By Marsha Boyce
Let’s replace guns with medals!
That’s the challenge Brian Lewis, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC), handed out to the local sporting community for 2018. Lewis issued the rallying cry during the TTOC’s 23rd Annual Awards Gala on December 29.
“It is about not just winning medals. It is not just about ensuring that our athletes have the support that they need; it is not just about asking for, but giving more. It is about replacing guns by medals. It is about replacing guns and crime and the growth of crime by productive progressive citizens through the power of sport,” he said.
The TTOC president urged the packed audience to use sport to bring about much needed change in society.
“There is so much more we can do; and when I say we, I mean all of us involved in sport – each of you in this room here this evening. It is about moving from ‘me’, to ‘we’. It is about embracing the fact that through sport, we can make a powerful difference to Trinidad and Tobago,” he added.
During his address, the president outlined that that TTOC had to overcome what seemed like insurmountable odds; and in the face of local economic challenges, was able meet its many obligations to Team TTO athletes and various stakeholders. He noted that such responsibilities come at an intimidating annual cost of around TT$10 million, and credited the hard work of his staff, as well as dedicated corporate partners, supporters, athletes, coaches, administrators for the Committee’s ability to deliver.
Among the TTOC’s significant achievements for 2017 was the launching of the new Future is Female campaign designed to empower girls and woman at all level of sport development and participation; and the rolling out of the Next Champion programme, which caters to at-risk communities.
The president noted that the TTOC’s work is driven by key pillars including the development of a sustainable sport industry by 2030, and the resolute pursuit of its mission of achieving ten gold medals by 2024 (#10Gold24).
“We were faced with a number of challenges but refused to accept any limit, as we sought to drive a big vision for Team TTO – a vision that was built on an undying love and passion for the society of Trinidad and Tobago,” Lewis said.
In acknowledging the reality that another difficult year lies ahead, Lewis, who is also president of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees noted that passion, conviction, commitment and dedication were among the attributes needed for continued success.
“We believe, not so much in the performance of our people but in their potential. We value the contribution, the commitment and the dedication of our athletes, our coaches, our administrators, our sport ecosystem.
“2018 will present significant challenges but I give you the assurance that working together, we will all contribute in making Trinidad and Tobago a better place. The times are tough. The hill is high but our indomitable will, our commitment, our dedication, our love for Trinidad and Tobago will propel us. Remember, the power of conviction requires character. We are a people of character. We are a people of creativity and innovation. Let us not relent,” he said.
Meanwhile, the TTOC has come in for high praise from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Olympic Solidarity.
In a message read during the awards gala, Pere Miro, director of Olympic Solidarity, offered special congratulations to the TTOC for its continued success over the years, most notably in the achievement of gender equality on its executive board in 2017.
Following elections earlier this year, there has been an even split of male and female officers. Miro has attributed the feat in part to the TTOC’s ‘Future is Female’ campaign – a strategy initiative geared towards promoting women’s involvement in the various areas of sport.
“Such consistency is especially important these days with sport facing so many challenges, be it of economic or credibility nature. It is sport, built on solid foundations of the Olympic values that can combat apathy, crime, gang culture and other problems surfacing every day,” he said.
The IOC and Olympic Solidarity has also commended the relentless effort of the Trinidad and Tobago athletes, coaches, officials and administrators in promoting sport, Olympism and its values.
Miro’s congratulatory message was read during the TTOC’s 23rd Annual Awards Gala, before a captive audience of the local sporting fraternity at the Hyatt Regency on December 29th.
TTOC Annual Awards Gala Honour Roll 2017
Sportsman of the Year: Team TTO Men’s 4x400m Relay Team
Jarrin Solomon, Jereem Richards, Machel Cedenio, Lalonde Gordon, Renny Quow
Sportswoman of the Year: Michelle-Lee Ahye
Sports Personality of the Year: Akeem Stewart
Future is Female Award: Merissa Aguilleira
People’s Choice Award: Jereem Richards
Junior Sportsman of the Year: Adell Colthrust
Junior Sportswoman of the Year: Khalifa St Fort
Alexander B. Chapman Award: Anthony ‘Dada’ Wickham