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Media Monitor: Boldon’s broadside, Ahye’s comeback and other notable sporting quotes

Sporting history is replete with examples of if not famous last words, at least famous statements, good, bad and ugly, by famous sportsmen, for the most part good. Of recent vintage are two by former Olympian Ato Boldon which provoked a third from newly minted Commonwealth Games 100m gold medallist, Michelle-Lee Ahye.

Here is the first one: “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.” That is definitely not in the ‘Good’ category.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago former Olympic star Ato Boldon (right) hugs an unidentified Nigerian sprinter during his heyday as a highly successful track athlete. (Copyright AFP 2014/Jeff Haynes)

And I can’t swear for him but I suspect the ex-sprinter-turned-coach is today looking for a deep, deep, deep, deep hole to hide in.

I know something about that Oh-Lord-I-really-say-that-in-truth? feeling. Last year, I publicly wrote off the Jason Holder-led West Indies after England swept them away by an innings and 209 runs in the First Test at Edgbaston in under three days. In the Second Test at Headingley, Shai Hope (147 & 118*) and Kraigg Brathwaite (134 & 95) stuffed humble pie down my throat, leading Dave Cameron’s men to a five–wicket win. I lost my appetite for a full week.

Of course, it is entirely possible that Boldon has already called the Express to apologise publicly. Or, alternatively, to feed T&T some rubbish about how he was just trying to spur the lady on to do her best and finally win a medal.

T&T, let’s be clear, had three representatives in the 100m final, the Boldon-coached Khalifa St Fort, who had not originally been selected on the team, Reyare Thomas and Michelle-Lee Ahye. Thomas brought up the rear in seventh while Boldon’s charge fought the good fight to pip her compatriot for sixth.

Ahye—who took Boldon’s “Lane filler” comment to heart, although the former track star insisted it was not aimed at her—only managed to clock a more-than-decent 11.14 seconds to take gold and occupy the highest rung of the podium, the first T&T woman ever to do so at a major athletics event.

Frankly, I would have given anything to see Boldon’s face at the end of the race. Or during the playing of the National Anthem. I do not doubt that he was extremely pleased to see his prediction come true.

Photo: Commonwealth Games 100m queen, Michelle-Lee Ahye (right), is the target of media attention after snatching the title on the Carrara Stadium track on 9 April, 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

England’s Tony Greig couldn’t say the same in 1976.

His unfortunate and unforgettable threat to make Clive Lloyd’s West Indians grovel backfired. Spectacularly. Viv Richards made 291 at London’s Kennington Oval, Michael Holding took 14 wickets, nine of them bowled or LBW, and the WI romped to a 3-0 win in the five-Test series. Greig’s scores were 0, 6, 20, 9, 3, 116, 76, 12 and 1.

A big cricket score—277—led to my first example in the Good category. What spawned it was Brian Lara’s near triple-century at Sydney in the first innings of what was only his ninth Test.

“Remember, young man,” then coach Rohan Kanhai said to the gifted then 22-year-old left-hander, “that your next innings begins at zero.”

Lara remembered. After that first fateful day in Sydney, he went all the way from zero to 375 in Antigua in 1994, to 501 in an English county game against Durham two months later and to 400 again in Antigua ten years later in 2004.

At Brisbane in 1960, over 30 years before Kanhai sought to keep Lara’s feet on the ground in Sydney, Frank Worrell had sought to keep Wes Hall’s feet behind the crease in what would turn out to be cricket’s first ever tied Test. Proving that he was indeed the black man CLR James and Learie Constantine had said the West Indians needed to lead them if they were to fulfil their true potential, the soon-to-be first West Indian cricketing knight found this wonderfully inspired and inspiring warning for his pacer as he prepared to deliver the last ball:

“And if you bowl a no-ball now, Wes, you’ll never be able to go back to Barbados.”

Photo: Muhammad Ali stands over a floored opponent, one of the many over whom he triumphed in his star-studded career as a three-time Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Let us now go back to 1967 to find an example of the ugly.

“What’s my name, Uncle Tom, what’s my name?”

