media_artricles :: 2018
ArticleNameWalter Alibey :: Trinidad Guardian :: 04.03.2018
The Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs (MSYA) has sought to put to rest the ongoing ramblings with sprinter Richard Thompson, saying it stands ready to provide quality support, inclusive of grant funding, to ensure all national athletes including Thompson, attain and maintain the highest level of ranking in their chosen discipline.
Its comment came in a release on Thursday evening, mere weeks after Thompson, an Olympic medallist for T&T in 2008 and 2012, was told he was not an Elite athlete. Thompson who has been recovering from injury, attempted to source funding for preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, but was met by an insensitive Shabbir Mohammed, who in an exchange of emails told the sprinter he was not an elite athlete.
The former Queen's Royal College runner who has done yeoman's service to T&T, demanded an apology as he believed he was disrespected. But this never came in the ministry's release and instead it sought to deal with its workers' sensitivity.
"The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs values its relationship with our national athletes and in this regard, acknowledges its obligation to address staff sensitivity to its client interface going forward, through the conduct of refresher courses in Customer Service for all of its frontline staff," the release stated.
Contacted yesterday Thompson said he was unclear of what the ministry was attempting to achieve as it did not address the issues relating to the manner in which T&T athletes have been treated by the ministry and its Minister Darryl Smith for funding.
"It was also not the apology I requested on behalf of all the athletes," he said, making it clear athletes are interested in finding out the time lines for collection of funding so that they can plan their preparation.
The MSYA sought to highlight the criteria for receiving elite athletes funding, aimed at meeting expenses such as training schedules, coaching fees, nutritional and medical expenses, travel expenses for training, sanctioned competitions and pre-games tours, accommodation for training and professional expenses.
It noted that both the respective NGBs and the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) were consulted in the Elite Athlete Assistance Programme (EAAP) application process, as they were required to certify and endorse each application as well as recommend the disbursement in writing, as evidence the athlete/team fulfilled the requirements for funding.
According to the release the EAAP spoke to world-ranked individuals, Olympic, Commonwealth Games, World Championships, Senior Pan Am and CAC Games medallists who attained an international ranking in the top 40 of their respective disciplines in the preceding 12 month period.
Thompson took offence to government's reproach that he received $1.25 million under the EAAP between 2007 -2015 and a further $750,000 for his performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, saying it is less than he actually qualified for and far less than he spent to prepare to bring glory to the country.
He said he was not sure about accepting government's offer for grant funding as he would rather sit and hold discussions on a way forward.
Thompson said, "The issue was not the problem but rather the treatment the athletes received."
T&T's Olympic athlete Richard Thompson