By Andre Bagoo Saturday, September 1 2012
THE YOUNGEST ever recipient of the country’s highest award, Olympic gold medallist Keshorn Walcott, 19, last night issued an appeal to the youth of the nation to turn away from the temptations of a life of crime and instead choose sport.
“Sport is a good way of not wasting time out there,” he said when asked what message he had for youth. “You should consider it an option. It’s the better option for young people out there to go into rather than going into crime.”
He was speaking to the media at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, minutes after he rose from the front row of the hall, took eight steps up to President George Maxwell Richards to receive the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, 20 days after winning gold at London, throwing the javelin 84.58 metres.
Walcott dedicated the award of the nation’s highest honour to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
“I am proud to have received this knowing that it was big surprise to me when I was told. I am just really happy right now. I was told this week,”Walcott said. “Other than winning the Olympic gold medal this is another big achievement in itself, getting the highest award of Trinidad and Tobago. I would have to dedicate this award to the people of Trinidad and Tobago for all the support that was given.”
He said there was now “a little” pressure on him to top his achievements to date. But he has more in store.
“There are all these things that I want to accomplish and this is just a stepping stone,” he said. “I believe that I can achieve once again. Topping this is going to be hard but I am going to try my best. It is going to put a little bit of pressure on me knowing that the expectation is there. So I am just going to go out to represent.” Walcott said he was not abandoning the people of his home town, Toco.
“I have not abandoned you guys as some people have been saying and I am coming up there soon,” he said.
Another award recipient Justice Anthony Lucky had advice for young people too, this time those thinking of a career in law.
“Always aim for excellence and to realise that the law enlightens itself to you,” he said. “Law is a jealous mistress. You have to be dedicated, committed and honest and honesty pays off in the long run. When you are honest, your conscience is clear. If you aim for this and for excellence, you will achieve. As St Benedict said, pray and work.”
Lucky who was awarded the Chaconia Medal (Gold) nine years after retiring from the bench to become a judge at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLS), added, “I thank God for blessing me with graces and divine mercy so that I can serve Him, my family and the community and our country. I pray that he will continue to use me in service to mankind throughout the world. I wish to thank my family wife, Cintra, my daughters both here and abroad as well as my working colleagues in the ITLS in Hamburg Germany.”
Lucky is the father of two: Antonia and Gillian Lucky, the head of the Police Complaints Authority and also a lawyer.
Other recipients of National Awards last night included John Babb, veteran journalist, who urged young reporters out there to be prepared for work.
“Young reporters out there – this is very hard work,” Babb told reporters. “You got to be on time, dig in the trenches and come up with some accurate reporting. You have to work. You have to work. Journalists now want to go onto Facebook and that’s it. That is not enough.” He warned that poor standards in the media will worsen unless journalists are drilled.
“Do not waste time,” he said. To media houses, he said, “take them, the young ones, and drill them from morning until night week after week after week.” He remembered the days when journalists had to spend months just to earn a byline. Babb received the Hummingbird Medal (Gold).
Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society, Dr George Laquis, received the Chaconia Medal (Gold) for service to medicine.
“This award is all for the Cancer Society,” he said. “It was given to me but it is really for the Cancer Society and will help us in the fight against this disease.”
Attorney Lynette Seebaran-Suite, who was awarded one of the Medals for the Development of Women (Gold) said, “I am very proud to get this medal, given in recognition of work done in respect to the development of women over the years and on behalf of the various organisations I belong to.” She said the award was a tribute to the work of organisations such as ASPIRE, Family Planning Association and the Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women.
Fashion designer Peter Elias, wearing Georgio Armani, who was awarded a Humming Bird Medal (Silver) said, “I feel happy and humble, having worked with the Miss TT process for more than 15 years as part of a larger team. I felt I gave it my all and when I look back I realise that we really did well not only in terms of competition results but in terms of putting Caribbean fashion out there and telling the world about our unique style.”