by Alvin Corneal
Having attended the Commonwealth Games on five occasions in the distant past, I had found great joy over the enthusiasm of the selected athletes and the committed approach by all of them. This year’s event was not the same, even though I was not present to make strong conclusions about varying situations.
The gold medal successes won by Michelle Lee-Ahye and Jereem Richards brought us joy. However, I have always defined victory in a different context as absolute success when it comes to sport. The greatest West Indian cricket leader, the late Sir Frank Worrell, once commented upon the difference between a victorious athlete and a successful sportsman. Because of who had made the statement, I decided to agree immediately.
Michelle Lee-Ahye ran a wonderful race to win gold, and surely, a repeat of her talent would have placed our relay into medal lane. With the uttering from a former national athlete, was Ahye really hurt enough to give preference to his appalling comment over going for another medal for T&T? This is a case for the National Association of Athletics Administrations of Trinidad and Tobago (NAAA), where all these spontaneous decisions unilaterally taken by athletes, unless it is because of injury, should not be allowed.
Have we not been hearing from these athletes of the inconsistency in the disbursement of financial remuneration which they should receive annually? It is an acceptable request if you are committed to represent our country in every major event.
Further, which expert can explain the horrible performances of our male track athletes, including our sportsman of the year, who ran the relays? They appear to be so under-prepared. There was an abominable baton change which threw our chances in one event, and a display of absolute mediocrity from a four-hundred-metre running group.
Not even the brilliance of the gold medallist Jereem Richards’ wonderful leg could have made an impact on the result because of the substandard performances from guys who, one year ago, were near to world class.
Will they be better prepared for the Golden League during this summer, where the prize monies and sponsorship fees will take precedence over just a Commonwealth Games’ medal which brings little or nothing to their pockets?
We have heard comments from some of our stars when things did not go right as far as funds are concerned, such as “sometimes I feel to run for another country”.
I do not blame the athletes, because they are often found waiting for whatever is promised by the NAAA. But, these are not examples for our young athletes to witness and the NAAA must provide the reasons why the guys faltered so miserably in the Gold Coast.