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Daly Bread: 2024 for sure; T&T’s fanciful Olympic delusions

Commentators and editorial writers have already assessed that the showing of our Trinidad and Tobago athletes at the recent concluded Tokyo Olympic Games was poor and below the medal standard that we have achieved in every Olympics since Barcelona 1992.

Ironically, at the previous Tokyo Olympics in 1964, our then top class generation of track athletes brought home several medals.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago 4×400 metre team (from left) Kent Bernard, Edwin Roberts, Wendell Mottley and Edwin Skinner pose with their silver medals at the Tokyo 1964 Olympics.
T&T medalled in three events in 1964.
(Copyright Socapro)

Commentators were specific about those required to account. No doubt, the slick talking president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, Brian Lewis, will spin hard luck and near miss stories, but we all know full well that sports administration in our country is loaded with cliques for whom self-promotion and the advancement of their favourites and of partisan politics is paramount.

The words of Ato Boldon, our four-time Olympic medalist and now commentator and track and field analyst for NBC—the premier US Olympics broadcaster—are particularly incisive. Some of them have assisted this column’s reflection on the arrogance of incumbency, encouraged and ingrained in both athletes and officials.

First, let me remind readers that I have previously analysed the wider implications of the high court findings of fact regarding ‘entrenched biases’ in the sport of gymnastics, which David Marquez, Ricardo Lue Shue, Donna Lue Shue and Akil Wattley, then officials of the Gymnastics Federation, inflicted on Thema Williams.

Thema was also blanked by Lewis and his TTOC, who went for Dick—after Thema was wrongly withdrawn from the Rio Olympics. The minister of sport was equally indifferent to the biased action against Thema.  

Photo: Minister of Sport Darryl Smith (centre) meets with TTGF president David Marquez (left) and his executive committee in 2015.
(Courtesy Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)

Within days of the condemnatory judgment, the minister of sport was handing out cheques (taxpayers’ money) to sporting organisations. The Gymnastics Federation, whose act of infamy had gone international, got a cheque.

This was symptomatic of what Raffique Shah dealt with last Sunday. He cited the tell all autobiography of ‘born into football’, Everard ‘Gally’ Cummings, in furtherance of his call for the Ministry of Sport, ruthless politicians and sports overlords to be made to account, and not to make talented persons subservient to their narrow interests.

Ato Boldon has denounced the sameness of everything in track and field administration including ‘same personal agendas’ and ‘same jokers talking a set of annual rubbish and pretending that poor Carifta/junior results are okay’.

That is probably why several of our failed athletes—including one who did not even finish the race—can, after failure to finish or qualify, talk glibly about what they will do in Paris in 2024, when the next Olympics are held.  They do not have to prove that they have sustainable worth.  

That is why for them it is a case of 24 for sure. So it is also, for the free-trip ‘officials’.

Photo: TTOC president Brian Lewis (left) and secretary general Annette Knott (centre) chat with Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe.
Lewis’ term as TTOC president ends in April 2022.
(via TTOC)

The athletes have been bestowed with the title ‘elite athletes’ to justify the disbursement of millions of dollars. We do not have a clue how the millions are spent.  

Of course there are also unofficial and well protected elites, like those who could hold a big wedding in the middle of Covid-19 restrictions or like those riding around by boat who get a hint from a top government official of what legal defences they should try.  

What these elites have in common is that accountability does not apply to them.

One of the Tokyo athletes had a post-race status of DNF (did not finish). I felt that the appropriate category was DNR (do not resuscitate), but the government will resuscitate the DNF, along with the DNQ (did not qualify). 

No demand for measurable and sustained  improvement in performance, beyond perhaps one past personal best, will be made as a pre-condition for going to Paris in 2024, accompanied by sweet-time officials.

Image: Team Trinidad and Tobago!
Art Direction @that_guy_ren
Character design and Lineart: @lyskette
Colors @_stratuss_
Editor @swaggrlyn
(via TTOC)

The source of this column’s title relates to 19 November 1989 when we lost the 1990 World Cup qualifying match at home to the United States—a next day public holiday having been declared in anticipation of partying.  The consolation cry was ‘94 for sure’. But unsurprisingly, we did not make it in 1994.

We carry delusions from one century into the next. Where are we going with that in sport or anything else?

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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5 comments

  1. Very welcome and incisive comments from Mr. Daly on the state of TTOC administration.
    I’m not sure whether Mr. Daly’s statement about an athlete who had a DNF status was an oblique reference to Teniel Campbell, our female road cyclist at Tokyo. If it is so, that would have been an unfortunate criticism because Teniel is no slouch – she definitely worked extremely hard for qualifications.

  2. Our ‘administrator’ (where are J’CA’s equivalent even in success) are more about robbing the athletes of the spotlight and all that goes with it. So those glib remarks that suggest the results from this Olympic is a mere ‘blip’ on the radar and by 2024 all will be well is just plain ole talk. Similar to the 10 medals by 2024 foolishness that they have been peddling awhile now. It is not impossible but highly improbable given the lack of real programs/plans in place to transition our current crop of juniors to a decent level that they can compete effectively with the best at CARIFTA. This can give them a shot at being scouted by some top tier programs in the U.S. and put them on the fast track to achieving some personal/national success. Jamaica has used the NCAA’s to full effect while developing their own programs at home. Division one school will only scout athletes who show the potential to excel and contribute to their programs. We are about talking and making a lot of pathetic excuses and wasteful media appearances rather than getting down to the task at hand. The benefits of our athletes performing well on the world stage goes way beyond just winning medals and the government needs to seriously consider this.

  3. Daly hits the nail on the Olympic head. Moreso Brian Lewis and the TTOC admin needs to resign now.

  4. I repeat my earlier comments, I add, “Who are the persons maintaining our sport facilities on a full time basis?”, “Who are the persons who supply food for athletes at sports facilities?”, “Who supply transport to and from sport facilities for athletes?”, etc.

    Alan AgarratSaturday 7 August 2021 at 11:02 am
    In Trinidad, we should have at least two fully equipped centres for athletes where they have “first class” accomodations, weight facilities, physiotherapy attention/treatment, food and nutrition catering, transport to and from the facilities, cold/ice baths, clothing and footwear, the centres to have top class security, equipment to be well maintained and replaced as necessary, etc
    All the above to be financed by the government.
    I believe giving an athlete temporary accommodation in Federation Park does not help them improve performance in their event .
    Regards,
    Alan

    • Most of the successful countries have what they call ‘high performance centres’ where budding talents are nurtured and equipped to perform at the highest level. An example is the Indian Javelin thrower (Olympic champion), after winning the world juniors they invested heavily in him and the results are now there for all to see. It is hard work, sacrifice (gov’t and corporate citizens pitching in) and planning (getting the right programs in place) that will yield success not bullshi**ing officials who view themselves first as politicians willing to neglect that very important job of creating opportunities for our young talents to shine brightly.