Sports, Top Story

Julien “Juju” Alfred Hailed a Legend Amid Hearty Welcome

By Reginald Andrew

JUBILANT supporters extended a hearty welcome to Saint Lucian sensation and ace-sprinter Julien “Juju” Alfred on her return home, last Friday, after capturing a gold medal at the recent World Indoor Championships.

Alfred’s momentous achievement as the island’s first Global Medal winning champion was also celebrated across the diaspora.
On home soil, it was a scene to behold on the compounds of the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort, as Julien came out of the airport lounge to greet the many fans that lined up outside the facility.

Earlier, a host of government officials, representatives of sporting associations and media representatives and other guests met with Alfred at the HIA’s VIP lounge for brief acknowledgments and greetings.

Sports Minister Kenson Casimir cited the significance of Alfred’s accomplishment and its impact, particularly on young persons aspiring for greater heights in life.

“She has been a transformative figure for both male and female (athletes) in this nation,” declared Casimir, at a media briefing on Monday.

“And…having her on display like this will only motivate young people to see when you accomplish something for your country, how much they would appreciate you,” he told reporters.

He said it was amazing to witness the overflow of cultural presentations involving dancers and drummers that performed in Alfred’s honour.

After leaving the HIA compound, a well-orchestrated motorcade route took Alfred to several communities along the way. She was warmly greeted and serenaded by residents and fans, young and older folks, amid a crescendo of cheers, hugs and photo opportunities.

sports minister also recalled that Julien was rather emotional when she got to Ciceron, her home turf.

Casimir said the government supports the overall welfare and development of young people “and we believe when young people achieve good things we have to acknowledge it.”

The Gros Islet MP adds that while so many “negative things” are being said about the behaviour of young people in the communities, “we have one young person doing so well so its only incumbent upon us to ensure that the whole world knows that Saint Lucia fully appreciates the efforts of Julien Alfred …and we as a government will ensure we continue to do that as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, Alfred was afforded a ‘Hero’s Welcome’ befitting her superlative feat upon disembarking at the HIA’s VIP lounge.

President of the Saint Lucia Athletics Association (SLAA) Brendalyn Descartes said it was heartening to welcome Julien home after her world winning feat.
On behalf of the wider Saint Lucian athletic fraternity, Descartes acknowledged Alfred’s efforts for representing the country very well at the highest level “and for carrying the Saint Lucian umbrella with you as a Brand Ambassador and showing the world what Saint Lucia has to offer.”

Saint Lucia’s indigenous 1st National Bank has played a pivotal role in nurturing Alfred’s career into her teenage years and more, and were proud to boast the dynamic 22-year-old athlete’s latest feat.

Addressing the gathering, Tishina Jeffers, Marketing and Communications Manager at 1st National Bank, remarked that the entity was aware of “the flight that Julien was about to take …and we decided to snatch you up, even before the world saw that.”

Sports Minister Kenson Casimir recognized the input of 1st National Bank in supporting Julien on her journey, and also for its support towards sports development in Saint Lucia.

In welcoming Alfred, with “heartfelt congratulations”, he stood in awe of “her stellar work and the absolute pride with which you have represented Saint Lucia …and thank you for being an ambassador for sports in Saint Lucia. You are truly our number one ambassador and you carried (yourself) very, very well.”

He added, “This young lady from the community of Ciceron was able to achieve what no other athlete has been able to achieve in our history. We know we have a couple of athletes on the fringes … so let’s support track and field. Let’s support youth development, let’s support sports and let’s all appreciate the Legend that is Julien Alfred.”

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