Thompson slams Cudjoe for her “discourteous response to proposals”

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Thompson slams Cudjoe for her “discourteous response to proposals”

Elite sprinter and Olympic gold medalist Richard Thompson is upset with the refusal by the Sports Minister, Shamfa Cudjoe, to engage with him and the other members of the gold winning relay team over compensation.

The team initially earned silver at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, but were retroactively awarded gold following Jamaica’s disqualification for a doping violation by Nesta Carter. TT’s gold medal was officially awarded in 2022 at a reallocation ceremony at the Olympic Museum in Switzerland.

Since then, the team consisting of 2008 Olympic 100m silver medallist Richard Thompson, Marc Burns Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender and Aaron Armstrong say the government has “swept the victory under the rug.” They said not even a cocktail reception was held to honour them.

In July 2022, two members of the team met Cudjoe to discuss plans to develop track and field in the country as well as possible rewards for their upgraded gold. Despite submitting a written proposal as well as a digital copy, government has not responded since talks ended around August/September last year.

In a strongly worded Facebook post on Thursday, Thompson had the following to say:

“Shamfa Cudjoe – MP Tobago West – We have now done 2 press conferences requesting a meeting with you and have received no direct response. Since it is quite evident that you’re willing to respond on Facebook, I guess this is how we will communicate.

Firstly, let me make it abundantly clear that the ambassador programme as presented to you, was separate and apart from anything to do with our Olympic gold medal upgrade. Why you’re tying the two in as though the programme correlated with a reward, eludes my comprehension.

Your comments have been misleading and seem to suggest that we requested being paid a stipend to put a gold medal around our necks and sit on the couch. We presented an ambassador proposal A YEAR AGO, which I accompanied with the message that we were open to discussion, regarding the terms. We’re appalled to see that you lack the decency to have discussed your sentiments with us on what was presented. It seems you would rather release it to the public, to somehow insinuate that we were trying to fleece the government.

Our $5,000 USD figure was predicated on your conversation with Emmanuel and me, where you expressed excitement about our ideas, and that having Olympic icons fueling the next generation would be ideal. You revealed to us that other prominent athletic figures were compensated $10,000 USD a month and that they were, in your words, “not doing anything and didn’t want to let go of the treasury.” It was reasonable to believe that our actually doing significantly more for less, was a steal of a deal for the country.

It is also interesting to note that you omitted the clause that stated particular obligations had to be met to remain eligible as an ambassador, but sharing that with the public would not have been in your best interest.

We suggested mentorship, coaching clinics, school visits, club visits, and community involvement, as well as I expressed to you that there was an issue surrounding the education of how to attain scholarships abroad- only for me to see months later that your MPower programme had a night educating people on how to attain scholarships abroad. If you were going to use my ideas, I would have at least appreciated consultation on how it should be executed.

Again, not even the courtesy of a response to the proposal to say “Guys, we can’t do 5,000 but this is what we can do, or guys, we can’t do it for that length, but we can try 2 years, and based on its performance, we can consider extending or renewing.” No communication and no negotiation is what we were dealt. Zero feedback!

Why wouldn’t a Minister of Sport want to make use of a group of guys who have won Olympic Gold, Olympic Silver, World Championship Silver, Commonwealth Bronze, CAC Gold, World Relays Silver, and PanAm Silver, as well as individual International medals? We have trained at the best schools, the best professional camps, and have competed all across the world. I hold a Master’s Degree in Sports Management, Marc is a spine specialist, and Emanuel, Keston and Aaron are all professional coaches. I can guarantee you that you were getting a bargain for the knowledge, experience, and expertise that we bring to the table.

Given the current state of crime and violence in T&T, and the underwhelming global performances of our Track & Field compared to our previous standards, we felt a patriotic obligation to implant ourselves in a way that would address the country’s decaying state. Unfortunately, you do not possess the common courtesy to even respond to us to let us know that the terms of the proposal were not feasible from your Ministry’s point of view – instead, we had to find out via Facebook with you putting “all we business out on d road.” But I guess this is the way you do things.

You have made it clear that you are unwilling to work with us. All we can say now is that given the continued increase in crime, and decrease in athlete participation in schools, we can only hope and pray for a positive trajectory for our young people. Because the disconnect between the office and those willing to make a difference couldn’t be any more alarming.