(Trinidad Guardian) Ato Boldon, a four-time Olympic medallist was pulling no punches on Saturday, during a radio interview when he stated that he has lost faith in the current Minister of Sports, Daryl Smith.
“I had a meeting with the Minister of Sports Daryl Smith after the women won the Bronze medal in the relays in 2015 and presented a plan, that both Ian Hypolite and myself had worked on so that we could continue being successful in the sports. It was not that much at the time, and the country was not experiencing financial constraints and it involved the relay teams getting together to practice regularly. The Minister watched me and said Ato lets do it, let us go ahead with your plan and we will do this,” Boldon told reporter Andre Errol Baptiste.
Boldon, speaking from his base in Florida, USA, said, “But now two years later, nothing has happened so I will no longer listen and wait for anything to happen, because nothing has come out of those words to me.”
Boldon who was part of the coaching staff at the World Championships is disappointed, that nothing has been done since then and that has led to the results we have achieved, “We have to put in place training and practice sessions for our relay teams and not just expect them to turn up, get together months before a Games and do well, if you look at our competitors, they are ensuring that their respective teams practice together. Many times, the opponents do not individually have the fastest times in events, but their baton passing ensures that they medal. In our case, we sometimes expect it because individuals have fast times, it will all come together easily but that sort of thinking is old, those days are gone,” Boldon explained on Isports I95FM radio.
As to the cry by the Athletic Association, that many times, the athletes cannot find the time in their individual schedules to meet and train, Boldon has a plan, “We need to do like other countries and say, ok, if you have ran the time and qualified for the individual event, then yes you can represent T&T in the individual events, but unless you come to train and practice at the schedule times, then no thank you, we will use someone else. It has to be compulsory to be a part of the training and the specialised preparation for relays and those who do not want to do that should not be a part of the team. At the moment, three of the women are all based in Florida, USA, Kelly –Ann (Baptiste), Khalifa (St Fort) and Semoy (Hackett), so this should not be difficult, we need to establish these rules very quickly, otherwise looking ahead to the Olympics in 2020, we will find ourselves short again,” said Boldon.
Boldon, a sports analyst for NBC in both athletics and NASCAR, said “If it was not for my involvement with Khalifa, I would have probably just gone on doing my commentary stuff and not worry so much about the situation in this country, because I’m always repeating myself and nobody is listening. It appears that once Ato Boldon is involved, a lot of persons belief that their egos will be affected, but I do not want any coaching job, I just want people to listen in the best interest of T&T.”
Boldon, who celebrated his 44th birthday on Saturday, said, that while he was bias as it relates to rewards, because he was well rewarded by this country, the achievement by the 4×400 men should have been rewarded. “This was history, this was never done and some way should have been found to reward them already. However, in terms of elite funding, we know that the country is in a difficult financial position so the athletes themselves as hard as it is may have to find innovative ways to get funding. It makes no sense to stop all your training and dreams and say you’re not getting any funding so you are not going to train and just give up.”