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Renee Raveneau and Imbert ‘sledge’ Roberts

Today’s athletes now have video recordings of their achievements while yesterdays children have had their exploits largely regulated to the word of mouth reminiscence. Nevertheless, the achievements of some of our former stars continue to shine, even without the modern day documentation. Two of these stars are Renee Raveneau, former national footballer and athlete, and Imbert ‘Sledge’ Roberts, St. Lucia’s first medal winner at an international athletic event.

They were sportsmen of different styles and disciplines. Raveneau, lithe and athletic; was more interested in track and football, while Roberts, a tall huge hulk of a man, placed his sporting emphasis on weightlifting, body building, and the discus and shotput events.

Raveneau went on to become one of the leading forwards in St. Lucia representing the island from 1936 to 1947. However  he was an athlete who made history, emerging the only athlete to win the Victor Ludorum title on three consecutive occasions at the annual St. Mary’s College sports. For this feat, he was granted the priviledge of keeping the trophy permanently.

Rene Raveneau was born in Castries in the early 1920s, but spent majority of his childhood as companion to his aunt at River Doree in Choiseul. It may have been there that he acquired the toughness that became so much a part of him in sport, for when he moved to Castries and into the Methodist School he was selected to be on the School’s team for the Wade Shield Competition. when he entered St. Mary’s College four years later, Raveneau, now a Wade Shield veteran, found it easy to gravitate into the College squad and soon afterwards was representing the institute at First Division level. Football in the League was no easy task for the College Boys. They came up against seasoned veterans, playing for clubs like Y.M.P.C. captained by the late great Reggie Clarke.

Within a few short years. Raveneau became the leading sports figure at St. Mary’s College. Soon after establishing himself as a footballer, he moved into athletics and cricket. By 1938, Rene Raveneau was captain of the St. Mary’s College teams in football , cricket and athletics, and held those posts until he left school in 1940. he crowned his achievements by gaining selection on the national side in 1936, followed by his spectacular hattrick as top games athlete for three years running, from 1938- 1940.  This was the first time in the school’s history that any athlete had performed that feat. The pure silver trophy, which is Raveneau’s most treasured possession, holds pride of place on his mantle piece.

Imbert ‘Sledge’ Roberts, standing well over six feet, and never weighing less than 250 pounds, found his metier in body-building and weightlifting, and later on discus throwing and shotput. Like Raveneau, he was a garduate of the Wade Shield competition, playing for R.C. Boys. He soon moved into body-building, and weightlifting, but by the  early 1950s realized he had a natural bent for putting the shot.

In 1960 Imbert represented St. Lucia at the common wealth games in Melbourne, Australia, and ebcame the First St. Lucian to win a medal at the tournament, placing third in both discus and shotput. Upon his return to St. Lucia, Roberts decided to place more emphasis on coaching. By that time he had already travelled to the United Kingdom where he obtained a degree in Physical Education at Loughborough College in Leicestershire.

Sadly Sledge was one of those persons whose talents as a Physical Educator were not fully appreciated. However, he undertook most of his assignments  on a voluntary basis. He served as President of the St. Lucia Athletics Association, a member of the St. Lucia Sports Society, and director of the West Indies Athletic Federation. These were only some of his activities. He found time to get involved in basketball, both as a player and official, trained netballers in Physical Education, and remained a member of the Police Reserves until he left St. Lucia for St. Croix in the 1980s.

Imbert Roberts has been honored by Government and several other local sporting organisations for his contribution to the development of athletics. Even so, there is little documentation on his exploits as is also the case with Rene Raveneau. Despite this, one can only compare the worth of these two great sporting individuals to that of modern day Athletes.

An Extract From: Outstanding Sports Personalities Of St. Lucia By Rupert J. Branford.


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One comment

  1. Wilson "Tito" Trabal

    Imbert “Tiny” Roberts train myself as well as a few friends in weight lifting and body building on St Croix in the mid 80’s. He was a great man…it kept us off the streets and in the gym…he would let us use the gym without having to pay a cent…he just asked we clean up the place and help maintain it. I join the Army in 87…wish I had kept in touch…he was truly a great man, and big influence in my life.

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