I want to thank Antigua and Barbuda’s government for the financial support it provided for me to pursue a college education in the United States. I would not be where I am today without my country’s contribution. However, I must resolve the apparent confusion surrounding my current standing as a professional in Athletics and my recent decision to initiate a GoFundMe campaign to finance my preparations for qualifying for the upcoming 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
On Monday, February 8, 2021, on the floor of Parliament, the Minister of Sports, Culture, National Festivals, and the Arts, the Honorable Daryll Matthew, made dangerous accusations that could negatively impact my ability to acquire donors for my athletic training. Based on the Minister’s statements, it is evident that Hon. Matthew neither opened nor read the link of my GoFundMe campaign.
The campaign, which commenced on February 1, 2021, in no way, shape, or form suggests that I have already qualified for the 2021 Olympic Games. The description of my GoFundMe clearly states that “I intend… [t]o qualify for the 100 and 200-meter events at the Tokyo Olympics,” and the funds received would “…cover my training and travel expenses for the upcoming season” (emphasis added). Hon. Matthew also incorrectly stated that no qualifying events are going on anywhere in the world. In Australia and other countries in the Eastern hemisphere, athletes are competing at track meets and hitting the qualifying standards.
On January 22, 2021, I participated in a meet in which distance athletes had the opportunity to qualify. It is also possible for athletes in the 200-meter dash and up to qualify during the current indoor season, which runs from January to March. Several qualifying track meets have already been scheduled for the upcoming outdoor season in March. Also, other athletes on the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship have set up GoFundMe campaigns over the last year. Yet, their motivations for doing so have not been questioned.
So, why a GoFundMe? As my campaign description states, I am seeking additional funding to assist with my training and travel expenses for the upcoming outdoor season. As we approach the middle of February, with the indoor season still in full swing, the outdoor season will quickly be upon us as countries in the Western Hemisphere enter spring. While some dates have been posted for outdoor meets, many more will be announced unexpectedly.
I’ve learned this over the past four years as a professional athlete. Instead of waiting until meets are confirmed to start acquiring the funds necessary to attend them, I am financially planning for those upcoming meets. This is why I am currently training in Florida while my family is in New York City, so that I could be near the action when the outdoor season begins.
Since 2017 I have been supporting myself, like many other athletes, by juggling various jobs and my training. Although I have been in contact with the Antiguan National Olympic Committee (“NOC”) about funding, training is expensive, and I cannot depend solely on those resources to cover my expenses. Body maintenance and treatment can set me back about USD 2000 per month.
Vitamins and other nutritional supplements are around USD 400 per month, with many more expenses left to be covered. In addition, while I am grateful for the financial assistance I received in 2016, I have not received any additional Olympic funding since. My previous request for assistance from 2018 was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, I have complied with all requests from the NOC for documentation and submitted all the necessary forms. I am currently awaiting the NOC’s final decision to grant my request.
Those who follow my blog, “The Dreamers Disease,” will learn about my tumultuous career filled with injuries and disappointments. It has been a long and tiring road for me, but I have fought to pursue my dreams. Unlike what Hon. Matthew insinuated in Parliament on February 8, 2021. I do not believe that the Antiguan government is responsible for me as an athlete. I could not control the chatter that occurred following the launch of my GoFundMe campaign, but I am not entitled to the taxpayer’s money.
The Antiguan government did not ask me to pursue a professional career in Athletics. This venture is personal. I am doing this to celebrate my successes as a son of Antigua and Barbuda. This is a journey to prove to myself that I am a world-class athlete despite my failures and misfortunes. This is an endeavor to make my family proud. Finally, I take on this mantle to set an example for my son as he grows in this unpredictable world so that he may directly relate to a story of determination and willpower.
In closing, I am deeply saddened that my decision to initiate a GoFundMe campaign to supplement my athletic training expenses was greeted with such disdain. It is unfortunate that the first course of action by an Antiguan government official was to ridicule my campaign’s launch instead of personally and privately reaching out to me, inquiring in what other ways I could be assisted, or, even simply, lending a helping hand.
Nevertheless, I am very thankful to those who have donated to my cause and assisted with my training thus far. I know these are challenging times for everyone, so your donations are very much appreciated; I am doing my utmost to repay your faith and generosity with success. I would also like to thank my family and friends for their continued love and support. I will continue to strive to make you proud.
Be safe and Goodbye for now,