Trinidad and Tobago athletes will be compensated if they win a medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
That's because the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) is introducing a cash for medals initiative starting with the Pan Am Games in July.
Contacted yesterday, TTOC president Brian Lewis says the exact amount corresponding to each type of medal is still being worked out by the TTOC executive. He added the level of Games --Olympic Games medals will be awarded more than Pan Am Games medals-- will also be considered and determined.
But Lewis said the idea behind the introduction of the medal bonus is to encourage local athletes to raise their game.
"The thinking is to create the kind of environment needed to drive performance. One has to strive to high performance and performance based systems and one of the ways we want to do that is to introduce the medal bonus starting at the 2015 Pan Am Games," Lewis said. "It's a commitment I intend to honour while we continue to work on other elements
The former Harvard rugby player said for now the bonus will be strictly for medals and will include individual, relays and team sports.
"It is a starting position and we will review the quantum as we go along...I can say already say that the Olympics will definitely have a medal bonus higher than Pan Ams," he said.
Lewis added the incentive is part of the 10 Olympic golds by 2024 initiative. "I think it is very exciting in the context of what it does it signals to the athlete we are serious about creating a high performance environment," Lewis said.
Lewis added it is part of a number of other initiatives the TTOC is currently undertaking or discussing to undertake including another developing Sports Science and Sports Medicine Service network of sports medicine people, athletic trainers, physiotherapists, and a bio mechanic; the pursuit of a local Olympic Training Centre (discussions ongoing with the SPORTT company, UTT etc) in consultation with a high performance centre like the Michael Johnson Performance Centre in Texas; and internships and career placement programmes for athletes modelled after the IOC Athlete Career Programme.
"Obviously we can't solve all the problems immediately but we want to move the bar higher and what we are saying to the athlete is we are creating an incentive, To me the most important resource is the T&T athlete, at this particular point, and we are very much focused on high performance and creating that environment and opportunities for the athletes," Lewis said.
Lewis added it is all part of a "strategic, structured and systemic approach" the TTOC is adopting as the TTOC looks "to impact the athletes in a very tangible way"
"We can't continue to put so much burden on athletes, If we cannot be totally professional, we still have the facilities and resources where we can provide the athletes with support services they need and if we can create performance based incentives, create the opportunities for the athletes, it will be developing a win-win for the country, for the IOC, the NSO and corporate Trinidad and Tobago. With the Rio Olympics 14 months away, it is also important we need a sense of urgency to continue to push for these initiatives to come on stream as we look to Rio, Tokyo 2020 and beyond," Lewis concluded.