Recognized by the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) as a pioneer of sports, especially in the region, Turks and Caicos Islands’ daughter of the soil Rita Gardiner was presented with a prestigious award by that body on November 5 at its 20th General Assembly in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Gardiner, a founding member of this organization, was among six persons – three men and three women – across the region to have gotten that award.
Gardiner told NewslineTCI that she considered herself privileged to have been placed in an elite group of persons to receive the award.
“I am extremely honored and indeed grateful to the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Association (CANOC) to be the Recipient of such a historic and prestigious Award,” Gardiner said, noting that she was happy that she has been recognized for her almost quarter century of work with CANOC.
“To me it speaks to the faithful and committed work that I have done over all these 23 years with CANOC as this was when it started in 1998 in Melbourne Australia, then on to KL, Malaysia coming full circle in 1999 in Barbados.
“It was a great sacrifice at the time, but it was for the advancement of Athletics in the Region and Turks and Caicos became a member of CANOC, although I was fighting for TCI becoming a member of the International Olympic Committees, it was too late as the Olympic Charter had already cut off dependent countries.
“I'm grateful for TCI becoming an affiliate member of this noble Federation that is becoming a Beacon for Athletes of the Caribbean Region.”
Gardiner told NewslineTCI that her entire life has been one of volunteerism since 1975 after leaving High School, referring to her work as a Labor of Love and Sacrifice.
“Now I'm reaping the seeds that I have sown. I give God thanks for allowing me to carry out the work that I am passionate about. Sports is my passion and my purpose. I'm proud to say I have blazed the trail for many who came behind me not only in TCI but abroad.
“Therefore, I accept that award for the persons who allowed me to work in their space, the Federation, for Women in Sports and for the Turks and Caicos Islands,” Gardiner concluded.
Gardiner received numerous congrats for her latest accolade, including from President of the TCI Commonwealth Games Association Godfrey Been.
“On behalf of the TCI Commonwealth Games Association, I want to Congratulate Mrs. Rita Gardiner on receiving this award from CANOC, acknowledging her pioneering contribution and leadership to the realization of the Caribbean Sports movement,” Been said.
“We are extremely proud of the recognition and what it means and speaks of the service that Mrs Gardiner has and still continues to contribute to sports locally, and regionally. Again congratulations Mrs. Gardiner and thanks you for your work in sports,” Been added.
In the meantime, CANOC stated that the two-day Assembly of the Caribbean umbrella organisation for the Caribbean Olympic and Commonwealth Sports Movement presented a comprehensive agenda with a number of significant decisions to be made including elections of officers for the 2022 to 2026 quadrennial.