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Sports Minister, National Athlete Trade Punches As Funding Debate Intensifies

By Neto Baptiste

Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew, has hit back at sprinter Daniel Bailey after the athlete claimed last week, that he had never received funding from the government during his tenure as a national athlete.

Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Matthew, at first, said Bailey received a monthly stipend of EC$4000 as a sport ambassador but later said it was in fact, EC$3000.

“Daniel Bailey was appointed as an ambassador, a sporting ambassador, where for several years he received $4000 [$3000] monthly from the treasury of the government of Antigua and Barbuda to assist with his training, and he was living in Jamaica at the time,” he said.

“He received this amount until he announced his retirement, and you will recall that maybe two years ago, he announced that he is retiring from track and field. Upon his retirement, the government of Antigua and Barbuda offered him a job in the Ministry of Sports as a coach and I believe it was at the same pay. Mr. Bailey indicated that he did not want to be a coach and what he wanted to be was a talent recruiter or someone who would go around and identify talent and that the amount was not enough,” he added. 

Bailey had said also, that the only support he received from the NOC was when he was placed on an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship for one year.

Matthew also sought to clarify issues surrounding lands that had been promised to the athlete after he had finished fourth at the World Championships in 2009 where Bailey said he has not received the full one acre of lands he was promised.

“The Cabinet decision was never for an acre of land, it was for a half acre of land. An area called Ayers Creek out at Willikies was identified by his then-coach, Mr Calvin Greenaway, may his soul rest in peace, and it was .99 of an acre and it was put to Mr. Bailey that he would get an amount of half-acre free of cost, but if you desire, you could pay for the additional .44 which would then bring it up to about the full acre but he said he did not want to pay anything,” the minister said.

“They identified another area for him in Piccadilly which I believe was about .6 of an acre and the same offer was put to him and he said no, and so that portion was cut off. I believe it was last year he got the half acre and the whole issue was finally resolved,” he said. 

Bailey responded swiftly, debunking the minister’s claims that he had been receiving EC$4000 per month but was, instead, getting only $2000. The sprinter said also that according to his understanding, the funds were not intended as part of any assistance given by government towards bills associated with his preparations for any meet.

“I had been getting the ambassador money under the UPP, and I am not even sure how long the ALP was in power before they stopped it. But they took it away from me last year saying that I wasn’t knighted, but don’t go on the radio and say that you have been giving me $4000 per month knowing that it is not true,” the sprinter said.

“When I say the government did not contribute to my career I was talking about my coaching fees, my accommodation, physiotherapist, my travel and all these stuff. I received that ambassador thing after I finished doing all of that already. I went to all these Olympics and then was given the ambassador thing after so how much money That I have spent before that,” he added.

Bailey holds the national record of 9.91 seconds in the 100 meters.  He won bronze in the 60 metres at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships when he clocked 6.57 seconds, becoming Antigua’s first ever medallist in the event.

The sprinter represented Antigua and Barbuda at the 2004 Summer Olympics, the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the 2008 Summer Olympics, the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

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