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Evening of class for sports heroes
Sports Minister Anil Roberts may have his detractors but even they would have to concede that Wednesday’s inaugural hosting of the Spirit of Sport Awards at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Wrightson Road, was a grand addition to the sporting landscape of T&T. A virtual who’s who of the country’s sporting fraternity were present. They were joined by a number of the country’s leading entertainers in a show that scaled unprecedented heights in sporting glamour and excellence, but more importantly gave recognition to several of the country’s supporting sporting cast, who otherwise, would go unnoticed. The awards hailed several outstanding athletes and achievements, of course, rightfully putting the crown on the heads of Kelly Ann Baptiste, Darren Bravo, Anisa Mohammed, Lendl Simmons, Brian Lara and of course Rodney Wilkes, the country’s first ever Olympic medallist. It was heartening to hear that Baptiste, Josanne Lucas and Renny Quow were all being rewarded by the Ministry for outstanding performances during the year with a $150,000 bonus cheque.
For me, however, it was the appreciation shown in the other areas not usually associated with the spotlight that is likely to push the Minister’s stake higher. The recognition handed out posthumously to Allyson Hennessy which so filled the heart of national icon Brian Lara that one could hear his voice cracking as he paid tribute to a woman described as the country’s number one sporting fan, was one of the high points of the afternoon. The standing ovation for a woman who stood behind our sport and our heroes, win lose or draw, in good times and in bad, was more than deserving. And it was particularly special to see Wilkes being given a Lifetime Award. More importantly, it would seem that a Sports Minister is finally understanding the importance of ensuring that our heroes must never be allowed to die with their pants down.
At last, a financial grant every month for the country’s first Olympic medallist. Hopefully, it is for the rest of his life. Indeed, the Minister’s awards left no stone unturned. The disabled athletes, community groups and individuals, a people’s choice awards which was won by St Anthony’s College and whose coach Nigel Grovesnor was most humble in receipt, emphasized the power and value of sport. Indeed, coaches and the media were also recognized. It was also a pleasure to have another distinguished son of the soil, Ato Boldon, fitting in so nicely with the moment, returning home to celebrate the occasion with his people. Classy Boldon, always so confident and sure of himself didn’t need a teleprompter, neither did the Minister, who preferred to let the awardees and the awards do the talking. This was a sobering evening of class in tribute of our sporting fraternity.
Take a bow Ministry of Sport. You too Sportt. Our sporting community needs a lot more moments like Wednesday’s.
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