Tobago’s double Para Athletics World Championships medal winner Akeem Stewart is again expressing frustration at the lack of facilities here on the island.
In fact, with a focus on qualification for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, Stewart, who won gold medals and achieved world records in the shot-put and javelin events at the World Championships in London a few months ago, believes his efforts are being stymied.
“There are no facilities on the island for me to do proper weight training, and it appears no one is interested in getting them repaired. It’s really tough because I need this sort of lifting equipment to train, but it is not available. I’ve spoken with the Tobago House of Assembly about the Dwight Yorke Stadium, but nothing is happening, even the Shaw Park facility is in a state of disrepair,” Stewart said during a radio interview on I95.5FM’s ISports last Saturday.
He added: “My dad is from the Defence Force, so I have used his strength to make me stronger. I am not doing this for me I’m doing it for my country, Trinidad and Tobago and then when I look at everything, I just have to shake my head. Thankfully, companies like BPTT and Southern Sales have come forward to assist me.”
Asked about support from the Ministry of Sports’ elite funding programme, Stewart chuckled politely as he said: “I am still waiting on that. I have spoken to the Minister of Sports and he has been promising that something will happen, but meanwhile I am making it work as best as I can. It’s not about me alone, what about Nyoshia Cain, she has won bronze and nothing has come her way. This is wrong and she needs to be given the proper recognition.”
He admitted that despite his achievements, he felt differently-abled athletes were not getting proper treatment.
“When I returned to Tobago, after the World Championships, I felt like a second class citizen, really, that’s how I felt. I know the people of Tobago are supporting me. But the Tobago House of Assembly, I cannot say anything on that.”
On the issue of his getting the Humming Bird Medal (Gold) award as against the Chaconia Medal (Gold) bestowed on the 4x400 men’s World Championships winning team on Republic Day, Stewart said: “I am glad for any award my country has given me and I will most likely collect this award in December, as for the relay team I am happy for them, the persons who would have made the decision, they would have used a particular assessment, it does not bother me. I am happy with the Humming Bird, but again what about Nyoshia and any others. That’s my concern now.”