"Overcoming pressure is one of the most important things in sport."
Speaking on the topic "In Pursuit of Excellence" at Wednesday's First Citizens Sports Foundation Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, Reverend Wes Hall examined the link between handling pressure and achieving sporting excellence.
"Pressure is what turns a lump of coal into a diamond, and what's inside of you comes out under pressure."
Cricketers Brian Lara, Bernard Julien, Pascall Roberts and Jack Noreiga, footballers Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy and Victor Gamaldo, all-rounders Taffy Crichlow, Ann Browne-John, Jeanette Giorgetti-Pantin, Aldwin Ferguson and Richard Nieves, and track and field coach Zeno Constance were all inducted into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Of the 13, eight attended the ceremony. Roberts, Noreiga, Ferguson and Constance were inducted posthumously, while Gamaldo is living abroad and was unable to make the trip home.
Hall, a fearsome Barbadian fast bowler who represented West Indies in 48 Tests between 1958 and 1969, paid tribute to the inductees.
"These 13 icons, these golden icons had zero tolerance for mediocrity.
"Excellence is available to all who seek it. Excellence is achieved by hard work, dedication, commitment, through great perseverance, and a winning determination–a winning determination that Sir Frank Worrell spoke so eloquently about, a winning determination that is not an instinct to kill and to conquer, but an instinct for perfection."
Hall made special mention of Julien, who scored two centuries and claimed 50 wickets in 24 Test matches.
"Bernard Julien, the greatest talent that I have ever seen as a coach. I believe that Bernard was second in talent only to Sir Garfield Sobers."
Lara, one of the greatest batsmen in cricket history, was also lauded by Hall. The double world batting record holder received his induction plaque from Anil Roberts, the Minister of Sport bowing as the Prince of Port of Spain approached him.
"It's a very prestigious award," Lara said afterwards, "and something I will definitely cherish.
"To be in the Hall of Fame of anything is something that any sports person is going to feel proud of. And I'm very, very proud today. I'm even more proud for the 12 other inductees. Meeting people for the first time who have done yeoman service for whatever sporting discipline they were involved in was really lovely. I think it was a great evening.
"I enjoyed all 17 years of my international career," Lara continued. "It's very hard to say there's one cherished moment. But, obviously, there are some really high highpoints–getting 400 runs (not out) in a Test match, scoring 501 (not out) in a first class game, all very, very proud moments for me."
A classy affair, the induction ceremony did justice to the achievements of Lara and company. The former West Indies captain said he was particularly pleased to be inducted at the same time as Yorke and Latapy.
"Being up there on the podium with my two best friends, Dwight and Russell, was also very special. So many memories. We could go back 30-something years when we first started together, playing football. We spent a lot of time together in our teenage years, grew up together, and went our separate ways in terms of pursuing our dreams, Dwight at Aston Villa, Russell at Porto and myself continuing with the cricket, so tonight was very, very special," Yorke concurred.
"That's the ultimate. We were just laughing a moment ago on the stage. It's been 30 years. We were reminiscing, 15/20 years ago we were such young men enjoying life and enjoying what lies ahead...here we are, inducted into the Hall of Fame, 40 and 40-plus. It's a great honour that we've been recognised because of our hard work and achievement and what we have done over the years. It's absolutely phenomenal."
Yorke is best known for his goal-scoring exploits for English Premier League giants Manchester United.
Nicknamed "The Smiling Assassin", Yorke played a key role in the famous treble success of 1999, United winning the Premier League, FA Cup and European Champions League titles. Yorke said coach Bertille St Clair had a lot to do with his success.
"Somebody who has been my mentor, a real key factor in my development as an individual. And of course, my dedication as an individual to work hard to achieve things. I have got my reward because of my commitment and sacrifice and working hard. And, of course, the ultimate, the icing on the cake is to captain your country in the World Cup in 2006--the best thing that ever happened to me."
On Wednesday, Yorke became the first Tobagonian to be inducted into the Sports Foundation Hall of Fame.
Latapy, a supremely gifted footballer, plied his trade in Portugal and Scotland.
"The Little Magician" became the first T&T footballer to appear in the European Champions League when he played for Portuguese champions, Porto, against French team Nantes in September 1995.
"It's a good feeling to be appreciated. Definitely, the highlight of my playing career was going to the World Cup. But this (induction) is without doubt one of the highlights of my career as well. It took me a little while to fully grasp everything about it. The thing is I always played football for the love of the game, and just really enjoyed.
I never really thought about too much of everything that comes with it. I suppose now that I've retired, and you're getting old and you cannot play any more, you have to reflect on some of the things, and these are the times when you do."
Hall of Fame inductees
Brian Lara (cricket)
Bernard Julien (cricket)
Pascall Roberts (cricket - posthumous)
Jack Noreiga (cricket - posthumous)
Dwight Yorke (football)
Russell Latapy (football)
Victor Gamaldo (football)
Taffy Crichlow (table tennis, basketball)
Ann Browne-John (cricket, hockey)
Jeanette Giorgetti-Pantin (hockey, cycling, basketball)
Aldwin Ferguson (football, hockey - posthumous)
Richard Nieves (football, hockey)
Zeno Constance (track and field coach - posthumous)