Lewis says athletes will rebound in Paris2024

Port-of-Spain- TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO Olympic Committee (TTOC) President Brian Lewis is counting on the resilience of Team TTO athletes and the country to bounce back with better performances in Paris 2024.

Team TTO concluded their Tokyo campaign without a medal, the first time since the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Of the 19 Summer Olympic Games that T&T has participated in, TTO has gone without a medal in eight of them, starting in 1956 (Melbourne, Australia), 1968 (Mexico City) and 1972 (Munich, Germany). They also failed to appear in the medal standings in the 1980 (Moscow, Russia), 1984 (Los Angeles, USA) and 1988 (Seoul, South Korea) editions.

Of the 19 medals won (three gold, five silver, 11 bronze), 15 came from track and field athletes, the exceptions being weightlifting -- Rodney Wilkes (bronze in 1948 London and 1952 Helsinki; and Lennox Kilgour bronze 1952 Helsinki; and swimming, George Bovell, bronze in 2004, Athens).

But Lewis is excited and looking forward with keen anticipation to a TTO rally at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“We had 18 athletes making their debut here in the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games, under immense and incredible adversity, obstacles and difficulties. It is no secret the challenges all athletes around the world face, but in particular, our athletes, our team TTO athletes would have had to endure and undergo during the past 18 months. So, for them to persevere and triumph over adversity, to actually get to Tokyo2020 and to participate and fight the way they fought to get in finals, to give their best effort, to do personal best marks, and to break national records. Awesome!” Lewis said.

Tokyo 2020 crop will bear fruit

Lewis is convinced that Team TTO will reap the rewards and benefits of Tokyo 2020 in the years ahead. To that end, the TTOC’s focus is on attempting to find sufficient resources to support Team TTO athletes in an increased and improved way than, even given the challenging economic conditions in the country due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

“So, for the TTOC, I can’t congratulate enough and express enough appreciation to the 33 athletes, each and every one of them that made it to Tokyo 2020,” the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Associations (CANOC) President said, adding his gratitude to the coaches, the technical officials, the medical staff, the Chef de Mission Lovie Santana and the Covid-19 liaison officer (CLO) Rheeza Grant.

“It is only positives and benefits that will come from the learning and the experience they will get,” Lewis emphasized.

Lewis recalled the criticism TTOC received for sending Ato Boldon to the 1992 Barcelona Games before Boldon ushered in his four-time Olympic medal era in 1996 (one silver, one bronze) and 2000 Sydney Games (two bronze).

“That (Boldon) era built up and inspired and contributed a lot to our successes and so the same thing will happen again,'' Lewis described, adding the country’s first Olympic gold medallist Hasely Crawford followed a similar path after failure at the 1972 Munich Games before his stellar 1976 Montreal showing.

“Out of failure and adversity is when greatness, victory and success is achieved, especially in sport. So, for my mind, it is all positive. It is all about learning, growing, and bouncing back better,” Lewis said.

He added he had no regret establishing the aspirational goal of 10 or more golds by year 2024, introduction of medal bonuses, the establishment of the Athletes Welfare and Preparation Fund and Future is Female initiatives. He is also fond of the Replace Guns with Medals initiative.

“It will all pan out in the end. The TTOC is proud and happy to continue supporting our youth and young people who provide inspiration and motivation for the youth and young people in T&T ...They are taking on the globe, the world and they are punching and fighting to be among the best in the world and that is something that the TTOC is incredibly proud of our athletes for,” Lewis concluded.