“Live your dream, work hard, study hard and be disciplined” was the recipe for success as told by T&T’s first Olympic gold medalist Hasely Crawford, whose name was immortalized by the City of San Fernando yesterday.
Together with fellow Olympian, the late Rodney Wilkes, plaques commemorating their momentous achievements were installed on the bandstand along Harris Promenade, opposite the San Fernando City Hall.
Crawford won gold in the 100 metres sprint event at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Canada. Wilkes, who died in 2014 at age 89, won T&T’s first-ever Olympic medal, a silver in weight lifting at the 1948 Olympics in London, England.
Crawford, who has a stadium named after him, said it was the first time he was being honoured in his hometown. Despite all the recognition he gained over the years, he said being honoured at the place where he ran as a child felt special.
“One of the reasons I accepted this honour is because I really want young people to know what it takes to win an Olympic gold medal. Recently there was a book on me whereby the young children of this country will know about Hasely Crawford’s achievements,” he said.
San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello said the men are the first of several hometown heroes whose feats will don the bandstand. Explaining the reason for the initiative, Regrello said that from a historical perspective, these achievements and heroes need to be put there as a reminder for generations to come.
“We have a short memory and young people are not familiar with our history. I think it is important for them to know the history of Hasely’s achievements, what he has done for this country and San Fernando by extension,” Regrello said.
He said that when the bandstand was rebuilt, space was designated on the hexagon to feature the names and achievements of locals. He said there were none more fitting than Crawford and Wilkes to begin the initiative.
In 2018, Bertrand Street, where Wilkes lived, was renamed in his honour. Representing his family, his step-son Patrick Laurence said his family was appreciative of the move.
Although Wilkes died in poverty, after battling prostate cancer, Laurence revealed that he knew that long after his death, he would be remembered and his name called.
A committee has been set up to review and make recommendations to determine who else will be memorialized on the bandstand.