Hail to our champion parents
This week a 17-year-old boy achieved a phenomenal feat in Trinidad and Tobago swimming.
Not only is he the first swimmer to ever medal in the World Junior Swimming Championships, but he is the first swimmer in my recollection, not named George Bovell III, to have generated a wave of national pride. Social media was abuzz. The media gave 100 per cent support to the team. And now everyone knows our newest champion Dylan Carter.
The intention is not to further glorify his magnificent achievement, but to give the story behind the story…to let the people of Trinidad and Tobago know what patriotism entails, what love for your sport costs, and to glorify the real champions behind the swimming champions— the parents!
Not just Everard and Tracy Carter, but also the parents of the other team members—Beverly and Wayne Julien (Kristin’s parents); Dean and Jacqueline Romany (Joshua’s parents); Kim and Anthony Ramkissoon (Jonathan’s parents), and Craig and Babette Martin (Tyla’s parents) and all parents of national athletes.
This group of parents works progressively and in unity to ensure the five athletes on the team, in the face of uncertainty and even some animosity, made it to Dubai.
From temporary loans among one another, to waiting in bank lines to advance monies to the Amateur Swimming Association of Trinidad and Tobago (ASATT), to using credit cards to pay for team officials, to having athletes bunk with one another during training stints just to save a dollar, to dipping into personal savings and retirement funds, thankfully, they all made it to Dubai.
While the Dubai trip itself may have been $30,000 an athlete, preparing for the trip cost double and triple that amount.
Parents in the sport lend continued support regardless of all that is meted out to them.
Patriotism and love for your child can make you do some crazy things, like wake up at 4 a.m. to take them to morning training and then return for an evening session. Shipping out children to the US and other countries to train with or without parental supervision, depending on how the pockets are, is another investment and frankly, a risk.
There are the physiotherapy fees, gym fees, personal training, food, supplements, gas, training fees and a host of other expenses. Not to mention managing hormones and new attitudes which creep up in the teenage years.
Sometimes due to insufficient planning by administration, parents are forced to make spur-of-the-moment financial decisions just for athletes to represent the red, white and black. Yet their contribution to the development of sport in Trinidad and Tobago is at times completely undervalued.
So Trinidad and Tobago, without the support of the parents, the Dylan Carters and George Bovells would not have achieved what they have. We can be almost sure persons like Jehue Gordon, Andrew Lewis and Njisane Phillip would attest to the same.
Trinidad and Tobago needs at this time of Independence to salute the parents of our athletes who for years on end are the true flag bearers, the cheerleaders, the supporters, the screamers, the backbone of all our athletes, especially the ones who bring glory to the red, white and black.
On behalf of all Trinbagonians, I would like to specially thank the parents of the World Junior swim team.
While at times faith was a scarce commodity, you stuck it out as a team, and ensured that Trinidad and Tobago had its best performance ever at the World Junior Championships.
You all share in Dylan’s silver!
Jason Andre Wickham