PARTICIPATION in the 2021 TT International Marathon will kickstart the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC)’s 75th-anniversary celebrations, according to TTOC president Brian Lewis.
However, the TTOC’s celebrations will be done differently due to the ongoing covid19 pandemic.
During a recent interview, Lewis said, “Because of covid and the challenging circumstances, our 75th celebrations would look entirely different to how it would have looked were it not for covid.
“The Marathon is kicking off the covid-restricted celebrations,” added Lewis. “The Marathon this year is a virtual (one), as organised by the TT International Marathon Committee chaired by Diane Henderson. I have to give credit to her leadership, for deciding that, notwithstanding the challenges, they wanted to still have an event for (its) 39th year, and you have to give them credit for that.”
This year will feature the Virtual Marathon and Ultra Challenge, with four distances on offer – marathon (26.2 miles), ultra 35 (a 56-kilometre race which extends on completion of the 26.2 miles marathon distance), half marathon (13.1 miles) and 5k/3.1 miles for fun runners.
Lewis mentioned, “This is the seventh year we’re doing the marathon walk. We chose to do it on the traditional day for the marathon, which is the fourth Sunday in January, along the traditional route.
We’ll start at St Mary’s Junction at 2 am. We’re anticipating taking six to seven hours to the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain.”
The TTOC boss continued, “The marathon walk has taken on added significance this year because it’s the 75th year (of the TTOC). We must remain undaunted by the covid19 virus. It can’t be marginalised (or) trivialised. It is serious, it has had devastating consequences economically, health-wise, etcetera throughout the globe. We’ll be ensuring that we’re in strict compliance with all the covid guidelines and protocols.
“As we prepare for Tokyo 2020, which is scheduled (from) the 23rd of July and, in September, the inaugural Junior Pan American Games, maintaining covid19 protocols is going to be a key part of what the TTOC has to do over the next two years.”
Lewis pointed out, “The marathon is being organised virtually, but we still have to do the actual distance. You have a period, which is set by the organisers, in which you have to complete your distance. You don’t have to go to one route to start, you can it any place (at) any time.
“We encourage people to feel free and donate through the Scotiabank account 171188 or at Olympic House. The days that Olympic House is open (are) Mondays and Fridays. The other days, we work from home. We have been doing that since March 2020 due to covid.”
Lewis hailed the work done by volunteers towards the local Olympic movement. “Looking back, reflecting on the 75 years, one of the constants has been the contributions made by volunteers and volunteerism. The theme for this year is ‘The Year of the Volunteers’.”
The TTOC president recently indicated that the body will have to seek a new location from its current spot at Abercromby Street, Port of Spain.
But he revealed, “The lease has been (extended) for a year. That worked out well for us because I wasn’t looking forward for us having to move before the Olympics.”
Asked if he sought assistance from Government, Lewis replied, “The Olympic Committee is a non-governmental and not-for-profit organisation. The TTOC has always sought to be self-sufficient and the only time we would apply for funding assistance was when it was Games-related. Other than that, our operational and administrative expenditure, we don’t look for Government for that.”
Does he hope to see a woman taking up the baton when he demits office? Lewis responded, “I think it’s no secret that I’ve said it, just how I’ve said that the next IOC president after Thomas Bach’s full term ends in 2025 be a female. I believe strongly in gender-equity.”