The reception was held at the Anchorage, Hart’s Court, Chagaramas, and in keeping with the show of appreciation of our athletes, the 4 X 100 metres Men Relay Team of the 2012 Olympic Games, who earn the Bronze Medal but was later elevated to the Silver Medal status by the International Olympic Committee, were presented their Silver Medals by President Carmona. The members of that Relay Team were, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender, Marc Burns and Richard Thompson.
Also adding motivation to our Olympic hopefuls were the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, The Honourable Darryl Smith, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC), Mr Brian Lewis and Chef de Mission, Dr Ian Hypolite,.
Providing the main entertainment for the event was the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Services Band, while two (2) of the artistes who were involved in a Cultural Partnership with the TTOC, Sekon Sta and Rodrick Chucky Gordon, also gave exhilarating performances.
In a passionate and inspiring address, His Excellency told the Olympic Team and others present that "we must recognise the distinction between gamesmanship and sportsmanship. Gamesmanship is fashioned on the principle that winning is the ultimate goal while sportsmanship creates healthy competition and is seen as a means of nurturing personal honour, virtue and character."
The following is the completed address by His Excellency at the ceremony:
For over 6 decades, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has participated in and gloriously earned its place in the Olympic Games, sport’s highest and most internationally lauded event. Indeed, the Australian Olympic swimmer, Dawn Fraser, insightfully said, "The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself." For each of our Trinbagonian athletes who will participate in Rio 2016, the search for excellence has already been achieved at home as you have qualified to represent Trinidad and Tobago. That is, in itself, a testament of personal excellence, as you join the ranks of the world’s most elite athletes. You each have already won a medal and that medal, is the national respect, admiration and the high esteem of every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago. Yes, it has given you the right to be celebrated and be called an Olympian. Your status as an Olympian is a coveted badge of honour you will wear for the rest of your life. All of you must also be acknowledged and commended for choosing a life of sports, one which can only build discipline, character and patriotism. You are a template of tomorrow’s generation.
Celebrity status comes and goes but your distinction as an Olympian will forever be etched in the national psyche and consciousness. It is however, never enough to simply participate when you are capable of far more; conquer you must, in your field of endeavour. You will all be the voices, faces and dynamos of change and development in the areas of environmental conservation, youth empowerment, education and sports. I applaud your immeasurable contributions to a better and more progressive Trinidad and Tobago, in and out of the Olympic arena, and urge that even after Rio 2016, you continue to be strong and relentless in your social responsibility to our nation and its people.
It is anticipated that in true Trinbagonian style, our athletes will observe the highest standards of ethics, respect and integrity at Rio 2016. You must display athletic prowess but you must also be the quintessence of sportsmanship and fair play. Victory without sportsmanship and fair play is a pyrrhic victory, so as our sporting ambassadors to the world, always play fair, compete fair and win fair. To each of our athletes, be a source of empowerment, upliftment and motivation to each other because we are all better, greater and stronger together rather than standing alone. Be your brothers’ and sisters’ keepers at the Games and ensure that fair play and genuine sportsmanship prevails.
We must recognise however the distinction between gamesmanship and sportsmanship. Gamesmanship is fashioned on the principle that winning is the ultimate goal while sportsmanship creates healthy competition and is seen as a means of nurturing personal honour, virtue and character. It is how the game is played rather than who wins. We all want to be winners but it must not be at any cost.
In sports, the size of the country matters not, as excellence is defined and determined by far more cogent and relevant factors. Sport is indeed the great equalizer and we know this all too well from the phenomenal victories of our two gold medallists, Hasley Crawford and Keshorn Walcott. In our athlete’s quest for glory, rest assured they will have the unstinting support of this Republic. We shall be applauding every attempt, every final conquered, every medal won, be it gold, silver or bronze, at Rio 2016. That pulsating sense of glory and accomplishment felt at Olympics past is indeed, the epitome and heart of national pride.
To our 2016 Olympians, "Citius, Altius, Fortius"- swifter, higher, stronger. Believe in the power of your unique greatness, as all of Trinidad and Tobago believes in you.
It is with tremendous honour and pride that I, along with my family and the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, salute each of our nation’s 2016 Olympians and wish you all a most beneficial and successful Rio 2016.