Trinidad and Tobago’s first Olympic medallist, Rodney Wilkes, passed away today, Monday at the San Fernando General Hospital at the age of 89. Wilkes won silver in the featherweight class of Weightlifting at the 1948 Olympic Games in London and followed it up with bronze in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.
The Honourable Anil Roberts, Minister of Sport saddened at the passing of the legend said, “I have always admired Rodney Wilkes for believing in himself while pursuing what was not a popular sport in the 1940s, largely training himself, receiving little reward for his efforts but quite humbly beating the best in the world to become this country’s first Olympic medallist.
Wilkes’ historic feats at the Olympic Games as well as his other achievements at international level, are not forgotten by those of us in the sport industry who believe that his efforts are an inspiration to those who dreamed of success in their chosen sport. We are extremely grateful for the time he spent with us and wish to honour his life in a suitable manner. The Ministry stands ready to offer whatever support is required for his final farewell.”
Wilkes was honoured by the Ministry at the inaugural Spirit of Sport Awards (SOSA) in 2011 with a Lifetime Achievement Award which was accompanied by a monthly stipend to cover his living and medical expenses.
The ‘Mighty Midget’ as he was called, also featured prominently in the 2012 documentary film ‘Red White and Black: A Sports Odyssey’ which was commissioned by the Ministry’s implementation arm, the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago. The film chronicled Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic legacy and Wilkes’ voice introduced, with vibrant colour, the more than 60 year journey which culminated in Keshorn Walcott’s gold in London 2012.
The Ministry of Sport and the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago offer their deepest condolences to the family of Rodney Wilkes at this time.
Read more on Rodney Wilkes at the National Sporting Archives.
Image source: Virtual Musem of Trinidad & Tobago