Trinidad and Tobago, basking in the glory of its first Olympic gold medal for 36 years,showered its latest sporting hero with a number of gifts including a TT$2.5 million (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) home in a high end residential area that once housed former officials of the failed West Indian federation.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, addressing thousands of nationals who gathered at the Piarco International Airport to welcome home 19-year old Keshorn Walcott, who pulled off a stunning upset by winning the men's javelin throw on the penultimate day of the London Olympics on Saturday, said the gifts were for "bringing pride and recognition to the nation of Trinidad and Tobago".
In addition to the luxury home, Walcott, whose gold medal emulates the feat of Hasley Crawford when he won the 100 meters at the Canadian Olympics in 1976, will also be given 20,000 square feet in his home village of Toco, south of here.
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said that a housing project called "The Keshorn Walcott Housing Development" will also be established in the area providing housing and employment to residents of Toco.
"A Caribbean Airlines aircraft will be commissioned to bear the proud name of Keshorn Walcott . 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," she said, adding that the Olympian would also receive one million dollars "to be invested as he so desires".
She said Walcott, the youngest ever gold medal winner of the javelin in Olympic history will also be awarded a scholarship to the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) "to further his studies in his chosen field while his coach Lopez will be placed in charge of an elite throws program at UTT where all future talent including Keshorn can be developed in field events.
"Keshorn, each of these rewards honour you, there is nothing greater than the glory you have brought to this nation and no greater expression ever than the pride and gratitude every citizen feels," she told the crowd that chanted the name of the latestsporting hero from the twin island republic. In an emotional brief response, Walcott said "I went out there and did my best" praising God, his coach, manager and everyone for his success. "I would like to say thanks to everybody who supported me," he added.
The Prime Minister said that gifts for the other Olympians that include Lalonde Gordon, who won bronze in the 400 metres and the men's 4×100 relay team that was given the bronze medal after Canada had been disqualified, would be announced later.
She told Walcott that the "inspiration you have become is truly the stuff that dreams are made of, and the pride we feel today cannot be adequately expressed. "Your Olympic medal represents what is possible from us as a small nation with such huge otential. "It is a timely reminder of what we can achieve against all odds. Your gold medal achievement is an inspiration to so many young people in many endeavours."
The Prime Minister said that it should serve as a "lesson in self belief and an expression of what being a citizen of this great little nation truly means. "You have shown that great achievements are built on big dreams and demonstrated to the world that Trinidad and Tobago can not only compete against the best, but also win against the best."
Sports Minister Anil Roberts said that Trinidad and Tobago fielded its largest ever contingent to an Olympic Games producing the best returns in the nation's history.