Help is on the way: Gonsalves commits to assisting Vincentian standout Maloney ahead of Paris Games

By Sports Desk February 20, 2024
Shafiqua Maloney Shafiqua Maloney

The St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) government declared its commitment to supporting athlete Shafiqua Maloney as she prepares for the upcoming Paris Olympics in August.

Maloney garnered significant attention during her recent appearance on the SportsMax Zone, where she revealed that she experienced homelessness for several months in the past year and has been unable to compensate her coaches for an extended period of time. She also shared that her departure from the United States would result in her being barred from reentry until her application for an O-1 visa is approved. This visa application carries a price tag of $8,500.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on Friday stated that despite Maloney’s qualification, her journey to the Paris Olympics will be challenging. He also expressed his government’s dedication to providing assistance.

"I spoke to Shafiq to congratulate her and more importantly, for her own perseverance, and to commit to her the support of the Government of St Vincent for the Olympics in the first place, which is in August in Paris. She told me many things, which is not my place to talk about. I am not going through the many emails she sent to specific people because I do not want any controversy to surround this talented young lady," the Gonsalves shared.

"All I want now is that, going forward, between now and the Olympics, we help to take care of this young lady and see that she gets what is reasonably required. She told me a number that I wouldn’t reveal. Between now and August, I told her to send me details, and in relation to the visa, which I know about, she said some people were trying, but you know, the US visa authorities are problematic. I told her to send me all that has happened to see if, at a particular level, we get it sorted out," he added.

The prime minister also revealed that there could be possible sponsorship for Maloney through East Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC) which has not been confirmed.  

"Camilo told me last evening that ECGC wants to be engaged, possibly in a sponsorship with Shafiqua. So, I called Jomo Cato and asked him to send me what they had in mind. I asked him what number they had, and I told him the number Shafiqua had told me. She said, Prime Minister, this is the Olympics. I want to be at the Olympics. But we are hoping that this matter can be sorted out before then," Gonsalves said.

The 24-year-old Maloney, who was the sole flag-bearer for St Vincent and the Grenadines at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, recently established a new national 800 metres record of 1:58.69, at the 2024 Tyson Invitational in Arkansas. She surpassed her previous mark of 1:59.94.

Maloney followed up that performance with another national record of 4:33.68 in her debut run at a mile.

"I've never raced a mile before, so I found someone to hang on to and when I knew it was time to go, I just went. It (my late kick) kind of felt the same surprisingly, so whether it is a mile or 800m, the last 200m felt good, it probably wasn't as fast, but it felt the same and I just went out there and had fun. That is the most important part of what you do, especially when it is something your'e not used to, you always need to have fun and of course, execute," she told Arkansas Track and Field after the race.

"It is a long season, so I am just trying to stay healthy, remain injury free, but also get the work in so when it comes to Paris and the rounds, I am able to get the work in to be consistent and advance to the final. So, I am just trusting the process and trusting the Lord more than anything, He has been carrying me through. I know trusting in the Lord, myself and my coach, is definitely going to get me where I need to be," the talented athlete reasoned.

 

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