Trinidad and Tobago’s Youth Parapan American Games quadruple gold medallist, Shanntol Ince is in line to become one of the country’s first para athletes to benefit from the Ministry of Sport’s Elite Athlete Assistance Programme.
At a reception for the 18-year-old swimmer at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s, yesterday, Minister of Sport Anil Roberts said that while junior athletes do not get monetary rewards, Ince is in the process of getting elite athlete funding.
Ince competed in the 2013 Youth Parapan American Games in Buenos Aries, Argentina, where she won gold in the 400 metres freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly and 100m backstroke events.
Asked if any monetary rewards would be given to Ince for her performances, Roberts said: “We have a process and procedure to go through based on criteria.
“Junior athletes do not get monetary rewards but the times that Shanntol has done and her world ranking has been put into the paperwork and there is a committee at the Ministry and the Sport Company which will go through it and see what level of the elite funding she has reached.
“She will receive elite funding, at what level they will announce later when they finish their deliberation,” Roberts explained.
President of the T&T Paralympic Committee (TTPC) Kenneth McKell confirmed that the committee had applied for both Ince and blind field athlete Carlos Greene to get assistance.
McKell said Ince’s recent performance “has exemplified for Trinidad and Tobago and the Paralympic Movement our values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality.
“We have worked hard and we have delivered,” he said.
McKell is hoping that Ince’s performances in Argentina can help boost the profile of the TTPC’s ongoing awareness campaign, “Equal Halves Make Us One”, which is designed to promote the Paralympic Movement and para-sports as well as to identify future para athletes.
He said the search for future para athletes heads to Scarborough, Tobago during the second week of December.
Speaking about her own success, Ince said she did not expect it.
“Just going through the process and really achieving it, it was not something that I expected...it was something I really wanted more than expected.”
Asked about her inspiration, she said: “My mom and dad. They have really sacrificed a lot and even my siblings, they really inspired me because I see my mom worked really hard over the past years and they made a lot of sacrifices to have me where I am today, so I really used that as a driving point because I want to be better. I want to be something they can be proud of and I can be proud of.”
She added that George Bovell is another inspiration for her.
“We see George swimming over the years and we actually see his dedication and his love and passion for the sport, and not being limited to just competing in this country and really wanting to represent Trinidad on a greater stage.
“Seeing him do that has been an inspiration to me to really get to that level and really carry the sport of swimming to that level,” Ince ended.