By Joel Julien [email protected]
It was a day of rewards at Piarco International Airport yesterday as Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott returned home after a stunning gold medal performance at the London games.
Walcott, the teenage sensation from Toco, yesterday returned to this country after a record-breaking performance during the men’s javelin throw in the London Olympics on Saturday.
Walcott, 19, won gold with a throw of 84.58 metres.
He was yesterday honoured for his feat and left the airport well rewarded.
Among the goodies presented by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to Walcott yesterday was $1 million in cash “to be invested as he so desires”.
Walcott will also receive a home in the upscale community of Federation Park valued at $2.5 million.
“For bringing us such pride and recognition to the nation of Trinidad and Tobago Keshorn Walcott will receive 20,000 square feet, that is, four lots of land in Toco,” Persad-Bissessar said.
She also said, “A housing project to be called the Keshorn Walcott Housing Development will be established. This development will bring housing and employment to Toco.”
“The Lighthouse, a historical site, will now be known as the Keshorn Walcott Lighthouse standing as a beacon to guide us all towards what it takes to get to our dreams,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“A Caribbean Airlines aircraft will be commissioned to bear the proud name of Keshorn Walcott,” she said. Walcott was also given a model of a Caribbean Airlines aircraft.
He was also awarded a scholarship to the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) “to further his studies in his chosen field”.
Walcott however was not the only one rewarded yesterday.
His mother Beverley Walcott who had been asking for it since last week, was given the Olympic flowers she asked for.
In addition to receiving precious metal, medallists at the London Olympics are also given a bouquet of flowers.
During an interview with the Express last week before the men’s javelin final Beverley said she had asked her son to bring home the flowers for her.
Her wish came true.
Beverley was seen with the flowers in hand yesterday.
Walcott’s coach Ismael Lopez was also honoured yesterday.
Persad-Bissessar yesterday said that “Lopez will be placed in charge of an elite throws programme at UTT where all future talent including Keshorn can be developed in field events”.
“Coach Lopez you have done an amazing job and I honour your result by promising you here that your appeal for facilities for field events will be realised as I have advised the Minister of Sport to bring a recommendation before the Cabinet for consideration,” Persad-Bissessar said.
The last time Trinidad and Tobago achieved a gold medal was 36 years ago at the Olympic Games in Montreal,Canada in 1976 when sprinter Hasely Crawford won the men’s 100 metres final.
It was Carnival in August at the Piarco International Airport yesterday as hundred of people dressed in red gathered to greet the country’s newest hero.
There was soca music, body paint, moko jumbies, music trucks and waving flags for Walcott’s homecoming.
Ann Phillip, 72, of Pleasantville in San Fernando told the Express she took a bus, a maxi and two taxis just to see Walcott.
But despite braving the rain and transportation woes, Phillip said her only concern during the road trip was that she would reach in time to see Walcott with his medal.
“We have waited very long for this and I am glad to be part of this history,” Phillip said.
Angela Dandrade from Freeport said she was up before sunrise to be able to share in the historic moment. She said it was worth it.
“I am glad I came, I am really happy and he just looked so humble, I am glad for him and his success,” Dandrade said.
But the people who really revelled in the moment were the people from Toco.
They wore jerseys hailing Walcott as the “pride and joy of Toco”.
Marlon Beckles, 23, from Walcott’s hometown Trois Roche Village said the entire community was proud of “Keshie’s” achievements.
He however hoped that the State would fix the Toco road in honour of the Olympic champion.
Collis Marcano, Walcott’s former technical drawing teacher at the Toco Secondary School, said he was “not surprised” with the gold medal accomplishment.
Marcano described Walcott as “exceptional”.
Marcano echoed Beckles’ call for the Toco road to be fixed.
“He (Walcott) cannot truly enjoy the things he has been given if the roads are not fixed,” Marcano said.
Full list of rewards: