TRINIDAD and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis has warned athletes to temper their reactions to the country’s celebrations of their recent IAAF World Championship success with the expressed disappointment in the national athletes at last year’s Rio Olympics.
Lewis said while athletes should enjoy the celebrations, they must remember the public’s reception last year after the Brazil Games when Keshorn Walcott (Men’s Javelin bronze) brought home the country’s sole medal.
“(As a nation), we undervalue, underappreciate how much effort it takes to stand at the top of podium. Let me just say this. I have lived through many a celebration and many a gathering in this same VIP Lounge over the years. I want to urge us all not to over-celebrate because one thing we learn in sport, the next event, the next innings, begins at zero,” said Lewis,
“Our athletes will celebrate and enjoy but they have to remember, as Rudyard Kipling said in his poem, “IF”: You have to treat triumph and disaster, which are both impostors, the same way. One year ago -- don’t let that come out of your memory. Let it serve as your inspiration and remember that as a people T&T makes huge demands and expectations, and just as they will celebrate your success, they will express their disappointment.”
Addressing the performance of the team in London specifically, Lewis said he had to fight back some emotion because he was aware “of the enormous challenges, sacrifices and adversity that our athletes would have endured this year.”
“But in saying that, I want to say that it is no different from what our country has gone through in these difficult economic times and therefore you have to keep it in context,” the former Trinidad and Tobago Rugby Football Union secretary general said.
Lewis described the national track and field athletes as patriots
“I also want to acknowledge the effort of every single athlete who had the pride, honour and privilege of representing T&T in London 2017,” the TTOC boss said.
“What we saw on display with every single athlete was patriotism at work. What we certainly saw in the (Men’s) 200m was heart, guts and courage at work. And what we saw in the (Men’s) 4x400m (relay) was courage, an indomitable will to succeed and a determination to bring home not just any medal, but a gold medal for T&T,” Lewis said.
He congratulated Jereem Richards, whom he respected as coming from the background of a single-parent home like himself, and advised him his life would change. He also advised the 23-year-old Richards to stay humble and to seek advice from other successful national athletes in how they dealt with the highs and lows of athletic success.