President of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC), Brian Lewis, has expressed surprise at statements attributed to sprinter Keston Bledman after he pulled up during the first round of the 100 metres at the World Championships currently being held in Beijing.
Speaking after pulling up, Bledman said: “My season is done here. I have to pull out of all my meets. There is now no relay team because we were already down to a bare four, and sorry to say, this is on Trinidad. I told them, and my coach told them it was not smart for me to go to the Pan Am (Games). I do not know who it is, NAAA or TTOC, but I more feel it is TTOC because it is like we giving you guys funding, so once they call you, you have to come but (look at) no one sent their top athletes there, but I had to go. There is a need to listen to the athletes sometimes. It is not always about funding. Yes, you giving us funding but there are times when you listen. In the end it was not in God’s plans for me today.”
Clearly-astonished Lewis told the Trinidad Guardian: “I was very surprised to read what was said and I can understand the depth of his frustration, based on all that I have read and the situation in China where his aim was to do much better for all of us. At the TTOC, it is the same, we all want our athletes to attain their goals.” He said it was always the policy of the TTOC to ensure that an athlete’s welfare, health and future is first priority. “I can categorically without fear of contradiction say that we will never force an athlete to run where there are concerns over an injury. I have spoken with both the chef de mission, Dianne Henderson and the chief of the medical staff for the Games in Toronto, Dr Terry Ali, and both have no knowledge of such.” Lewis, who has started a campaign to benefit athletes under the banner ‘10 or more Olympic gold medals by 2024’ said that people who know him will know that he is athlete centred and athlete driven. “I do not know who may have told Keston this but it was not the TTOC.”
Lewis explained that while it was the TTOC’s belief that the best athletes should represent their country and they normally will have consultation with all related national organisations on such, there is a process if an athlete has to miss a games.
“All the athlete needs to do is to present a medical certificate showing the injury status and of course certainly we will ensure he is withdrawn.” Lewis called on Bledman to contact the T&TOC. “If the TTOC can assist him with any of his medical needs at the moment, he should contact us and we can sit down with him and his team and work something out because Keston, like all our athletes is very important to this athlete driven Olympic body.”