T&T sporting fraternity has been thrown into mourning with the passing of long-standing sports administrator and pioneer Alexander Bernard Chapman.
The honorary life member of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC), who was considered a patriot, was also an honorary vice-president of the Central American and Caribbean Sports Organization (CACSO) and a lifetime vice-president of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
Speaking to the Guardian Media Sports on Tuesday, Attorney at Law, former president of Malvern Sports Club and former secretary general of the TTOC, Elton Prescott shared his thoughts on the late administrator.
Prescott said, “I came to know and to refer to him as “Alex” notwithstanding the decades by which he was senior to me in age. I had sought election to the position of assistant secretary of the TTOC. He was the secretary general at the time and he would go on to serve in that position for another eight years, after which he became president and I took over as the general secretary.
“Alex knew enough about the T&T sojourn in Olympic history and about the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and affiliated bodies, that he could hold his own in any symposium on that or related topics. His memory was phenomenal, in that, he remembered dates, names, locations unfailingly. He repeatedly said to me,” I am seldom wrong”; yet he did not claim infallibility.
Prescott went on to describe a diligent man, who kept a very strict routine when “on duty” and pursued the interests of T&T with the clearest discipline.
“In the days when he did double duties as secretary and as chef de mission for teams at international Games, the work demanded his availability at all times of day and night; a knowledge of who really matters when things need to get done and a fatherly disposition and sound advice when needed. Ask Hasely Crawford about Alex’s advice in 1976, before that gold medal run.
“Many would recall that in the 70s and 80s, Alex was the “Bingo Man” of the TTOA [as it was then known]. He appeared nightly on TTT and called the numbers in the fund-raising Bingo, run by the association.
“He was well -known and instantly recognisable in public, as he wore Guyaberas for his TV appearances.
“A visit to the home of Mags (Margarita) [his now deceased wife] and Alex, opened one’s eyes to the very expansive travelogue which he created and lived. That experience earned him the name “the Bird”; always flying somewhere on Olympic business. He met and was photographed with world leaders as well as outstanding sports administrators. Yet, he never lost the ‘common touch’,” said Prescott, adding that Chapman enjoyed a celebration.
“His January 21st birthdays were not to be missed. Many will tell you that the sporting history of this country will feature that name on many pages. He imparted knowledge and experiences; he nurtured those who came in to his path as budding administrators and he made and retained great friendships.
“In the Caribbean, Alex was received and regarded with great respect among all the sporting leaders, primarily for the breadth of his knowledge and his valuable insights and, above all, for his calm reassurances when the situation demanded it.
“This may be a good time to remind others that he served for countless years on the board of the WITCO Sports Foundation and that of its successor First Citizens Sports Foundation. Additionally, when the TTOC commenced to grant sporting awards, 25 or more years ago, the top award was named after Alexander B Chapman for ‘outstanding contribution to Sport and Olympism, particularly in the promotion of Olympic ideals’.
“It was an exceeding pleasure and learning experience for me to have travelled and worked and relaxed with Alex. My wish is that he finds rest in this new phase of his journey.”
The Alexander B Chapman award was introduced at the First Citizens Sports Foundation Awards in 2017 and Anthony “Dada” Wickham was the inaugural recipient of the honour. Sports journalist David Lamy (deceased) was the recipient last year.
On Saturday, Chapman, who was president of TTOC for eight years, passed away and leaves to mourn his daughter Alison Chapman. May his soul rest in peace.
The Alexander B. Chapman Award:
This award is for outstanding contribution to sport and Olympism, particularly in the promotion of Olympic ideals.
It recognises achievements or contributions in any Sport by a person or by individuals acting jointly or an organisation, group or team, which epitomize all or any of the following Fundamental Principles of Olympism as found in the Olympic Charter.
Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sports with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
The goal of Olympism is to place everywhere sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to encouraging the establishment of a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity. To this effect, the Olympic Movement engages, alone or in cooperation with other organizations and within the limits of its means, in actions to promote peace.
The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport in accordance with his or her needs.
It is not limited to the year under review and may be awarded in recognition of a long period or a lifetime of service to sport, characterised by the Fundamental Principles.
It may be awarded posthumously.
Because the award recognises long service or a lifetime of service, it should not be granted, except in a very rare or exceptional case, to a nominee who had been awarded in the past in this category.
A fitting tribute to a patriot, Alexander B Chapman.