Tributes continue to pour in following the death of former Prime Minister Patrick Manning yesterday. Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Daryl Smith, Ephraim Serrette, president of the National Association of Athletic Administration (NAAAs) and World batting champion Brian Lara extended condolences to his family.

Smith, during a reflection of Manning’s legacy, highlighted his contribution to sport development in the past, noting that the sport sector benefitted directly from Mr Manning’s vision by the professionalisation of sport and his belief in rewarding athletes for what he considered to be their dedicated service to country.

This, minister Smith, who himself is an avid sports supporter, said was a mirror of Manning’s own long and meritorious service to his constituency, his political party and ultimately to T&T.

According to Smith “It was under his leadership as Prime Minister that the annual subvention budget for National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport was established and the Elite Athlete Assistance Programme (EAAP) began, filling the gap of essential training and preparation resources for internationally-ranked athletes.”

He added “These are two initiatives that have yielded tremendous benefits to hundreds of national athletes, coaches and sport administrators for well over a decade. It was under Patrick Manning’s administration that also saw the establishment of undergraduate and later, postgraduate degree programmes in Sport at the University of T&T (UTT) as well as the award of athletic scholarships at the tertiary institution.”

Meanwhile Serrette said it is always sad to lose people of that stature. “On behalf of the NAAAs, I extend deepest condolences to his family on his passing.” But like Smith, Serrette hailed him as a man of vision, pointing out that his Vision 20/20 programme would have been of tremendous benefit to the development of the T&T.

“His 20/20 vision was a really good attempt at developing the country but they politicised it. It is a shame that we couldn’t follow Jamaica on decisions like this one” Serrette said.

Meanwhile Lara said “we have lost one of the most influential and courageous human beings that we have been fortunate enough to have shared the earth with. I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr Manning.”

According to Lara “Mr Manning’s political legacy, his selfless commitment and wonderful vision for our country is immortalised in our memories and our country. I salute Mr Manning and pay profound respect to him for the dignity, grace and quality of his service to our country and to its citizens.”

“I fondly recall a visit with him in 2004, when he laughingly remarked that it couldn’t be mere coincidence that he was Prime Minister both times I broke the records. He was an avid follower and supporter of my cricket career and for this I will remain eternally grateful. A great light may have been extinguished today, but his memory and legacy will live on” Lara said..