FOUR-TIME Olympic medallist Ato Boldon says informing young athletes about who has come before them is crucial in bridging the gap between the icons of TT and those who will follow.
Boldon made the comment at the viewing of the “Icons of TT Motivational video, shown at the Harts Mas Camp in Woodbrook on Tuesday night.
Boldon, former national cyclist Michael Phillips and his team at Phillips Promotions are among the people behind the video.
The video features memorable moments in TT’s illustrious history in sport and culture, and did not only highlight past athletes and entertainers, but also people who are in the prime of their careers.
Sporting heroes featured in the video, which is narrated by Boldon, include footballers Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy, cricketers Brian Lara and Sunil Narine, cyclists Roger Gibbon and Phillips, sprinters Boldon, Richard Thompson and Michelle-Lee Ahye, swimmer George Bovell, shotputter Cleopatra Borel, sailor Andrew Lewis, paralympian Akeem Stewart and the 2006 World Cup football team.
The video also highlights other cultural icons such as calysonians Lord Kitchener, the Mighty Sparrow, Calypso Rose, David Rudder, Black Stalin, soca artiste Machel Montano, masman Peter Minshall, designer Anya Ayoung-Chee, writer Sir Vidia Naipaul,panman Ken “Professor” Philmore and calypsonian Shadow, who both died recently. Beauty queens Wendy Fitzwilliam, Giselle Laronde-West and Penny Commissiong are also in the video.
Boldon said, “As a society, we tend to discard our icons and our heroes. This is not about me, this is about the VS Naipauls and the Shadows.
The kids today, they don’t have (enough knowledge of the local icons)...there is history before Hasely (Crawford). There is Wendell Mottley, what percentage of the population knows about McDonald Bailey?”
Bailey was a TT/British 100m sprinter, who represented Great Britain at the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games.
Boldon said for TT to produce top athletes consistently, current athletes must know about the past. He said the story of former TT weightlifter Rodney Wilkes should be told.
“But the truth is, you can’t get a Keshorn Walcott without telling the McDonald Bailey story or the Rodney Wilkes story.”
Wilkes represented TT at the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games. Boldon said in Jamaica the younger generation is more aware of past Jamaican greats, such as Olympic runners Don Quarrie and Herb McKenley.
“We do not teach our kids our history, and that is unique to us, because the kids in Jamaica they know about Don Quarrie, they know about Herb McKenley.
“We as the adults have to do a better job. So that is why when Michael (Phillips) calls me for something like this I say, ‘Michael, I am there, because this is a cause that is near and dear to my heart.’”
Among those featured in the motivational video, who attended the viewing included Fitzwilliam, Lewis and Borel.
In the three-and-a-half-minute video, Boldon says the size of TT does not prevent this country from achieving.
“We may come from tiny islands, but the world knows who we are. We can’t help but be great. We are unique in our sound, our style, they way we move, the way we tell our stories.
We are not strangers to accomplishing what has never been accomplished before.”
The video encourages people in TT to find their purpose in life.
“I am calling on you today,” says Boldon, “to set positive goals and not just be a bystander or someone who goes through life without following a passion. I want to encourage you to find your passion and go after it.”