Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Like just about every Trinbagonian on the planet I was thrilled when young (he is only 19) Keshorn Walcott won a gold medal in the Olympics. I was also pleased when a mistake by the Canadian relay team gave us the bronze medal in the men's 4X100 relay race. (Hey! Rules are rules and  a win within the rules is still a win! Sorry, Canada. I do know how you feel, but if the shoe was on the other foot you would also be shrugging your shoulders and saying the same thing to us.)

I also have no problem at all with the rewards and accolades being heaped upon the young man. I think that his achievement was stupendous and as far as I am concerned he deserves all that a grateful nation has heaped upon him and more.

But (as I argued more than ten years ago) we really should establish a firm national policy as to how we are going to reward our sporting heroes in the future. For example, Keshorn won a gold medal. One! But what are we going to do if tomorrow his cousin wins two gold medals? Three? What if his girlfriend wins four silvers? What about if somebody wins two bronze medals and a silver? Get the point? We need to have a settled policy that applies to everybody. Not to do so invites chaos.

In the United States gold medal athletes are given US$25,000 per medal. Silver medalists get $15,000 and those who bring home a bronze get $10,000. In Canada their gold medalists get Can$20,000 per medal. Then the other medal winners are compensated as their American counterparts. In addition, in both countries the coaches of the winning athletes are also given financial rewards (which are not as great as the athletes but still nice). Incidentally, both of these countries impose a tax on these monetary prizes. America even taxes the value of the medals ... but I think that it is the only country in the world to do so.

Now, I am not saying that we should limit ourselves to the Canadian or American standards. Neither am I saying that we should exceed them.
My point here is a simple one: whether you agree or not with the "goodies" that the Government has showered on our Olympian gold medalist, you would have to be absolutely churlish not to agree that Mr. Walcott does deserve something from a grateful nation. The outburst of national pride that he egendered by his superlative feat is ... well, priceless! But we must at all times keep our feet planted firmly on the ground and we must be fair to those who will follow after him. The time has come for us to have a national policy on rewarding ALL of our sporting heroes ... from the Olympics to cricket and football and everything in between ... fairly. And right now, with Mr. Walcott's tremendous achievement freshly before us, would be a great time to start such a discussion and put such a policy in place.


  1. Good one, Senator!!

  2. Following your reasoning (which I agree with wholeheartedly) to its logical conclusion then we should also include in that national policy the question of what to give our Beauty Queens who win contests like Miss Universe and Miss World.

  3. It's ridiculousness. He's 19 and his while life has been turned upside down by this gift. Plus we're now the laughing stock of the world. Give him something that directly aids his training and be content that a gold medal is reward enough.

  4. Without giving away my age I am certain the Government of the day gave Hasley Crawford a financial reward as well as a house. The national football team players were also given gifts after qualifying for the World Cup some years ago. I agree that a policy would make it quite straightforward and reduce the commentary by the population about whether or not athletes are adequately compensated.