On August 11th, 2012, young Keshorn Walcott became the youngest person and first Caribbean man to ever get gold at the Olympic javelin throw , and the person that would get Trinidad and Tobago’s first Olympic gold medal in 36 years, on it’s 50th year of independence as a twin-island republic.
No, I’m not trying to rain on his parade. Instead, I’m trying to shed some light on it. I’m proud of the kid. His youth, the fact that he comes from a rural area in northwest Trinidad, and the fact that his win sets so many histories all at the same time all add layers of sweetness to his win, in my opinion.
But, with that said, why do we have a national holiday to commemorate his win? Just in case you missed the memo, that holiday is today, to commemorate his return from the Olympic Village and back home.
I think that, for starters, the best way to commemorate a young man’s hard work and training on the world stage is never letting people stay home from work. And I’m almost certain this kind of stuff only happens in countries like ours. If a country like the US gave a holiday for every gold medal they earned at this year’s Olympics, they would not be working for the next month and a half. Yeah, they’ve gotten much more accustomed to winning Olympic medals, but we all have gotten used to the Olympics. People win medals. That’s kinda the point.
Which is another thing – people win them. Except for the fact that he willingly wore the T&T flag, there’s not much to cheer about. Let me put it this way – unless your country doesn’t have an Olympic Committee or you have a political or principled reason for not representing that country, you kind of have to represent the country that you’re a citizen of. Keshorn’s first two choices were to represent Trinidad & Tobago or stay at his home in Toco. He chose to go. He also chose to train, participate, and work hard enough to manage to win. He did. The boy’s name is not Trinidad & Tobago. It’s Keshorn.
Or, to put it another way…
And, even now, we’re not with the kid at the gym. Javelin is just one of the many sports that (at least in my opinion) Trinidad & Tobago’s government and people don’t give real credit or attention to. Arguably, we don’t even give due attention to the sportsmen that we have known and seen longer than young Mr. Walcott. But we know him now, which means we had the opportunity to truly reward his hard work – give him the means the work better. We could be having a conversation about how to better fund and facilitate his and so many other sports. What about Njisane Phillip’s sport of cycling? What about having a home-grown boxing competitor? What about the sports that we could’ve definitely sent athletes for, but we didn’t for one reason or another?
We missed the real chance to celebrate this young man’s achievement. In order to give people a holiday. I get the idea that we missed the mark here…do you?