St. Maarten's Special Olympians

We made history at the 2007 Special Olympics


Lt. Governor Franklyn Richards welcomes home the St. Maarten delegation to the Special Olympics World Games in Shanghai, China, on Saturday. Special Olympics athletes given a heroes’ welcome

Lindomar wins gold at Special Olympics (Oct 2007)

SIMPSON BAY--Linda Richardson and Lindomar Carvon returned home to a heroes’ welcome and motorcade, from the Special Olympics World Games in Shanghai, China, on Saturday.
Travelling with the two athletes were First Lady Angela Richards, coach Les Brown and Loyola Seymonson, who works with the disabled.

Lt. Governor Franklyn Richards and dozens of friends, relatives, Lion’s Club members and proud supporters met the group at Princess Juliana International Airport. Leader of Government Commissioner Sarah Wescot-Williams, who could not greet the team in person due to a previous off-island commitment, sent her congratulations and called the pair the nation’s beacon. “The nation and government extend to these two exceptional people congratulations. You’ve made us proud!” said Wescot- Williams. “These two athletes have been given the opportunity to compete and excel in the events in which they are gifted. Through the competitions that they have experienced in China these past days, they have become empowered as individuals to believe that nothing in this life is impossible. Their greatness lies in who they are as individuals, not in the medals they won during the World Special Olympics Games in China.”

Carvon won a gold medal in shot-put and placed fifth in the 100 metres. Richardson took silver in class in the 100 metres and the long jump. “At the games you demonstrated your strength, dedication and skill. Your athletic abilities are tremendous, and your ability to overcome obstacles a beacon of the St. Maarten nation, that no challenge is unbeatable. It is inspiring to see what each of you has accomplished,” said Wescot-Williams.

The two athletes arrived at Princess Juliana International Airport wearing their St. Maarten warm-up suits and their recently -won medals proudly displayed around their necks. After a brief but cheerful welcome home ceremony and drinks, they were whisked around the island by motorcade and were the guests of honour at a special luncheon hosted by the Executive Council.

SHANGHAI, China -- St. Maarten’s team at Special Olympics is still bringing home the gold, it turned out yesterday.

Lindomar Carvon, the male intellectually challenged athlete, took first place in his class during shotput finals, earning the island a gold medal.
It took some time to sink in that he had won, but when it did, it was a sight to behold: a huge grin suddenly formed on his face and he jammed his right hand to the sky, the index finger protruding upward … he had won. He was “Number One!”

The other members of St. Maarten’s delegation were equally, if not more, elated with the unexpected win. “No one expected it, because we thought he had not placed that high up during the preliminaries,” St. Maarten Special Olympics Foundation President Angela Richards said. It turned out though that Lindomar, whose gait is affected by his impairment, had placed well: “When we thought they were having preliminaries, they were in fact arranging the competing athletes in their appropriate classes, according to their handicaps.
Lindomar belonged in the class of people with a double handicap and he simply was the better athlete there during the finals,” trainer Les Brown explained. In hindsight, Lindomar’s win shouldn’t come as a surprise, because for an athlete with his disability his preparation was impeccable. A true showman, before every performance, he stretches at length before he takes the heavy metal ball. He powders his hands, blows off excess powder, makes a cross and then shoots.
His gold win yesterday was assured after his first of four shots. St. Maarten has now captured four medals during the World Summer Games that wrap up on Thursday: Lindomar’s gold, Linda Richardson’s two silver medals for the 100-metre s print and long jump, and Lindomar’s fifth place medal for the 100-metre sprint (not fourth as previously reported).

The athletes return to St. Maarten on the Air France flight on Saturday and Richards repeated her call for a hero’s welcome. “It would be no more than prudent, even more with this surprise golden medal,” the First Lady said. More than 10,500 athletes from 165 countries are competing in the games that began on Tuesday, October 2, and wrap up this Thursday. With only two athletes competing, St. Maarten’s delegation has one of the smallest teams, first-timers from the Caribbean along with Haiti, Belize and Montserrat.

By Marvin A. Hokstam for the Daily Herald

Richards praises medal winners for conquering St. Maarten hearts

Simpson Bay- After 20 hours of traveling from Shanghai in China, Lindomar Carvon, St. Maarten’s first Special Athlete Gold Medallist, and Linda Richardson who won two Silver Medals, arrived at Princess Juliana International Airport Saturday afternoon to heroes’ welcome with scores of fans bearing congratulatory signs.

Of the 10,000 strong athletes that attended the 2007 Olympics, St. Maarten had two participants. Sports fans agreed for them to return home with one gold and two silver medals was an outstanding sports achievement that merited a red carpet welcome and their names indelibly painted in the annals of sports history on St. Maarten.

Cavron and Richardson, their faces wreathed in smiles, waved to their supporters from the back seat of a convertible that lead a large motorcade from the PJIA to the Sister Basilia Center.
Lt. Governor Franklin Richards and Raul Busby, President of the St. Maarten Sports Federation, were part of the reception committee in the baggage area. Other included First Lady Angela Richards-Huggins and Athletic Coach Les Brown. As Carvon and Richardson exited the doors, gathered family members, friends and well-wishers shouted out their accolades. So energetic was the crowd that for several minutes everyone, including the outgoing passengers, found themselves caught up in the excitement.

Although First Lady Angela Richards-Huggins was tired from the trip she managed to maintain her warm smile and sense of excitement. When posed with the first in a series of questions about the performances of the athletes, she described her feelings about the pair’s performance on the athlete field. “It was quite an achievement for them,” she said. “I think that Richardson, a mother of one, was affected by the atmosphere than Carvon. “She was taking in every thing that was happening around her and on the first day she performed reasonably well which was expected. But the second day when it came down to the finals, she had lost her focus. Her performances in the two races were contrasting and had she kept her focus, she too would have brought home a gold,” said the First Lady.

