The Games of the 31st Olympiad opened at the iconic Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janiero on Friday and a packed stadium and billions around the world tuned in to the big show. The moment that captivated Trinidad and Tobago would have been TeamTTO entering into the famed Maracana.
Arrival of the T&T team would have been anticipated with a degree of nervousness.
Why was I nervous?
A few days prior, the T&T Olympic Committee would have received negative comments and criticisms with accusations of being unpatriotic thrown in. It was an emotive and harsh denouement caused by pictures of TeamTTO athletes during the pre Games training camp happily sporting their lime green team wear.
The appearance sparked debate about the athletes not wearing national colours.
Notwithstanding that, the TTOC in unveiling its Adidas Rio 2016 Podium and Teamwear explained that a fashion collection concept was adopted. The unveiling took the form of a runway fashion show with the intent of the TTOC being to modernise its marketing and branding. This included a merchandise program.
Coming mere days after the withering criticism and accusations of unpatriotic, one wondered if the decision to eschew the traditional Olympic ceremony wear of jacket and tie with the clichéd national colours interpretation would bring further condemnation on the TTOC.
Back in 2013 when Adidas held the first Rio 2016 Teamwear and Podium wear meeting, the idea of not doing the traditional look was placed on the table. The Team TTO kits include wear for travel, training, recreation, Olympic village and the opening and closing ceremonies.
It is against this background that the positive response of some of the very same individuals who had branded the TTOC as unpatriotic held great significance.
The T&T athletes entered the pre games training camp on July 24. Providing clothes and kit for such a prolonged period of time meant pushing the envelope.
In addition to red, white and black, there was grey, biege, blue, peach, pink and lime green. Exotic, trendy, bold, spicy, ambitious, confident and fearless.
The recreation and Olympic village wear would have a modern vibrancy. While the opening ceremony wear would be a modern Team TTO interpretation of an elegantly casual island look and vibe that also embraced an athletic aesthetic.
The positive reviews of the Team TTO Rio 2016 opening ceremony look brought a measure of pride. You look at pictures of the athletes — the joy and pride on their faces — and their T&T chip. It said we are TeamTTO. We are Trinidad and Tobago and Proud. We believe. Learn to love it.
The Team TTO Rio 2016 Adidas Teamwear and Podium Collection may have been considered risky and even daring. It garnered some criticism but in the end if one is to judge by the positive response to Team TTO at the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony, it was a risk well worth taking. Let the Games begin.
• Brian Lewis is the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC). The views expressed are not necessarily the views of the TTOC. Support #10golds24 make your donation at any branch of Scotia Bank account number 171188.