SAINT Lucia’s five member swim team and three officials returned home Tuesday morning to a hero’s welcome at the George F.L. Charles Airport after their outstanding performances at the UANA Swimming Cup in Lima, Peru.
The team which comprised Antoine Destang, Ethan Hazell, Naima Hazell, Karic Charles and Tristan Dorville along with Coach – Peter James; Manager – Martin Dorville and Saint Lucia Aquatic Federation, President – Eddie Hazell.
Saint Lucia finished a remarkable 5th place overall out of 25 participating countries representing North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. The team won 6 gold, 7 silver and 1 bronze medal, they also achieved a number of Personal Best, Age Group Records and Event Records, while Antoine Destang took home the High Points award in the 11 – 12 boys category.
On arrival the team was met by Saint Lucia Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, Minister for Youth Development and Sports – Edmund Estaphane, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports – Liota Charlemange – Mason and other staff members of the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports, members of the Saint Lucia Aquatic Federation and family members.
In his brief welcome remarks Prime Minister Chastanet said, “I don’t know of anybody that I have ever met who is successful that they didn’t have to work hard, they were not disciplined and they were not focused. I want to congratulate you guys on what you were able to achieve and say to you from the government of Saint Lucia and I can also speak on behalf of the people of Saint Lucia how proud we are on what you were able to achieve and we are looking forward to greater days ahead”.
Chastanet continued, “First of all a family that build a pool and have been able to show that a sports facility can survive and if you make it, it’s a huge achievement; secondly, I have always said because of what you have been doing at the Aquatic Centre, the government has put a new policy in place, an after school programme, so the idea about having sports in schools, they may be physically in schools but will not be operated by the Ministry of Education”.
According to PM Chastanet, “In my Independence Day address, I talked about attitude and one of the things I specifically highlighted was the participation of parents in supporting their kids. This support is about being involved in different clubs. I was quite a basketball player in the mid-80s and early 90s, as a team person we had to do all the work ourselves. We had to raise the money, we had to find the uniforms, find the referee, we had to find the money for the lights and prepare our own schedules. Many times we had to be on the Market Steps to sell T-Shirts, going to the Brewery to be able to get donations to be able to sell”.
Chastanet said, “We never will create successful discipline in any sport in which the kids are going to have to do it themselves, because one of the things you will see is that there is never continuity, there is a group of guys who have a bit more initiative than others, but it does not continue”.
“The other thing we are able to have is dedicated coaches, we have seen that success in other disciplines and I have always remarked that one of the greatest thing in the stories about Usain Bolt who did not start off in track, he was a cricketer. But it was a track coach who saw him and said wow, this kid has talent and that coach pursued him for one year to convince his parents to allow him to join the track team,” he added.
“The increditable story about Usain Bolt, his coach in high school was his coach for his career, the coach had the talent to be able to develop and nurture a world class Legend, that’s the quality of coaching; don’t make any mistake about it, as talented as any anybody is, it’s the involvement of a coach on a consistent basis to be able to nurture and develop and create Legends”, Chastanet said.
Sports Minister Edmund Estaphane congratulated the swimmers on behalf of the government and people of Saint Lucia for their outstanding performance in Lima, Peru.
He said, “From all indications the job is well done, what makes a federation function well is their structure, the Aquatic Federation has a wonderful and great structure. There is also a massive support by the parents who stand behind these athletes; the coaches, managers your support is what that creates these types of results and we are very thankful the federation has the support of all and sundry”.
Estaphane continued, “The Ministry of Youth Development and Sports will always play its role; we are trying our best to string along the other federations on island to be like you, it’s very difficult some people will go down to their graves with their bad habits, but yours is one to emulate and we are very thankful that you are leading the way”.
The Minister said, “There are quite a bit you can do to succeed, you can work hard, you can inherit something, or you can do illegal things to get what you want. In your case, I know you have worked hard and I want to congratulate you. You did tremendously well”.
Team spokesman, Tristan Dorville said, “I am proud to say we have returned with 20 medals in 2020; Coach, David Peterkin his son Jamie Peterkin said the medals would be coming in at the Carifta Games, but it seems to have done it a bit earlier, so it’s time to raise the bar”.
“I am also proud of my fellow swimmers, they all did phenomenally. Karic, Naima, Ethan, Antoine, I know it was very stressful, from Saint Lucia, then through Trinidad and Tobago, Panama and Peru and swim on the same day, that’s incredible, without Karic we won’t have won the medley relay”
We also happened to break a few records, I am happy with myself, I won seven medals. I did not win the high point award, it was a bit disappointing. I was happy for Antoine Destang, he worked hard for it, he earned it, he won fair and square, we just have to keep on striving”.
Swimmer, Tristan Dorville took the time out to thank the following persons – SLAF President – Eddie Hazell, Coach – Peter James and Team Manager – Martin Dorville for their tremendous support throughout their journey while in Lima, Peru.