by Andre E. Baptiste
Fatherhood becomes Hasely Crawford. This is a man who has attained the highest honour in track and field athletics on the international stage, a "Gold" medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics in the men's 100 metres final.
Hasely, as he likes to be called, has progressed from the fastest man on earth in 1976, to a philosophical but realist father of two young children who worship him. His son 6 years old Harlan (named after and English seaside town) and 3-year-old daughter Halle (named after Actress Halle Berry) have his full attention at all times and together with his attractive wife Paula (a school teacher) they are determined to ensure their childrens future is secure.
"My family comes first, sometimes I am not interested in talking about track and field, and my aim is to ensure that my family is secure. When I look at Harlan and Halle, I see hope and I see life," a relaxed Crawford told the Trinidad Style Magazine at his Federation Park home.
Fifty years old Crawford admits that he started parenthood at a late stage, but confesses his father Lionel and mother gave him the base to grow into this role.
"Being a parent, a father or a mother is never easy, it is a huge responsibility, and it is something that you only get better with practice, I love my children and my wife, and we are not afraid to show each other affection," says Hasely as Harlan leans on his legs and watches admirably into his father tough but kind eyes. It is only than, that I understand, that I am interrupting a father/son afternoon training session. Even though Harlan is only six, he is now under the watchful eyes of his father, so too Halle not to be forgotten.
"Every afternoon, we go through the regiment of running and Harlan has got it almost perfect, except for maybe his legs, his back lift may be a bit to high. But he is getting there. Of course Halle wants to run, once she sees her brother running, but she will be a good runner as well, I just have a feeling."
It is a feeling that this top Executive (Head of Communities Relations at the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago) will not allow however to diminish his goals of a proper education for his children.
"A parents role is to ensure that you do as much for your children as possible, so that they can have the best life possible, and that they can have a chance to appreciate all that there is in life. I want to give them that opportunity as well."
Hasely was only fifteen years when his father Lionel, a Health Inspector with the Ministry of Agriculture died and he has one regret to this day. "That he did not witness me winning the Gold Medal in Montreal. That still hurts because he was the type of father that if he were alive, you could bet anything, everyone out there would have known that Lionel Crawford was around. He used to walk around very upright and proud."
"In fact, his nickname was "the kid", because everywhere he went, I was there with him, we were very close. It is just like my relationship with my son, till today he sleeps with me, even if we put him in his own bed he comes across by me," noted Crawford.
Hasely also reflected on the relationship between his parents, "My father and my mother never had a fight, he never raised his hands to her and for that I can say, I believe in that same sort of relationship. To me dialogue is important. People can disagree but they must talk it out, it is the only way."
Hasely is at six foot three inches, still quite an intimidating sight, and when he barks at the nine dogs, which patrol his home, there is an errie sense of command, but his wife Paula dismisses a lot of this as show.
"Hasely is tough, but gentle, he sometimes likes to keep to himself and people may mistake that, but my husband really cares for his family," said his wife Paula. Hasely listening with a glint in his eye responds, "Halle is more like her mother, there is no doubt, she is very close to her, but she is warming up to me, and in time Paula will have to watch out," he says with a large smile.
It is a smile that comes easily to this man of the World, this man who has given Trinidad and Tobago visibility, but who has also endured his own personal pain. His elder sister Lynette died from cancer, and he had had to endure the pain of people not understanding that he is a human being.
Hasely related an incident where one day his daughter was pretty sick and he rushed to the pharmacy to buy some medication, when a father with two children stopped him and asked for him to meet and talk with his children. When Hasely explained the situation, that he was in a hurry to reach home to attend to his daughter and he would not have time this day, the man proceeded to abuse him verbally, "Because someone may be considered to be famous, does not mean they are not human, and they do not have a life. We have problems like everyone else, and people should understand that. I love this country, I really do, but my family is the most important thing..........on my job, I am on call every day, but I will do my best to maintain my quality time with my children."
Hasely admits that he almost cried when he hit his son for the only time last year, "That blow, still lives with me, it was not so much the physical lash with a belt, but more what it did to our relationship for a while. Harlan appeared to walk around with this for 3 weeks on his mind, I have told Paula it will not happen again. I now leave it up to her. I just allowed his school work to affect me that day," confessed Hasely.
Harlan attends Newtown Boys in Port of Spain, the Alma matter of sprint sensation Ato Boldon, who has won four Olympic Medals himself (1 silver and 3 bronze).
"I have to give Ato Boldon a lot of credit for what he has done on his own, but I really wished that we had some sort of system in place for there to be continued success." Hasely also remarked, "That thanks to Ato, people now recognize how difficult it is to win a Gold Medal at the Olympics, because he has tried so hard and been so close, it has made my achievement more significant. But inwardly it pains to know that since 1976, we cannot make any serious long term impression in athletics. Both Ato and Daryl Brown did not come through any system, but instead were just very special."
"On the topic of athletes, in my view there are too many drugs in the sports and this has caused me to lose interest in the sport at the higher level, but instead look to the youths."