Olympic gold medallist Keshorn Walcott was yesterday advised to seek wise counsel on the multi-million-dollar rewards he has been granted by the Government.
Walcott, who won gold in the Olympic field event of javelin last Saturday, returned home yesterday to a mammoth welcoming at Piarco International Airport, along with cyclist Njisane Phillip.
Addressing the gathering at the airport, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar rewarded Walcott with $1 million, a $2.5 million house in Federation Park, 20,000 square feet of land in Toco, an HDC housing development, a scholarship at the University of Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean Airlines aircraft to be named after him and the Toco Lighthouse to be renamed the Keshorn Walcott Toco Lighthouse.
In telephone interviews with the Express, People's National Movement (PNM) Senator Fitzgerald Hinds, MP Donna Cox, Port of Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing and former prime minister Basdeo Panday all advised the 19-year-old Trois Roche, Toco resident to seek wise counsel.
"He appears to be a very humble and respectful individual and my advice is that he remains focused, disciplined and humble and most of all remain close to his family. He should keep his feet to the ground and do not allow the stardom and fame to get on top of him" Hinds warned.
Commenting on the gifts showered on the gold medallist, Hinds said he thought they were "quite generous and thoughtful" and he would be awaiting what else would be given to the young athlete.
Hinds added that he was also waiting to hear of plans to construct a stadium in the Toco area "with modern amenities and swimming facilities" to produce more Walcotts.
Sharing Hinds' sentiment, Panday advised the Government to spend the State's resources on other sporting facilities.
"The Government has a lot of money. What I will hope is that more money will be spent on the infrastructure for the development for many more sporting activities. That is what I like to see. He would have had the best advice otherwise he would not have reached where he did, my advice is to the Government really. Provide more sporting facilities in the rural areas as well as the urban and to take sport seriously. I don't think they have done that," Panday said.
Panday congratulated Walcott "on his tremendous victory", saying Walcott put Trinidad and Tobago on the map. He added that he hoped this would enlighten other youths to give up crime and other forms of bad living and emulate Walcott's performance.
Cox said she was in agreement with the prizes but found that not mentioning what the other athletes would receive, if anything at all, was in "poor taste".
She added that Walcott's achievement was an indication that Governments should spend money on things like good coaches and special training facilities, particularly for the javelin as she sees an influx of young people wanting to throw their names into the lists of possible medallists come next Olympics.
She said Walcott would need proper mentors and advice on how to spend his money.
Mayor Lee Sing said: "He should get a counsellor to advise him on what to do with the assets he now has. Whether to rent out the house in Federation Park and live humbly in Toco. He should be told that a million dollars can disappear very quickly if not managed and allowed to grow."
Lee Sing said Walcott has been amply rewarded for his efforts and should recognise the assets given to him was done following a national achievement. He added that such an achievement meant the responsibility is his to be a model for all.