her legs were tired after Carnival.” But since she was the fastest junior in 2017, she should have been selected. One assumes her legs have got enough rest for the Games.
Just try to imagine a Jamaican or American coach using that approach with his/her federation. And it has been followed by thinly disguised venom hurled at one of our female sprinters “who never won anything.”
The Express of Friday 23 March carried the following from Ato Boldon’s FB page: “If you worried as much about podiums as much as you do about unprovoked shots at younger teammates you MIGHT actually win something in this lifetime.”
I would not spend much time on the responses per se of the leadership of the governing body which once again is showing all the resilience and ‘backraise’ of a gummy bear. I have personally witnessed the young Central athletes locked out of the Ato Boldon Stadium to accommodate football. They have found themselves forced to use the asphalt strip leading to the National Cricket Centre, rubbing shoulders with fun walkers and inhaling all the traffic fumes.
For decades, Boldon has been a facilitator and a door opener for the local federation; he is now demanding his pound of flesh. Do not believe for a moment that the communication sent to the young lady was a personal decision of the sender. If that is so, he must be removed. That official, mind you, is one of track and field’s longest-serving administrators.
As I prepared to write this piece, I spoke with several coaches who have toured with Commonwealth, Pan American and Olympic teams. This kind of interference has been all too common and has been facilitated by the administration.
Ask ourselves how many managers’ reports are made available to the track and field body. And we should know that a manager who writes a candid report may never accompany another team.
So what will all of this mean for the athletes? How will it affect their performance? We only have to go back to reports coming out of Rio 2016 where athletes expressed dissatisfaction with management and the impact that had on the morale of the team.
I have often asked how it works when, for example, the relay team is working out and the big name coach leaves his post to talk to his athlete. Which voice sounds sweetest in the believer’s ear? As some local coaches and a top Caribbean IAAF administrator—with a laugh—pointed out to me, St Fort’s performances in the 2016 Olympics merits a close look.
The head of the TTOC is a sincere person who has a clear vision for sport in Trinidad and Tobago, something which distinguishes him from most. But the words of incoming President Paula-Mae Weekes cannot heal the deep fissures.
Asking the athletes to turn the other cheek may very well result in loss of both sides of the head. Love is a two-way street.
If our ambassadors in the field of sport, the world’s highest-profile and most dynamic diplomatic arena, are given the tools and respect they get, then let us all be honest and not try to piggyback on their achievements.
Leave that to the Minister of Sport.
And the Minister of Tourism.