I don’t know precisely what Ernie Terrell said to Muhammad Ali before the pounding the champ put on him in February of 1967. I feel sure, though, that Terrell never again called Ali “Cassius Clay.” The challenger had insisted on using the World Heavyweight Champion’s “slave name” instead of his new Muslim handle.

Ali tattoed his gloves all over Terrell’s face in the 15–round fight to secure an untroubled, unanimous decision; the champ, many agree, had won almost every round but had simply declined to knock Terrell out so as to prolong the “Uncle Tom’s” agony.

Agony is the apt word for what Cleveland Cavaliers fans suffered in 2010. Lebron James made Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert and their jersey-burning’ fans eat their words after they called him the worst imaginable names. “Selfish,” “heartless,” “callous,” “cowardly” and “traitor” they dubbed him after he revealed that he had signed for the Miami Heat.  James kept his silence while Jesse Jackson dismissed Gilbert’s “venomous personal attack”on the high-profile basketballer, stressing that it was the franchise boss’ “slave master mentality” which ‘had allowed him to think that he could with impunity treat James as “a runaway slave.”

But that worked out okay in the end because he eventually came back home to Cleveland in 2015 and subsequently helped the franchise win its first championship the next year. And all was forgiven.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s Khalifa St Fort (right) grabs the baton from teammate Kelly Ann Baptiste in the Women’s 4 x 100m Relay Round 1 at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on 18 August 2016.
(Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2016)

In Ahye’s case all is NOT forgiven. Boldon also had this to say when the squad for the Games was initially released—without St Fort’s name!

“The way to ensure the future of sport in T&T is to NOT select Khalifa St Fort.”

The gold medallist, 26 tomorrow, has announced that she will not be taking part in the relays because “home girl is the future of track.”

“Home girl” is, obviously, the 20-year-old St Fort. Truth be told, like Boldon, I too feel that St Fort will one day stand on the podium at one of these big Games. But I’m not entirely certain.

I’m not entirely certain either of what will happen when Boldon, St Fort and Ahye come back home.

But I feel pretty certain that, no matter what tomorrow’s Express tells us, starting today and for a little while yet, the quadruple Olympic medallist is going to have mud all over his face.

And Facebook.

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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64 comments

  1. In this life humans take things too personal. Forget Ato and put country first. You are a winner so don’t let anyone steal your joy, just go and help bring home another Gold medal.

  2. We do hope she runs.. but to be fair to her she decided before leaving that she wasn’t so is not because she won the gold the decision was made. I do hope for the Sport she changes her mind… Negative comments would certainly not make her do so.

  3. Michelle was not originally on the relay team people

  4. Keep on running, it was the smoothest I’ve seen since Flojo… you now start, do not be distracted..

  5. Looking forward to her team spirit and running in the 4×100 meters. She won’t be rubbing the country of an almost sure gold. Go T&T!

  6. Isn’t these athletes being funded by taxpayers $$$, how can they decline to compete ?

  7. Ato should have know better who you doing this for dont let them get into your head run girl run do it for your fans we will deal with ato after

  8. Diniece Phillip I guess you aren’t the only one who was prompted to remember. Really tasteless.

    • Yup. Girl I was so disappointed in his statement. I could imagine how she felt working so hard to achieve for the country and being completely overlooked in a statement like someone younger is the future of the sport. His immature and arrogant input was not needed.

    • From what I recall Ato Boldon’s statement was valid and based on another athlete with a much slower time being selected because of friendship and not performance. What is wrong with someone highlighting that? It’s similar to the gymnist situation.

    • Ato said he was not speaking about Michelle-Lee initially. But Michelle took it to heart and then what followed didn’t do either of them any good.
      Personally I think Ato should have stuck to criticizing the NAAA but he should have avoided criticising the athletes.

    • Yeah, but the thing is we mwrely report and read what athlete live through. In our own fields we dispense with formalities from time to time.

    • Ato knows more about what happens in those camps than we do. I’m not debating that.
      But it all went public at a really bad time.

    • By chance, you remember that song by Anita Franklin called – ‘Who Zooming Who’.

