Review of National Sports Awards

First Vice President of the St Lucia Olympic Committee Fortuna Belrose.

Every now and then I am forced to put pen to paper to express my thoughts on what I see as injustices to the psyche of our few sports people. I am convinced that those who are the architects of such wrongful deeds themselves, do not understand the varying levels of sport.  For ease of understanding the argument here, there are basically six steps to the ladder of international recognition and success in sports and Saint Lucia attempts to climb them annually. (1) Local, (2) Sub regional – OECS, (3) Regional – Caribbean, (4) Sub Continental – Central American and Caribbean Championships, (5) Continental – Americas Championships, (6) World – International Federation Competitions, Olympic Games, Commonwealth. The highest ranking is the world level which is what every athlete and every nation aspires to achieve.
In his presentation on the Sports Awards night, the Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Shawn Edward, indicated that his goal was to ensure that a philosophy emerges for world class sports men and women. So it struck me most significantly when a young world class athlete could not be recognized or given the honor of being Saint Lucia’s Junior Athlete of the Year.
Mr Editor, a bronze medal at the CARIFTA Games is much more significant than a gold medal at the OECS level because of the quality and level of the competition. Similarly a bronze medal at a World event is much more significant than any other gold medal in the other levels of sport. There are distinct categories of sports competitions, that’s why when athletes win, the least of the three medals (a bronze) at the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, their countries celebrate them in the most unimaginable way possible.  It means that they have arrived and that their country has gained recognition that no tourism budget can afford to give them. One young athlete did just that,but was not given the honor of the prestigious title of Saint Lucia’s Junior Sports personality of the Year. Something is certainly amiss.
As Saint Lucia presses towards the mark of hosting the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, we need to get it right! Our citizens must have a clear understanding of the level of competition that our young people will be exposed to. It will be world level and any achievement in that arena is worthy of much pomp and ceremony. We cannot continually afford to minimize or trivialize the performances of our world class junior athletes’.
In 2003, when we were recognizing sportsmen and women on the occasion of our countries 25th Anniversary of Independence, we made a similar mistake by not recognizing Levern Spencer in the distinguished group of 25 persons, after she too had won a bronze medal at the World Championships for Athletics and she was by far the athlete of the decade. I am aware that recommendations for the improvement of the Sports Awards have been made and submitted to the appropriate authorities, but we continue to make the same mistakes. Thank God Levern was not discouraged when she was not recognized in 2003, but she persevered and today continues to be that shining example for our young people. She is a model that we all can be proud of.
So to Jeannelle Scheper, Lyndell Marcellin and Denzel St Marthe and all the other youthful contenders for the award of Junior Athlete of the Year, I say only time will tell. Just as Levern remained focused and is today still proving her worth, you too can do the same. Do not be discouraged continue to fight the good fight because you are still pioneers in our quest to ensure that our people understand sport and give it the recognition that it merits in the  advancement of our society. It will be your stories that will contribute to making it better so press towards the mark as there are limitless possibilities with the path that all of you have all chosen.

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