According to Angela Richards-Huggins, Brown the Coach, was not allowed on the field at the time of the race. They had to ensure that the officials were aware of her hearing/speech disability. “The First Lady continued, “It was obvious she needed a different sign than the gun at the start of the race. It was taken into consideration and for her a flag was used. But when the gun went off and the flag came down, she did not react. At first she looked at it, but with so many things happening around her and for that fraction of a second when she had her head turned. “But she finally started and managed to finish second and that alone tells you she has the potential and the ability and we are so proud of both of them.

“Carvon was the one that surprised us and we were happy for him because we are aware of his disabilities and we also know his capabilities. At breakfast that morning, we were teasing Carvon, telling him that Richardson had already won a medal and it was his turn. “He told us, ‘I am going to be number one.’ He showed us that single finger and had his mind made up that he was going to give it his best.” She continued, “His first throw was 6.4, his second was 6.24 and his winning effort was 6.54. Nobody else had gone that far and as we looked at the board, we were saying, it can’t be true, but we did not want to start rejoicing because we wanted to make sure he was standing in the number one position on the podium. “When we finally began to celebrate, the people around us thought that we were losing it, but we could not stop. It was really something to experience and I know Carvon and Richardson cannot explain how they feel but I know they are overwhelmed, because I was there” she said, smiling.

Linda Richardson, the medal winner’s mom, was also there to welcome her daughter and shared some of her thoughts. “I was always excited for my daughter because I know she will do good in life. Before she left she paid me a visit and said she was going far away and began to cry and I told her not to cry and that if she did not place first, she would have to settle for second,” she said. According to Linda Richardson both herself and her granddaughter Appolonia were happy.

“I am extremely proud of Carvon and Richardson for their outstanding achievements. I am proud to say I was involved with their training. To see that it was their first time at an event of this magnitude, it’s unbelievable.” But, Carvon who has more disabilities than Richardson proved to St. Maarten and the world that nothing was impossible, and became the first Special Athlete from St. Maarten to win a Gold Medal at a Special Olympics.

“We will never forget that,” said Busby. According to Busby, the achievement of the two athletes will serve as a motivating factor for others to follow. They agreed none of this would have been possible had it not been for the input of the persons involved with the preparation of the athletes. One person who stands out is Les Brown whose dedication to the development of youth has finally paid off.

“It was very exciting and was even surprised on their performances because Richardson, who won two medals, one for Long Jump and the second for the 100 meters has two disabilities,” said Brown. “It was extremely challenging to train her along with Carvon who has difficulty walking. For me, I thought this trip would have enabled our athletes to gain more experience, which would have taken them to the next level. But to come away with three medals is a super achievement. “There is nothing higher than Special Olympics – that is the top,” said Brown, shaking his head.

Looking into the future, Brown wants to see more volunteers to help prepare these special athletes. “Because of their disabilities, they cannot be trained in large groups, they do need individual attention and that would only be possible with the input of more assistance and awareness from the public,” Brown said. In his address to the delegation after they arrived at the Sister Basilia Center, Lt. Governor Franklin Richards said, “You have done us proud and I must congratulate my wife, the President of the Special Olympics Committee, Les Brown and Leola. You all went to Shanghai, you saw and you conquered with one gold and two silver medals and that is a great achievement.”

Richards described the event as a historical one and said he was extremely proud to be part of it. He thanked all the persons who supported the athletes. He further made a commitment for the Government to support not only the athletes that went to Shanghai, but also all athletes. “Sports on St. Maarten need that special attention,” he said. “We have the potential and should use it to the fullest. Lindomar and Linda, you have conquered the hearts of the people on St. Maarten and are here to support you.”

Commissioner Roy Marlin greeted the delegation on behalf of the Executive Council, saying, “Congratulations to the special Olympic Committee on St. Maarten for being able to give two individuals within our community an opportunity to compete at the Olympic level. Without you, they would have never reached Shanghai. “I specially want to thank Les Brown and Leola for what they have done because together you have brought changes to the lives of Linda and Lindo.” “In the past when athletes on St. Maarten participated in International events, we had to do it under the auspices of Curacao and from experience we know how difficult that could be.” “This shows we can do things on our own. You did not go to Shanghai under the Netherlands Antilles Specially Olympics Committee – instead it was with the Special Olympics Committee from St. Maarten with support from the business community and individuals.” “That proves that if we can do things from our own free will, we can achieve. The Special Olympics delegation that will be traveling to the 2008 Kingdom Games will have the support of the Government and this time, it will be a bigger delegation. “We have to let them see the dynamics of St. Maarten and what it has to offer.”

Commissioner of Sports, Maria Boncamper-Molanus who was on her way to St. Maarten by plane, missed the reception at the airport but was able to attend the event at the Sister Basilia Center. “When you were in my office before you left, I said you are St. Maarten’s heroes and heroes you are,” she said to the emotion packed audience. “I am so proud of you. I am sorry I was le to meet you at the airport. But I don’t know if there is anybody that understands as much as the relatives of Linda and Lindomar how great this achievement is. The commissioner said, “I have a sister who spent time living at this facility and I know what it is to be proud of somebody who is challenged mentally and physically – it’s just overwhelming. You have to put St. Maarten on the map to the coaches, the caregivers, the trainers, the First Lady and the supporters who made the financial contributions. “Thank you and congratulations.”

By virtue of winning the medals, Carvon and Richardson have joined the rank of athletes that have brought fame for themselves and glory for St. Maarten. Other winners include Jerry Morris, Marco London, Steve ‘The Warrior’ Philips, Morailey de Windt and Shawn Blair.
Taken from TODAY, Monday October 15, 2007