TRINIDAD and Tobago’s recently crowned 2008 Olympic men’s 4x100m relay gold medalists received a whopping US$40,000 from the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) as part of its medal bonus incentive offered to athletes who achieve podium status.
The sprint quintet of Richard ‘Torpedo’ Thompson, Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callender and Aaron Armstrong earned the long-awaited payday after being upgraded from Olympic silver to gold for their 4x100m relay performance at the Beijing Games.
Initially, Jamaica won the men’s 4x100m event, led by sprinter Usain Bolt. However, in 2017, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) revealed that Jamaica team member Nesta Carter violated the anti-doping code by testing positive for methylhexaneamine.
Jamaica were disqualified and TT, who had earned silver, were announced as the new winners. The TT sprinters were originally scheduled to receive the medal upgrade in 2020 but it was postponed twice, owing to the pandemic.
The five now former athletes received their new medals in a short Olympic medal reallocation ceremony at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, on July 5.
TTOC medal bonuses are distributed to athletes from both individual and team sports who medaled in the highest multisport games such as the Olympics and Paralympics, to the lower-level events such as the recently concluded Caribbean Games held in Guadeloupe.
These bonuses will be paid out only for Games under the umbrella of TTOC and TT Commonwealth Games Association.
Local Olympic president Diane Henderson said their reward was “long overdue for their outstanding performance, effort and integrity after waiting 14 years to receive the upgrade”.
Henderson joined the former team in Switzerland for the medal presentation and said that “listening to the pan version of our national anthem at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland also added a high euphoria to the occasion”.
An elated Thompson expressed gratitude to the TTOC for creating the medal bonus incentive; one which he thinks shows great appreciation for athletes’ hard work and effort.
He said, “There are so much of sacrifices that are made, physically, emotionally, mentally and also financially by us athletes each year.
“The difficulty that it takes to prepare at every level is one that comes with a lot of difficulty and we are truly appreciative as athletes representing TT.”
Thompson continued, “To know that when we wear our national colors with pride, joy and dignity when we receive trophies that it doesn’t go unnoticed.
“Thanks again to Diane Henderson always giving us the support and the acknowledgment and to Brian Lewis (former TTOC president) for starting this initiative and for being athlete-centred.”
Also benefiting from the cash incentive were athletes who medaled at the Caribbean Games and Junior Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia.
Field athlete Kelsey Daniel pocketed TT$2,000 for his men’s long jump silver at the Pan Am Games while Tariq Horsford earned $1,500 for his men’s javelin bronze.
All athletes who medalled at the Caribbean Games are also set to receive bonuses for their achievements at the inaugural event.
Henderson highlighted that the sum of these bonuses will ensure compliance with National Collegiate Athletics Administrations’ rules and regulations, in order to support athletes who are currently on scholarships in universities outside TT.
MEDAL BONUS AWARDS:
Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games
Men’s 4x100m Relay Team (Medal Upgrade) – Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Richard Thompson, Emmanuel Callender, Aaron Armstrong
2021 Panam Sports Junior Games, Colombia
Kelsey Daniel (men long jump silver)
Tariq Horsford (men javelin bronze)
2022 Caribbean Games, Guadeloupe
2 gold (women 4x100m relay and Kion Benjamin men 100m)
2 silver (women 100m and men 4x100m)
1 bronze (women 100m)
3 gold – Nikoli Blackman (men’s 50m and 100m freestyle), Ornella Walker (women’s 100m freestyle)
5 silver – Ornella Walker (women 100m back), Nikoli Blackman (men 200m freestyle), Mark-Anthony Beckles (men 100m butterfly), Jahmia Harley (women 50m back) and 4X100m medley relay
3 bronze – Jahmia Harley (women 100m back), Aqeel Joseph (men 50m freestyle), Mark-Anthony Beckles (men 50m butterfly)
Men’s Futsal Team (bronze) – Che Benny, Darnell Hospedales, Delaney Zamore, Elijah Shade, Isaiah Williams, Kalev Keil, Omri Baird, Zion Mc Leod, Josiah Joseph, Symron Wiseman