  9. Did anyone see the other two local girls congratulating Michelle

  10. Correction Michelle Ayhe is not the first TT female athlete to win 100 at a major meet have you ever heard of Sigrid Sandiford she was at one time the sprint queen of the Caribbean check it out

  11. Apparently Ato’s words had the desired effect….they must have been a motivating factor in the victory! Great coaching, Ato!!! Think Dinesh Ramdin and the Master Blaster! ‘Take dat, Viv!’ However, if it’s affecting her participation in the relays I have a serious concern about that!

  12. The girl deserve it after being flag for doping just before a major event. Then nothing came out of it she was clean. You deserve it! Happy Birthday! God Bless!!! We never doubted. it was only a matter of TIME.

  13. What is the moral of this article…the purpose at this time. Wired continues to twist things around to what end. We are a small country compared to what is out there and was able to field 3 finalists like Jamaica in a premier event as the women’s 100 meter final and a Gold medal winner. Let us savor that feeling rather than the negatives and pettiness passing as news. Don’t you feel that most countries have their end of problems? We hear stories of sexual harassment that plagued US gymnastics for years probably in the history of the sport and cannot recall it being an issue at the events US participated and won Gold medals. I feel we have suffered by new media that allows all sorts of ‘small’ news to promote petty agendas in attempting to strangle real ‘big’ news. I heard my national anthem play on pan giving a time and space to this small country. Let us understand what has just happened for our pride and national identity. No issue of race, gender, political affiliation or other petty positions could cloud my feelings at this time.

    • Seems like you only read the new Media fellah. This story was reported by all old media outlets including the daily newspapers and the television.
      You should leave your bubble and walk about and stretch your legs ever so often. ?

    • Lasana Liburd there you go I am now in a bubble, my bubble friend is the hope for a better Trinidad and Tobago. Because media is on a theme doesn’t make it gospel in fact it could very well make it a group of blind people led by someone with one eye. You no doubt have tremendous resources but in the end taking a position is a show of your bias and there is a clear bias in the articles that emerge from this source. Likewise my bias is my right to comment without attacks of my bubble but the message that in our finite life we should look for more positives to create positive space for this same one bubble we love Trinidad and Tobago. Sometimes getting there is breaking away from the pack as Michelle demonstrated so purposefully.

    • Ronald you said this story is a black mark on the new media. But it was written by a former editor of two major daily newspapers and a lecturer on journalism. And, as I said, this story actually HAS been ventilated in the “old media”.
      So that was an incorrect position you took.
      On to the point of “positive news”, if a national runner–let alone the Commonwealth champion–says she is NOT going to run in an event that she was flown in to participate in, then that is news.
      It is not about being subjective or trying to hurt your flowery feelings on the issue.
      If Usain Bolt said he didn’t like someone on his relay team so he is not going to run, you would say it is “unpatriotic” for a Jamaican newspaper to write that?
      Best is not speculating here. Michelle-Lee told TV6 “since home girl is the future of the sport let her run [without me]”
      There is certain criticism I welcome from the public. But this confuses me.
      There are three days before the relay. Maybe you can use that time to make a public plea to Michelle-Lee to run. Because I really hope she does.
      Instead, you’re shooting the messenger. All I can say is it is our job to inform and to analyse and we are doing our best at that.

    • Lasana Liburd I know you sir and I have always followed and found you someone who has stood up for righteousness especially in sport. I hear your plea and more than me am quite aware of your crowning ability to influence the outcome of these reported differences. I look forward to a formidable team contesting the 4×100 women race.

    • I wish I could influence it. I’d tell Michelle-Lee Ahye that the best way to answer critics is on the field of play.
      Athletes rarely ever strike and 99 percent of them who do go on to regret it. Championships like this don’t come along often and you never know when an injury or loss of form can hit you.
      She is in form now. And she should strike when the iron is hot.
      So my advice would be: Run Michelle! Run!

    • Lasana Liburd ; Seriously something is wrong in her head, whoever advising her needs to try and let her Change her mind ASAP. For someone who just win a gold medal at a major competition…..something is mentally wrong with her.

    • Liked how you noted we had three woman in the race – that really is smthg for such a small country.

