Great for Grant - Paralympian overjoyed at getting Keys to the City

Published: Sunday | December 15, 2013 Comments 0
Sylvia Grant (second right) accepts the Keys to the City from Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke while Alvin Francis (left), councillor for the Gordon Town division, Venesha Phillips, councillor for the Papine division, and Billy Heaven (right), CEO, CHASE Fund, look on. - Contributed
Sylvia Grant (second right) accepts the Keys to the City from Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke while Alvin Francis (left), councillor for the Gordon Town division, Venesha Phillips, councillor for the Papine division, and Billy Heaven (right), CEO, CHASE Fund, look on. - Contributed

Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer

Her achievements on the international stage give the lie to her slight structure and her physical disability.  Abandoned by her parents at the Port Antonio Hospital at birth after they discovered that she was born with a physical disability, Sylvia Grant has emerged as one of Jamaica's most decorated athletes.

Despite being unable to walk, Grant has accomplished feats that many can only dream of.

Now 50 years old, Grant is the most decorated Jamaican female Paralympian and has amassed more than 50 medals and trophies through taking part in the discus and javelin throw for almost 25 years.

This has not gone unnoticed and last Tuesday she was brimming with pride after receiving the Keys to the City of Kingston from Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke.

"It feels very good to have received the Keys to the City because not everybody gets it. When I heard that I was to receive it I said wow, this country really checks for the disabled," Grant told The Sunday Gleaner.

"I never grew up with any parents. I spent most of my early years in an institution with a lot of disabled children. Trust me, it was rough and I have been through a lot of challenges," she said.

"At the age of 16, my mother came for me and I went to live with her in Portland. From the moment she saw me she could not stop beating me and I couldn't understand why.

"I could not take it anymore and left to live with my father. He wasn't any better, though, as he also abused me. After that, I left for Kingston and never went back," added Grant.

Since then, she has found joy through what has become her passion - athletics.

"Right now, I am 50 years old and I don't feel like to ever stop competing in the Paralympics. I will continue until I am no longer able to qualify!" declared Grant with the usual steely determination that she has displayed since hitting the public stage in 1988 with a sliver in the discus and a silver in the javelin at the Paralympics in South Korea.

Grant followed that with gold in the discus and gold in the javelin at the Pan American Games in Venezuela in 1989, setting the stage for a long and illustrious international career.

"I would like to tell the determined community of Jamaica to stay focused, you can achieve anything you want but you have to work for it, you have to be determined," she continued.

For Brown Burke, this was a moment to treasure. "These are moments of which we are proud that we are able to make the kind of gesture that we have tonight," declared the mayor.

"Theses are also moments that make us sad; sad that as a country and as a people we haven't done enough in the kind of public domain to honour and to thank Sylvia for what she has done and for the ambassador that she has been for sports and Jamaica," added Brown Burke, as she declared that she was "almost an Olympian".

"Except I was playing hockey one day and got a little cut over my eye, and that was the end of my career," Brown Burke chuckled.

"I know that it is no easy task to train and have the discipline and tenacity to accomplish all that, especially with all other things happening in life.

"Continue to do us proud as a woman, and we hope this is the beginning of another round of Jamaicans to come out and say thanks."

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