Sprint sensation Ato Boldon signs Ashamaree Squires sling as her classmates from Siparia Senior Comprehensive School look on. The students were at Iere High School to participate in the Guardian in Education Making a Difference project tour on Wednesday.
Photo: Tony Howell
By Leah Mathura-Dookhoo
Sporting medals around their necks and armed with their autograph books and notepads, Iere High School and Siparia Senior Comprehensive School students were on Wednesday told they needed to create history, rather than rewrite it.
The students, who had been preparing for the arrival of sprint sensation Ato Boldon a week in advance, were overcome with joy when he entered the school auditorium and were left in awe during his presentation.
Boldon is part of the Guardian in Education Making a Difference project, which has been taking the former Olympic star, champion cyclist and painter Michael Phillips and 1998 Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam to schools throughout the country.
West Indies record-breaking batsman Brian Lara and Olympic bronze medallist George Bovell III will soon join the other three national celebrities to help motivate students across the country by sharing their life experiences, values and strategies to success.
Explaining that there were avenues to take to be successful in life, Boldon told the student body they needed to seriously research whatever path they wanted to take.
In his career, he said, even major setbacks helped him find a road to success.
When faced with a decision to represent this country or the United States at the Olympics, Boldon told the students, the answer was an easy one.
I thought about it, then I realised that this country needed a medallist.
If I had joined the US team, then I would have been their 400th gold medallist, but I wanted to represent T&T.
Boldon also spoke of setting goals.
Look at things that have never been done before and do them. No one here has ever won an Oscar, so go ahead and try, he said.
People will laugh at you and you may not get the support from your family, but do it anyway.
Describing todays generation as the MTV crowd, Boldon told the 600-plus students that they had to pay their dues in life before smelling sweet success like the participants on MTV Cribs.
That is what they call instant gratification. Young people want everything now and some are not willing to work for it, Boldon said.
You must ask yourself if you are willing to pay the price for success. When you are filled with enthusiasm, the road may be straight at first, but then it becomes twisted and sometimes you give up. Thats the time you need to keep going, regardless of what people say about you.
Admitting he was aware of a few athletes who used performance-enhancing drugs, Boldon said at the top of his career he was scared to death to go that way.
Your reputation is all youve got. If I had taken any kind of drugs, by the time I reached to Trinidad I might have been stoned on the Brian Lara Promenade. I did not want to shame my country.
Boldon, who repeatedly congratulated the students for being well behaved, said the busy town of Siparia meant a lot to him, since it had produced 400 metre Olympic star Ian Morris.
When I was young and winning all my games and on top of the world, Ian Morris was there to guide me, he said.
Even when I lost, he was still there to show me the ins and outs of the track and field world.
Before his arrival, first and second form students of Iere High were told by principal Michael Dowlath that they could not attend the presentation, since they had to make room for visiting students from a neighbouring school.
But, with determination and a bit of persuasion, more chairs were added to the auditorium to accommodate them.
Students were told by their English teachers to submit an essay by the end of the week on Boldons presentation.
Students who submit essays as part of the Trinidad Publishing Cos Guardian in Education project on the motivational talks have a chance to win prizes for themselves and their schools.