T&T relay men set for 2008 Olympic gold but Fraternity’s sorry for Bolt

Flashback… Former Prime Minister Patrick Manning and then sports minister Gary Hunt pose with members of the T&T 4x100 mens relay team during a welcome reception at Piarco International Airport in 2008. From left is Aaron Amstrong, Emmanuel Callender, Richard Thompson, Rondel Sorillo, Keston Bledman and Marc Burns.

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The situation developed yesterday, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reported it had disqualified Jamaica’s gold-medal winning 4x100 relay team from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, after one of their athletes, Nesta Carter, tested positive for methylhexaneamine, a banned stimulant, in re-analysis of samples from the Games.

As a result, the team of Carter, Usain Bolt, Michael Frater and Asafa Powell were stripped of their medals, medallist pins and diplomas.

However, T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis was yesterday cautious in confirming that the local team of Richard Thompson, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender and Marc Burns, who copped silver in 38.06 behind the Jamaicans in the event, will be upgraded.

He said: “In terms of any speculation about T&T being awarded the gold medal, that is very premature at this point in time because the Olympic Committee has not received any official correspondence from the IOC that is specific to T&T relay team.

“What we would have received, like everyone else, is an official press statement from the IOC and a document outlining the decision and the reason for the decision of the disciplinary committee and all those documents are specific to Jamaica.

“It is therefore premature of the TTOC to speculate on any upgrading of the T&T Beijing 2008 Olympic Games men’s 4x100m relay team medals from silver to gold. The IOC has its protocols and procedures in respect of medal upgrades.

“As such, we have taken note of the IOC disciplinary commission decision and official press release. The TTOC will fully cooperate with the IOC and look forward to a quick resolution.”

He added, “It is always a disappointing and an unfortunate situation when an athlete from any country is embroiled in such a situation and, more so, a Caribbean athlete.”

However, the IOC protocol is for the teams finishing second, third and fourth to be upgraded for the event. This would put T&T in the gold medal spot, silver will go to Japan and the bronze to Brazil.

Bledman yesterday expressed his sympathy for Jamaican sprint star Bolt, whose legacy may now be erased, and shared that he didn’t want to win a medal in such a manner.

“It’s gold, so yes I am happy, but I don’t like to win a medal like that. That is like a ‘hand me down,’” Bledman said.

“Bolt is a great athlete. He has proven he is the best in the world and taking that from him, it kind of sucks.”

He added, “Even though we could get gold, we didn’t get that opportunity to hear the anthem played in the Bird’s Nest in Beijing. It’s like I get it...I didn’t win it. I’m feeling bad for Bolt mostly. He is a great athlete.”

Bledman’s teammate, Burns, was in class when the news broke and received a number of messages from individuals on his phone

“I was wondering what was going on. When I checked some messages in between, people were saying congratulations and asking if it was true. It’s only when class was over I heard from a friend what had happened,” Burns told the T&T Guardian.

“I was kind of surprised because we didn’t hear anything about this case for a while. It’s a good feeling to know I now have an Olympic gold to add to my previous awards. However, I must say it’s a bittersweet feeling for me because of the way in which we secured the medals. It also came almost a decade later and so it took away the joy of celebrating with my team and hearing my country’s anthem standing on the podium.

“That aside, I’ve been in track and field since the age of six and I’ve been to four Olympic Games so now nearing the end of my career, I can now say I’m an Olympic gold medallist. It’s like the saying goes. What is for you is for you!”

National Administration for Athletic Associations (NAAA) president Ephraim Serrette took took a similar stance as the TTOC head on the news.

“I do not want to comment on it because we have not gotten any official document on how the disqualification of the Jamaican team will affect our relay team,” Serrette said.

“But it’s nothing to celebrate. The other athletes are being penalised but they didn’t break the rules.”



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