Trinidad declares public holiday to celebrate Olympians

Port of Spain: Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) went into celebration mode after Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar declared a public holiday Monday in recognition of the country`s achievement at the London Olympics.

T&T, a nation of over just over a million people, finished with a record four medals - one gold and three bronze - a performance headed by 19-year-old Keshorn Walcott, who pulled off a stunning upset by winning the men`s javelin throw Saturday.

Persad Bissessar said the athletes had placed the oil-rich twin island republic firmly on the world map.

"The people of Trinidad and Tobago salute you and we thank you for once again showing the world that small though we are, far away though we are a people of passion and we can not only hold our own among the best, but also stand among the best," she said in a nationwide radio and television broadcast Sunday night.

The Prime Minister said Walcott`s achievement in becoming the youngest javelin thrower in Olympic history to win gold brought unity to the entire nation.

"Yesterday many of our nations hugged and cried as he stood on the platform and our national anthem played. I was told that some citizens stood before whatever television sets they could find at the time tears streaming down their mud caked faces as they cried with pride and in celebration of themselves. Trinidad and Tobago had secured Gold in our Golden Jubilee Year."

Walcott was joined by the men`s sprint relay team, distance relay team and Lalonde Gordon in the 400 metres, all of whom won bronze medals. Persad Bissessar said the nation also celebrated when the men`s relay team was given the bronze medal after Canada had been disqualified.

"I have received so many calls from so many quarters asking in what way we shall commemorate this occasion to express the immense joy in the hearts and minds of every citizen of our great nation over the excellent performance of our Olympic athletes in London."

The Prime Minister said that the country`s national anthem and flag have become synonymous with determination with excellence, with humility and performance, with patriotism and national pride.


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