By 10.30 a.m. on Sunday morning, Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis hopes to be over the finish line at White Hall, having completed his 26.2-mile walk in the T&T International Marathon.
But he hopes that walk will be the start of something that will prevail for a long, long time.
Lewis will be walking the Marathon as part of the #10golds24 project aimed at developing a long-term system of funding and overall development for athletes competing in Olympic event sports.
The TTOC boss has decided to lead by example and walk the walk.
“I feel as ready as I can possibly be,” he told the Express yesterday. “I was hoping to do some specific preparation but I must admit, addressing some of the issues that would have arisen from the unfortunate event on the weekend, has caused a distraction.”
Lewis was referring to a break-in at Olympic House that was discovered on Sunday morning and is now under police investigation.
The break-in aside however, the TTOC president is “determined” to back up his words with action on Sunday, despite the daunting task facing him.
He admitted that he hasn’t participated in a T&T Marathon in “about 24 years.”
Further, he said: “As training, I did a 16-mile walk and I must admit I struggled a bit...The most I would have walked is three hours and 15, three hours and 20 minutes, and I know what I go through physically.”
The anticipation of future pain and suffering however, is not uppermost in Lewis’ mind. It is setting a certain standard about which he is thinking. And getting public support for the “10 golds by 2024” concept.
“The focus is on serving our athletes and trying as best as possible to address their needs and issues. We can’t begin to address those issues if we continue to live in denial. The fact remains, even though many of our athletes in team Olympic sports are amateur, they have to go and compete for medals against people who are full-time...
“We have an obligation to make the best effort that we can to assist our athletes.”
The former rugby player will therefore be putting his banged up 54-year-old body through his walk of all walks as part of that obligation.
And he his hoping that public support for the project grows.
“This is not a one and done,” he said of the Marathon effort. “There are a number of fund-raising ideas.”
He said the TTOC will work with the business community to provide internship, mentorship and work opportunities for elite athletes.
Eventually, Lewis hopes that the fund will become a foundation, independent of Government control.
As far as Sunday goes however, the hope is that pledges come for as many marathoners as possible from, “former athletes, administrators, family and friends of athletes.”
Those who wish to support can make their pledges through the TTOC account at Scotiabank (Acc No. 171188) and cheques made payable to the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee.
As he tries to go the distance on Sunday therefore, president Lewis will be hoping that the public will be inspired to do the same. For 2024 and beyond.