FORMER national goalkeeper Shaka Hislop came out in defence of the Trinidad and Tobago athletes at the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee Annual Gala Awards on Thursday, saying that individuals should look at themselves before criticising the nation’s athletes.

Delivering the feature address at the ceremony held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Hislop openly stated his displeasure with the use of social media to chastise athletes. 

The TT Olympians experienced such an ordeal following the 2016 Rio Olympics as members of the local public were disappointed with the performances of the TT Olympians and made their feelings known on social media. 

Hislop stated, “I don’t know how post (Olympic) Games people are as critical of our athletes as they have been. On August 23, two days after the Games I was going through Twitter. Don’t get me started on social media, I am not a fan. I think it has become too easy for us to criticise. 

“I was going through Twitter and following the criticism, and I tweeted this, ‘Let the level of your criticism be reflective of your contribution.’” Keshorn Walcott won TT’s only medal at the Rio Olympics when he grabbed bronze in the men’s javelin. 

The TTOC celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2016 and Hislop believes the 2016 TT Olympic team is a clear indication of how far the country has come. 

“Through the years I think we have made huge strides and you only have to look at the Olympic team that we sent to Rio this year to understand that; record numbers, a number of debut sports and the number of women that we had representing the twin island state are testament to how far we have come over the 70 years.” The former goalkeeper, who represented TT at the 2006 World Cup, thanked the national athletes for their contributions throughout the year. “To those athletes who so proudly represented our twin island nation, your victories rewarded and unrewarded, recognised and unrecognised, those personal, those shared, thank you. Thank you for showing the world our dignity neatly wrapped in red, black and white.” Hislop added that the performance of the nation’s athletes will help the TTOC’s goal of winning 10 or more Olympic gold medals by the 2024 Games. “To those athletes who felt the sting of disappointment but cheered on anyway, to those who were training partners, competitors or friends, thank you. 

Thank you for giving us all what we can be most proud of, thank you for giving our future 10 gold medallists the example and foundation of their success. 

Thank you for giving us you, all of you, the best version of you.”