The name “Andrew” is of Greek origin and according to the internet website—ThinkBaby Names, it means—Man Warrior.
Never can a name so befit one man as is the case with Trinidad and Tobago’s Andrew Lewis, who finished his second Olympic Games in the Laser Sailing class in 39th position over the weekend, after placing 36th in Race 9 in a time of 52.24 and 32nd in Race 10 in a time of 51.19.
For Lewis, the end result may have been disappointing, following his 37th place finish in London 2012.
But for those of us who have been following the career of this humble young man and know of his history over the past year, our sense of respect for his indomitable spirit, his appetite for pain and his courage, know no bounds.
Last December, while many of us were singing parang and eating pastelles, the Lewis family was enduring its most testing time, not only of faith but in the suffering they experienced as their priceless son was seriously injured in Brazil, felled by a surface covering that threatened to not only end his career, but most felt that at best, Lewis would be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
The 27-year-old laser sailor was crushed by the top section of the wall after it fell on him as he was trying to retrieve his keys.
He was left with two broken ribs, a broken tibia and fibula in his left leg, a punctured lung and nine fractured bones in his face.
“At that point you don’t really think about the Olympics any more, you think about survival you know,” Lewis said.
“Life is a very precious thing for me and I don’t want it to be taken away, so the basic things like walking again, eating again, breathing again on my own were the priority.
“Being in the hospital was a blur for me. My dad arrived on the second day and one of the first things I told him was, ‘Don’t worry Dad, we’ll be on the start line’. I don’t give up very easily. After a few weeks of the worst pain I’ve ever felt, I realised I could get past the pain.”
After a week in hospital, his lung was functioning well enough for him to have surgery on his facial injuries, and he also required an operation to insert a metal pin extending from his left knee to his ankle.
“I told my team of doctors and physiotherapists I would walk one month from the accident, and I would run in two months,” he said.
“And once I could walk and run, I could sail. Anyone who told me ‘no’, I pretty much removed them from the team.”
His body still in pain, Lewis was determined: “This was my dream, I am not going to let this deter me from going out there and representing my country. I have been working on this all these years, so once there was a chance, I was going to take it,” Lewis said.
“There will always be pain but I have already qualified, so now it is about getting as fit as possible and being there when the event starts.
“In life you always get challenges but it is about how you overcome them,” added Lewis, who is also a brand ambassador for Atlantic in Trinidad and Tobago.
His manager and close friend Kairon Serrette puts it best.
“It is what it is. Andrew has been through a lot but he is a fighter and will not give up. He will compete and compete and every day, he will return and fight again.”
For me and several others in Brazil, it is the sort of attitude that you wish Dr Margaret Ottley, the T&T physiologist could conjure up among all our representatives in sport.
“It is tough but each day, I just kept at it, hoping to get better,” said Lewis.
For those who may not properly understand, the achievement for Andrew Lewis was simply being at the starting line on August 9.
Lesser men would have conceded defeat and turned their backs on Rio, but not this Man Warrior.
He fought, fought, fought, even when over anxiety led to his disqualification in one race and a 47-point penalty, he returned with a smile.
It is that smile, that big laugh that symbolises Andrew Lewis. He never showed the inner pain he must have felt. He never asked: ‘What if?’
One feels that come Tokyo, 2020, Andrew will be seeking one last chance to show the world that he is back, stronger, fully fit and bettered prepared to beat the seas.
For being in Rio 2016, however, Andrew Lewis deserves more than a gold medal.