Thousands greet Olympic heroes
By NEWSDAY STAFF Friday, August 31 2012
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MY HERO: This jubilant supporter who gave her name only as 'Lily' gleefully hugs London Olympic 2012 gold medallist Keshorn Walcott during a motorcade...
THOUSANDS of persons, some waving the National flag, thronged both sides of the Eastern Main Road from Arouca in the East straight into the Capital, Port-of-Spain yesterday, to witness a motorcade in honour of TT athletes who made the nation proud at the recent 2012 London Olympics.
This was the final leg of the TT Olympic ‘caravan’ which began shortly after the athletes returned home from London. The undoubted star of the motorcade was 19-year-old athlete Keshorn Walcott, who won this country’s second ever Olympic Gold medal, in the Javelin finals.
“Keshorn, Keshorn, Keshorn! We love you”, “We want Keshorn”, “Oh gosh he real cute boy, look at he face”, were some of the shouts and comments from persons in the crowd.
The motorcade was supposed to start at 2.30 pm but never left the starting point until 3.45 pm. The athletes journeyed into Arouca along the main road where they stopped off at Five Rivers Junction which was not part of the formal route. The athletes handed out flags, bandanas and pens to those who came to see them.
The motorcade was greeted by the largest crowd along the route, in Tunapuna, where thousands of persons lined both sides of the road from El Dorado Road up to the Tunapuna Police Station.
A cultural programme was held involving tassa drumming and cultural dances.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who was part of the motorcade, wished everyone a Happy 50th Anniversary of Independence. She then brought on Walcott who received thunderous applause from the crowd.
Walcott thanked everyone for their support as he promised to repeat his gold medal winning performance, at the Brazil Olympics in 2016.
While the motorcade proceeded smoothly and was generally incident free according to feedback from the police who were on patrol, things were anything but smooth on the Priority Bus Route (PBR) which experienced bumper-to- bumper traffic.
This was so as traffic along the Eastern Main Road was diverted onto the PBR to facilitate the motorcade.
Unable to hold the large volume of private vehicles, Public Transportation Service Corporation (PTSC) buses and maxi-taxis, the PBR quickly became congested and traffic was snarled for several hours.
This in turn led to thousands of passengers at the City Gate hub in Port-of-Spain being left stranded for several hours as they waited for buses and maxi-taxis to arrive to pick them up
A maxi-taxi driver who gave his name as ‘Steve’, said he and several other drivers were parked up at City Gate to wait out the traffic gridlock on the PBR, “rather than burn fuel”. Commuters were also not going anywhere.
“I don’t know what to do. There are no buses either. Right now I am thinking of different ways to safely get out of the city to my home,” stated a woman who gave her name only as ‘Myrna’.
Several cultural shows and parades along the roads in the capital also did not help the situation leading to several roads in Port-of-Spain and Wrightson Road in the West to the Beetham Highway in the East, experiencing bumper-to-bumper traffic.