$M gifts for T&T's Olympic champion
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Trinidad and Tobago, basking in the glory of its first Olympic gold medal in 36 years, showered its latest sporting hero with a number of gifts including a TT$2.5 million (One TT $ = US$0.16 cents) home in a high end residential area that once housed former officials of the failed West Indian Federation.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, addressing thousands of nationals who gathered at the Piarco International Airport to welcome home 19-year-old Kershorn Walcott, who pulled off a stunning upset by winning the men's javelin throw on the penultimate day of the London Olympics on Saturday, said the gifts were for "bringing pride and recognition to the nation of Trinidad & Tobago".
In addition to the luxury home, Walcott, whose gold medal emulates the feat of Hasley Crawford when he won the 100 metres at the Canadian Olympics in 1976, will also be given 20,000 square feet in his home village of Toco, south of here.
Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar said that a housing project called The Keshorn Walcott Housing Development will be also be established in the area providing housing and employment to residents of Toco.
"A Caribbean Airlines aircraft will be commissioned to bear the proud name of Keshorn Walcott. The Lighthouse a, historical site, will now be known as the Keshorn Walcott Lighthouse standing as a beacon to guide us all towards what it takes to get to our dreams," she said, adding that the Olympian would also receive one million dollars "to be invested as he so desires".
She said Walcott, the youngest-ever gold medal winner of the javelin in Olympic history will also be awarded a scholarship to the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) "to further his studies in his chosen field, while his coach Lopez will be placed in charge of an elite throws programme at UTT where all future talent including Keshorn can be developed in field events.
In an emotional brief response, Walcott said "I went out there and did my best", praising God, his coach, manager and everyone for his success.
The prime minister said that gifts for the other Olympians that include Lalonde Gordon, who won bronze in the 400 metres and the men's 4x100 relay team that was given the bronze medal after Canada had been disqualified, would be announced later.
Sports Minister Anil Roberts said Trinidad & Tobago fielded its largest-ever contingent to an Olympic Games producing the best returns in the nation's history.
Yesterday was a public holiday to celebrate the achievement of local Olympians who won four medals at the London Olympics that ended on Sunday.