  14. If you and ato have words , that’s between you and ato . Why take it out on the rest of the team , what about the other two runners? TEAM=together each achieve more. I hope she has a change of heart .

  15. stop being petty…tax payers money paying you to go run…Ato Boldon has his medals….

    • With many athletes not receiving government funding in a timely manner or in some cases at all….even after repping for 868…I’m not sure how applicable the issue of funding is to these athletes, especially when they choose to be “selfish”

    • you were ‘funded’ to go to the Commonwealth games to run…

    • Actually no one is paying them. Ease up. They have yet to receive funding and as a matter of fact NOT TRINI MONEY PAYING FOR TRAINING. Elite athletes go through hills and valleys to get a sponsor. So when you educate yourself about that part of the topic then speak. Few of your ambassadors get anything from government or any corporate companies. I can say because I NEVER GOT A THING BESIDES A TICKET AND THEN NOTHING. Michelle need a ticket to come back here to handle business and NOT A CENT. We have athletes from football go right back praying they don’t get injured because they get nothing. My cousin who played on the national team she got injured and that was it they throw her like a hot bread and she played her heart out. Who do hey really give anything to. You think your tax paying self could account for who you pay for exactly? Sorry if I came across harsh but a lot of people speak what they don’t know. Who feels it knows it. Poor people scrap to ensure their children’s futures.
      Check which sport have who in it and you will tell which “class” hey belong.
      With all due respect, you know in your heart that our ambassadors are least sorted and carry the biggest burdens for expectations for people like you who want them to achieve the world with little to know support.
      Resolve :- Support your own. There is a saying “the stone that the builder refuses shall be made the head corner stone”.
      Throw them away now and the world love and supports us more because we are genuinely great people with hearts of passion and ambition.

    • all I ‘know’ is you go there to run…then run…end of story…

      • Ms. Samuel is so correct it is hard being an athlete in a country that does not appreciate or understand the importance of sport…

        This isnt MILO games these athletes at most times have to pay for therapy when injured on National duty, its a hard place to be when deciding to represent a country that only show love when you win but does not fight for you to get what is required to win. Then have to go through being scrutinized by the very ones who suppose to be a voice for you cause they have been there before… You fighting to be ready you fighting to give your best from nothing and NOBODY fighting for you….Nah it not fair and this goes for all sports i really feel for our national athletes

        I too wants Michelle to run but sometimes there is only so much a person can take….

    • 100% in agreement with your comment Ms Heather Woodroffe

    • And she ran and she won. #GOLDENAHYE ??????????????

    • Heather Woodroffe by that same token as adults we should just go to work and work….never mind we’re not compensated before or after we put in work. We’re just units of labour being put through a mill to produce. Full stop

    • …and if she runs again she could win again….so go and do what you’re on the team to do…run…

    • She didnt pay for her ticket to reach Australia tax payers money did that……. if she has a problem with Ato thats right but its tax payers money thay took her to Australia. If this was a meet in Europe or something like that she would be in her right to just refuse to run but after you get a $30000 trip youre to represent us an atleast be a team player.

  16. I wondered where her team mates were. Did not see the quote before. Maybe Ato’s statement spurred her on to prove herself.
    Great if it did but sad if she puts herself before country and skips the 4×1 relay. Hope that good sense will prevail. The sport is bigger than individuals.

  17. Our country is way to small for all this confusion..someone needs to intervene and put country first and formost…thats another medal we are throwing away… come on people let us be mature about the situation

  18. I could be wrong or the cameras didn’t pick it up…..but I did not see her TT compatriots congratulate her on her victory ‍♂️

  19. Scotty Ranking

    I wonder which one, from Australia, Ato prefers to eat: Michelle-Lee Ahye humble pie or Nova Peris Tim Tam biscuits?

    • Earl Best

      I don’t have enough clothes for church and court, mister; you are on your own with that line of questioning.

      However, your comment does raise an interesting question: since the much ballyhooed wedding, have you heard anything at all about the bride? Hmm….

  20. What did boldon say and where is it?

    • 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.”

  21. Send Ato some black pepper and salt to go with the eggs on his face