A spectacular, golden performance by Trinidad and Tobago’s World Relay champs, Deon Lendore, Jereem Richards, Asa Guevara and Machel Cedenio, in the 4×400 metre event, in Yokohama, Japan, this month, has provided another tantalizing teaser of what could lay in store for the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, (TTOC), as they chase their ambitious Vision 2024 goal.
#10Golds24 is the hashtag coined by the TTOC for this initiative, which aims to achieve ten or more olympic gold medals by the year 2024.
TTOC President, Brian Lewis, says his team continues to work assiduously to make their dream a reality and to nurture and develop olympic champions. Last year, the organisation hosted two transitional development programmes, focusing on areas like anti-doping, sports psychology, nutrition, branding and financial management. The TTOC’s #10Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund, established in 2014, has also been paying off, with several athletes afforded financial assistance to fund their olympic dreams. “Many of TTO’s Elite athletes are not financially well rewarded and would not have an opportunity to reach their potential without financial support,” Lewis points out, adding that the initiative also provides life skills training and internships with corporate TT to help prepare athletes for life after sport.
Looking back, Lewis says 2018 was a good year for team TTO.
At the Commonwealth Games, held in Australia, sprinter, Michelle Lee Ahye created history when she became the first female athlete to earn a gold medal at the prestigious Games. Jereem Richards’ gold medal in the 200m and swimming sensation, Dylan Carter’s silver in the Men’s 50m Butterfly, brought the total medal count to three. And at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games, held in Colombia, from July 19 - August 3, athletes brought home 30 medals:
Athletics – 2 Gold, 5 Silver and 2 Bronze
Boxing – 1 Silver and 1 Bronze
Cycling – 4 Gold and 5 Bronze
Hockey – 2 Bronze Rowing – 1 Silver
Swimming – 3 Gold, 1 Silver and 3 Bronze
A few months later in October, the female Futsal team made its debut at the Youth Olympic Games, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and while no medals were won, the 13 athletes gave their best efforts during a highly competitive Youth Olympic Games, with swimmer Kael Yorke achieving a new personal best time in the Men’s 200m Butterfly and Kelsey Daniel jumping to a new personal best in the Men’s Triple Jump.
The TTOC has not slowed down in 2019.
In April, it launched a new initiative called the Thrive Team TTO programme, which aims to provide motivation, mentorship and opportunities to athletes. Four-time olympian and bobsledder, Lauryn Williams, has partnered with the TTOC to bring the programme to life and recently visited the country to speak one-on-one with athletes, coaches, parents and media. “In order to increase Trinidad and Tobago’s chances of winning 10 gold medals by 2024, corporate sponsors, businesses, all need to be on board,” Williams advised the TTOC during the recent seminar, as she spoke about the need for greater support for elite athletes.
Lewis shared similar sentiments. “We cannot wait until 2020 to start supporting our athletes who have a real chance of qualifying for the Olympics and getting onto that podium,” he says.
“All eyes are on Tokyo 2020, and the time to support team TTO is now.”