LEGENDARY West Indies cricketer Brian Lara said performances of athletes in the world of sport last weekend is a clear indication that when you have a dream and determination to achieve that dream you can be a champion in life.

Speaking at the opening of the 17th edition of the Atlantic Secondary Schools Leadership Symposium hosted by The Sports Desk, Lara said the character and team spirit shown by athletes at Wimbledon, the European Football Championships and at the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) can be admired.

Lara said that tennis player Andy Murray showed that one must not be afraid to fail and commended Portugal for their team spirit to win the European Championships after their star player Cristiano Ronaldo was unable to finish the match due to injury. He also praised the Trinbago Knight Riders for their determination in the CPL.

In his address to Fifth and Sixth Form students at Dr Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence in Macoya yesterday, Lara said, “these are powerful stories that have led to champion performances from some of the best at their sport, but also from others that stood as underdogs when the bell rang and their journey started. So champion is not just a song or a dance by Dwayne Bravo it means someone that is clearly superior or has the attributes to be a winner. You can be a champion of anything you put your mind too, backed by unwavering commitment, sterling discipline, necessary sacrifices and most importantly a dream and a belief that you could achieve that dream.” Lara said that giving youngsters the foundation to express themselves is important to him. “I was passing through the (Hasely Crawford) Stadium just driving one afternoon and I saw some kids boxing. I went across and just inquired about what was happening.

In the group of young boxers there were a couple guys that had security guards and I asked why.

They came from a youth centre where because of something they did negative in the past they had security to bring them to the stadium and take them back home.” Lara said the youngsters wanted to make a difference in their lives so he opened his home to boxing earlier this year. “For the month of January and in May I had boxing at my residence, giving these youngsters the opportunity to perform in front a different environment.

We actually have one (boxer) that is going to the Olympics after only boxing for 14 months and that is Nigel Paul.” Among the other speakers at the symposium yesterday were The Sports Desk chairman Valentino Singh, former Miss Trinidad and Tobago World representative Sarah-Jane Waddell, motivational speaker Don La Foucade, TT Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis and the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith.

Minister Smith committed his support to the event, saying, “I also want to ease him (Singh) up for the next few years because I told him when me met earlier in the year to discuss this event that the Ministry of Sport will committ for the next three years to be a sponsor of the event.” Today the Leadership Symposium continues with former national boxer Ria Ramnarine, women’s rugby player Ornella George, national gymnast Thema Williams and national shot put athlete Cleopatra Borel all expected to speak. The Symposium will conclude tomorrow with former Soca Warriors goalkeeper Shaka Hislop highlighting the final day.