Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis will brave a left hamstring injury as he attempts to complete his second Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon to raise awareness and funds for T&T athletes.
With 2016 being an Olympic year and with T&T undergoing an economic downturn, Lewis emphasised the need to keep the spotlight on the athletes efforts including the #10goldsby2024 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund he and the TTOC successfully launched last year when he completed the 26.2 mile marathon.
Lewis said these circumstances are driving him to make the walk once more despite a chronic scar issue with his left hamstring. “I think a number of our athletes are going through, especially in striving for Olympic glory, and undergoing difficult challenges and hardships. Especially now in these economic times with oil prices down to US$33/barrel, more than ever raising the awareness and trying to get people to understand that athlete welfare is important,” Lewis said, adding that the TTOC is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, and 40 years since Hasely Crawford struck Olympic gold.
Lewis recalled that in 2015 the fund-raising for the Fund was very good with a $250,000 kick start from the Guardian Group that was followed by other contributions from Toyota, First Citizens, Flow ($5 million over the next five years) and Southern Sales.
“The reality is if we have to be able to do it consistently and support the athletes, it requires that the TTOC do fund-raising and our merchandise and marketing approach generate the funding. Coupled with the launch and the continuation of the Team TTO brand, the launch of the medal bonus, we need consistent revenue streams so remember while we focusing at this point in time on 2016 and the Road to Rio, we also have to keep an eye on 2020 which is just around the corner and some of the younger athletes,” Lewis said, adding that the TTOC marketing and e-commerce drive should also inject some money into the Fund.
Lewis stated the TTOC athlete services and marketing department have been meeting with athletes daily and understood the athletes' plight. “So what I really want to attempt to do this year is provide more inspiration. I think it is important for the athletes to feel that positive energy and inspiration from the TTOC and public so that we can encourage them to keep working and pushing through the difficult times....it is a grind for athletes, for coaches daily and it can't be forgotten,” Lewis said.
Lewis said he got inspiration from talking to two-time Olympic medallist Marc Burns two days ago when the athlete related his struggles over his career with injuries. “So I don;t have an excuse now to not attempt the marathon even with a hamstring injury because for our athletes to achieve, to just qualify for Olympic,far less medal it requires everything that the marathon represents and we tend to lose sight of that,” Lewis said.
Lewis is expected to be surrounded by a few friends on the journey on December 17 including Tony Lee, Andre Baptiste, Dexter Skeene, Richie Rahim, captain Andy Cheekes and Anton La Fond. Persons interested in contributing to the Fund can either call the TTOC at 6251284 or make a deposit at Scotiabank account # 171188.