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Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis says the ten golds 24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund, from which he will raise awareness by participating in the 2015 Trinidad International Marathon on January 25, will also provide for athletes falling outside the conventional subventions and those who have fallen on hard times.

‘’I am looking forward to January 25. I am confident that my participating in the Marathon will gain support,” Lewis said.

Lewis said the athlete-dedicated fund (meaning all monies will be directed to athletes who meet the criteria) will also be set up to aid athletes with similar cases to Rodney Wilkes, some of whom have completed their athletic careers and find themselves struggling financially.

Lewis, the former TTOC general secretary who was elected the body’s president in 2013, said that cases will be taken on a needs and means assessment basis and expects the Fund to evolve into a sustainable foundation in the long term with the help of corporate partners.

Lewis added that based on a current assessment, the TTOC is looking to source $6 million a year to help those athletes who have competed at the TTOC-targetted Games (Olympics, Commonwealth, CAC and Pan Am Games) but who may find themselves down in their luck and complement current athletes striving for regional, international and global excellence in their particular sport.

He added the vision of #10 golds 24 (10 or more Olympic Gold medals by 2024) is to further enable national athletes to realise their Olympic dreams by “providing financial assistance to Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes to enable them to train, recover and compete.”

“This fund will be dedicated to preparing athletes to represent Trinidad and Tobago, and in the ongoing pursuit and achievement of excellence in the Olympic Games and life,” added Lewis.

The fund will cover several items in support of athlete development, including:

• Direct support (stipend) and out of pocket expenses
• Medal bonus
• Health and Accident Insurance (Providing world class medical support to our top athletes is of paramount importance. Injury and illness can threaten an athlete’s career if they’re not identified and dealt with quickly.)
• Internships with Corporate T&T to prepare for life after elite sport
• Life skills training.

“Many of our nation’s elite and high performance athletes are not financially well rewarded, and without financial support are unable to reach their potential,” said Brian Lewis, president of the TTOC.

“The wellbeing of our athletes, sportsmen and sports women is paramount to the TTOC, and this fund will enable our athletes to develop their sporting abilities and achieve consistent world class performances, fairly and ethically.”

‘’Trinidad and Tobago’s elite and high performance athletes need to have the freedom and flexibility and to dedicate more time, money and energy into their athletic endeavours. The TTOC welcomes the support of the business community and private citizens in this venture. The fund will provide national athletes with a dedicated resource and bridge the gap between success on and off the field,’’ Lewis concluded.