Acting Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, presenting??Ryan Brathwaite with books with congratulatory messages from the public during the homecoming celebration.

Acting Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, has pledged Government’s support in assisting aspiring and current athletes in their development at the local, regional and international levels.

She made these remarks yesterday at the homecoming celebration for 21 year old gold medal hurdler, Ryan Brathwaite, at Kensington Oval. The ceremony followed a hero’s reception at the Grantley Adams International Airport and a motorcade along the island’s south coast.

While acknowledging that Mr. Brathwaite had achieved "in one month, more than any government could hope to gain by millions of dollars of promotional investment in five years", Sen. Sandiford-Garner stated that athletes like Ryan Brathwaite "represent the future of this small, but proud nation and we will not stint in providing them with the wherewithal to compete at the highest level with other athletes. This is our solemn commitment."

She noted that a number of projects had been conceptualised to build on the athlete’s success, including the Ryan Brathwaite Benevolent Fund, which will be established to assist him, as well as other athletes.

Also speaking at the gala, President of the Amateur Athletic Association, Esther Maynard, thanked Ryan Brathwaite for inspiring others by his performance. "In just 13.14 seconds your actions united a nation and gave each and every citizen hope, at a time when all Barbadians were seeking newer assurances from our sportsmen and women that we can rise to the top of our game… We in the AAA truly believe that there are many other Ryan Brathwaites out there, just waiting to be discovered and we will stop at nothing in our quest to deliver more gold medals in world championships and at Olympic competitions…

"Space and size do not preclude us from rising to the top of the world.?? In this case, track and field has simply been the means by which one Barbadian has risen to the top, but it proves that so many others can do the same," Mrs. Maynard said.??

An appreciative Ryan Brathwaite remarked: "To win in Berlin was a great feeling… To be the first world champion from Barbados is a dream come true and this makes me very proud, proud to win but even more proud to be a Bajan."??

Ryan’s gifts included $5,000 from the Insurance Corporation of Barbados; 12,000 square feet of land in Farmers, St Thomas; a cash donation from Barbados Shipping and Trading; shares in Williams Industries; and a fully-loaded 2010 Nissan Ex-Trail from Courtesy Garage with three years comprehensive insurance from Co-Operators General Insurance Company Limited.

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