Within moments of stepping back on to home soil on September 15, returning hero, 400m hurdler Kyron McMaster had his audience basking in his positive energy as he was welcomed back in the International Departure Lounge at the Road Town Ferry Terminal by family members, Government officials and media for his brief visit to the Virgin Islands.
The recurring theme in the welcome remarks shared by Acting Governor His Excellency David Archer, Acting Premier Honourable Kye Rymer and the Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports, Honourable Sharie B. De Castro, was the selflessness of McMaster as he consistently steered the limelight away from his own achievements to focus on the needs of the aspiring athletes in the community and the necessity of directing resources to developing sports across the board.
His gold medal winning performance at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games was acknowledged by speakers for making history as the first time the Territorial Song was played at a major international Games – an emotional occasion generating tears of pride and joy. McMaster also was recognised for being a true ambassador for the Territory.
“Kyron is an athlete but he is more than that – he is an ambassador supreme for the British Virgin Islands,” said Ephraim Penn, President of the BVI Commonwealth Games Association. “He has done so much for his country. He carries himself in a special way and is always looking out for the next generation of athletes – directing any offer of assistance to those that are coming up. He has always shown that genuine concern for the other athletes and I take this opportunity to thank him for his genuine interest in sports development and to thank Kyron and the other senior athletes who, through their hard work, are paving the way for young athletes of the future.”
Receiving a reward cheque from the Government of the Virgin Islands in the amount of $38,000 presented to him by Honourable De Castro, McMaster voiced his appreciation of the funds acknowledging the payment as being a motivator for his gold medal wins at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which earned him $30,000 and the NACAC Championships with a national reward of $8,000. Both competitions took place in August.
“I’ve been around the block experiencing the highs and the lows and I know what’s in store for the future athletes,” said McMaster whose path to winning championship titles included consecutive 8th place finishes. “If you don’t have that push it’s easy to quit so I feel it’s imperative that we target the younger ones now because they are blinded by not seeing the success of working hard straight away, which therefore makes it easy for them to stray. It’s necessary for them to see the journey and hard work to get to this point of success.”
McMaster stated that his future goals include contesting the gold medal at the World Championships and the Olympics, which he plans to achieve by making some changes and working smarter. His ultimate goal is to break the world record and put the BVI in the sports history books around the world.
During his time at home, McMaster visited his two alma maters in Tortola – the Ebenezer Thomas Primary School (ETPS) in Sea Cow’s Bay and the Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS) in Road Town.
On September 16, ETPS received McMaster with a line-up of students with placards bearing his name and chanting “welcome home”. Remarks were shared by Principal Sybil Hodge, District Representative Julian Fraser, President Penn, BVI Athletics Association President Steve Augustine and Hon. De Castro. An interactive Q & A session with the kindergartners through 6th graders was rounded off with McMaster signing scores of autographs before being challenged to a couple of races in the playground. McMaster secured his reputation with the school children by winning the impromptu events leaving one young student to wonder whether the two races were the fastest times the champion had ever run.
Junior students at ESHS listened intently to McMaster as he spoke at the 8:00am assembly on September 20. Reflecting on his own experiences, he advised his audience that if they wanted to succeed in life, they should pay attention to their teachers and to work hard as a failure to do so now will lead to a tougher journey in the future. He also admonished anyone listening to be true to themselves, set aside negative attitudes, find a passion, set a goal and execute in order to “earn their bread”. His words hit home not just with the youngsters, but also the adults in attendance who thanked him for the inspiration to stop procrastinating and reset their focus on achieving their dreams.
McMaster’s schedule of public engagements ended with a reception at Government House hosted on September 20 by the Acting Governor. The event brought full circle the receptions hosted by His Excellency the Governor for the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay in May and the send-off in July for the athletes and delegation who participated in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The upcoming major Games McMaster plans to compete at include the San Salvador 2023 CAC Games in El Salvador (June 23 – July 8), the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary (August 19 – 27), the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games in Chile (October 20 – November 5) and the Paris 2024 Olympics in France (July 26 – August 11).