FROM failure to qualify for Beijing 2008 to orienting his sails to his third consecutive Olympics in Tokyo this summer, Andrew Lewis's voyage through the sport of sailing has covered a wide gamut of human experiences.
The Beijing disappointment ceded way to the euphoria of an Olympic maiden appearance as a super underdog in London 2012, the realisation of a childhood dream. In its wake came the daunting but surmountable challenge of the Rio 2016 Olympic experience- a near-fatal accident six months out that inspired another of his personal traits: resilience. After ensuring qualification for the July 23-August 8 Tokyo 2020 Games, back in January, the 31-year-old Lewis is continuing on his pilgrimage of self-development.
'I am a firm believer that anyone who is teaching or preaching, the best thing to teach is having done it before. My 31 years of life have really moulded me into a human being that is fundamentally living on one basis: once my heart is beating, the fight is alive and that fight is a desire, a mission, a vision to be the best version of myself through the pathway of self-mastery,' Lewis explained.
Lewis lives by the fundamentals of you are what you feed yourself, through your sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell.
'I call that my life diet, by having a very clean life diet full of upward-spiralling intake, it really has allowed me to become a solid human being in my opinion so that I could say I am ready to have a child, to bring in a young one in this world with my wife,' Lewis assessed, recalling how both his exhilarating and despondent experiences over the last four Olympics have shaped his being.
'All these things have shown me life is much much bigger than any of these events... life is all about staying alive, being in the present and understanding how to make the best of every minute that is in front of you because all we have is now. We doh have yesterday, we doh have tomorrow. So these are the things that have really helped mould me, and showed me year after year, Olympics after Olympics to understand life in its truest and fullest form, through my eyes.'
His travels--afforded him by sailing-to all corners of the globe have only deepened his appreciation for the diversity of people, races, religions and culture and the differing backgrounds and experiences those entail.
'...As I continue to see the world as it is in its truest form, what I see through my eyes and feel in my heart, it excites me because the way I have programmed my self is I am an optimist and I am a human being that is always looking for the positive and the lessons in everything that I see, and always trying to learn,' Lewis reflected, adding that although he enjoyed his school days, he wasn't a big fan of school itself.
'The best school for me is life...So where this all comes from is an overall excitement for life because I do believe the greatest gift to anybody is life, and throughout my greatest journeys I have found that passion, that love to continue experiencing it and to live it.'
The life journey now takes a tack to Tokyo. Last month, Lewis steered his Laser into high level competitive action-for the first time since January 2020 due to Covid-19--in the European Continental Olympic qualifiers in Vilamoura, Portugal. He finished 32nd out of 140 sailors from 14 countries. It proved crucial race-fitness preparation and race-simulation ahead of the Japan assignment, where he expects to encounter conditions-- hot, humid, variable winds and dark water--similar to Trinidad.
'This competition for me was very important competition to get back racing with large fleets and to get back the whole flow of exactly what it feels like to race against many, many boats at the same time,' Lewis said.
'While I have been doing this for almost 15 years, it still is something that needs to be practiced. Like any good habit that I formed, yes, the muscle memory is there and the brain could always kick back in very quickly, but the more you practice is the more the art form will come alive. So while it was not an event that I had to take part in, I definitely put everything in place to be there so that I could get as much practice with big fleets (before the Olympic Games). My goal is to race in as many large fleets as I can before Tokyo.'
That will actually equate to two more big races, one at the end of May in Portugal and the other at the start of June in the Netherlands featuring all the top countries. The plan is to attend those two meets under the guidance of coach Javier Hernandez. Lewis, who is based in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain will then make his way to Tokyo.
'While the pandemic is going on and all these things are happening, I am in top form right now and I have a really, really, really nice plan between now and Tokyo which I really do see as being very fruitful and allowing me a pathway to have my best Olympic Games ever.'
Lewis was high in praise for Coach Hernandez, his mentor/trainer Darren Farfan, his management, Government, and other stakeholders who have supported his career.
'Throughout all the difficulties, complications and unique things, no one has given up or stopped working. I really do believe this Games is going to be a very special one for me, and the results will show that.'