T&T’s successful 4x400m relay team will not be receiving any rewards from the government for their gold medal success at the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, Japan on Sunday. That’s because the event does not fall under the list of international events the national reward policy identifies.
Under the current policy launched in March 2018, T&T athletes are rewarded $1m for gold medals, $500,000 for silver medals and $250,000 for bronze medals at the Olympic Games. At the World Championships or World Cup events, athletes are awarded $500,000 for gold medals, $250,000 for silver and $125,000 for bronze.
The five-man team of Deon Lendore, Jereem Richards, Asa Guevara, Machel Cedenio and Onal Mitchell represented T&T at the World Relays and will receive $US50,000 from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for the first prize. According to Inside the Games’ website, a total of $US1.19m prize money was on offer at the championship. That figure was slightly down from the 2017 total of $US1.26m, with up to $US50,000 going to each winner this year.
The quartet of Lendore, Richards, Guevara and Cedenio sped to gold in the Men’s 4x400m relay final, beating the United States in a photo finish for the ages in a world-leading time of 3:00.81. The latter was disqualified shortly after the race for a lane infringement.
In an interview with Guardian Media Sports yesterday, Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe said, “You would find in the policy, only games and meets and competitions that are geared towards the Olympics are where rewards are granted, and this specific meet is not under that policy.”
The minister went further in explaining, “The incentive policy and the sport policy we have right now in the ministry were created based on consultations with the stakeholders and right now the current policy speaks to international and regional games that are geared towards the highest level of competition in the specific discipline so it’s really geared towards the Olympics.”
While the World Relays is seen as a marquee international event, minister Cudjoe confirmed: “the policy provides for a review every four years so if by that time the stakeholders feel the need to revisit that position then, it’s fine”.
Just over 24 hours after the race, T&T sprinter Richards was still riding high after the team’s success. He said in an interview with Guardian Media Sports, “It reminded me of our days running as juniors when you would just see Machel do the impossible, making up distance out of nowhere… Machel played a really big role. I thought maybe he would get second but with each metre, he just kept getting closer and closer.”
With the likes of Lalonde Gordon, Renny Quow and Dwight St Hillaire missing, Richards said: “the victory shows T&T has a lot of depth in 400m running”. He now hopes this will inspire young sprinters in T&T to keep working hard so the country can maintain the standard set in the international arena.
For the second time in two years, T&T’s anchorman came from behind to beat the United States in a 4x400m final. While Richards maintained it was part of the plan to catch their sprinter on the anchor leg, he admitted it isn’t easy to hold the lead all the way through the final leg. “It’s better than you are behind than you are in front. Being the leader of the pack is a lot of pressure and not a lot of people in this world can win a 4x4 from in front,” Richards said.