Lewis buoyed by Pan Am success

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Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis described the country’s best ever medal haul at a Pan Am Games as “significant and encouraging” but added that there is no room for complacency as the TTOC continues to encourage systems and infrastructure for future success at the other multi-discipline Games like the 2016 Rio Olympics and beyond.

Team TTO picked up eight medals including three gold, Men’s 4 x 400 relay (Renny Quow, Jarrin Solomon, Emanuel Mayers, Machel Cedenio) Cleopatra Borel; and Keshorn Walcott), three silver (Mickel Thomas, Njisane Phillip, Machel Cedenio) and two bronze (George Bovell & Men’s 4x1 relay), a new record haul for the country, bettering the returns from the Winnipeg 1967 edition (two gold, two silver, three bronze) and the Santo Domingo 2003 edition (two gold, four silver, one bronze)

“For the country yet again sports continues to bring a positive image to Trinidad and Tobago. The performances of the contingent at the Pan Am Games were significant and encouraging,” Lewis said, adding that the TTOC had set a goal of eight medals for these Games.

Lewis said some of the incentives and systems—the number of athletes on Olympic Solidarity, PASO scholarships, the ten or more golds by 2024 athlete welfare and preparation programme, the introduction of the medal bonuses, had helped.

“We are starting to put into place the infrastructure and systems at the level of the TTOC and we will be continuing to work with stakeholders like the NSOs, SPORTT and the Ministry of Sport to improve the process for our athletes to succeed,” Lewis said.

Lewis said this country’s results at the Toronto 2015 was a clear signal of the talent existing in the country and the TTOC would continue now to focus on Rio 2016 to ensure that athletes who have qualified or are likely to qualify for those quadrennial Games receive the needed assistance.

Lewis believed the athletes showed the talent and the desire to achieve a success, revelling in the performance of T&T’s 4 x 400m gold medal performance but also noting the performances of some who didn’t medal.

“When we look at young(Christian) Marsden, (Dylan) Carter, the more experienced ones got the job done. When you look at Sparkle Mc Knight Mc Knight, Semoy Hackett and Kelly Ann Baptiste, coming back after a long lay off, it is really important that we look past these Games now and start taking it up to the next level, because while Pan Am medals are a good indicator, both the Worlds and Olympic standards are going to be higher and we must encourage and facilitate our athletes moving up to that level,” Lewis said.

Lewis believed the introduction of the medal bonus created a positive vibe and the TTOC will continue to bring on new corporate partners. “The athlete welfare and support is going to be heightened by TTOC. We will focus even more and dedicate some attention to athlete and welfare services,” Lewis said.

“That’s what I would like to work on now. I think one of the pluses coming out of to 2015 more people may now believe in the potential of the athletes. A lot of people were sceptical before about the whole ten golds by 2024, saying there lacked systems and policies in place, there were gaps. I think that the buy-in is coming. There are some gaps, targets we need to set incrementally, some systemic issues that need to be addressed including the use of facilities and access to them by the NSOs,” he added.

“We need to look at whether we do more in support, from the sport science aspect. So there is a lot that still needs to be done but I genuinely and sincerely believe we can build from here and I call on stakeholders to let’s use the Pan Am as a platform to move forward in a real powerful and significant way.” Lewis concluded.

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