APPROXIMATELY $14,000 in cash, as well as two digital cameras, were reportedly stolen from the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic House, Abercromby Street, Port-of- Spain over the weekend.

President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Brian Lewis, on the social media network Twitter yesterday morning, posted, “to (the) criminals who broke into Olympic House this weekend, no weapon formed against us shall prosper. We will not be distracted.”

Lewis declined comment on the matter yesterday, as he referred all questions to Dave Williams, legal adviser to the TTOC and a trustee in its executive committee.

During a telephone interview, Williams confirmed that the incident took place.

“The president received a call (on Sunday) at about (9 am),” said Williams. “One of the staff members, in preparing for a workshop for table-tennis, came into the building (and) saw evidence that someone would have been inside.”

According to the lawyer, “there would have been about $14,000 in cash, that we would have secured in a draw, that was stolen, together with two cameras. Documents were actually tampered with. There were evidence that certain important documents would have been perused. Time would have been spent going through those documents.”

However, Williams revealed, “interestingly, a number of sneakers that we would have received from Adidas were not stolen. Laptops and computers, those things were intact.”

Williams disclosed that officers from the Central Police Station, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain visited the Olympic House on Sunday where fingerprints were taken. The TTOC lawyer pointed out that staff members were allowed on the compound yesterday. “Everyone is here, everyone is working as normal,” he said. But Williams revealed, “our telephone lines were actually tampered with, as well as the computer lines. So we are unable to have access to our computer system. We are somewhat constrained as a result of the burglary.”

WPC Cooper of the Central Police Station is currently conducting the investigation.


The Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee(TTOC) will  work with the business community to provide internship, mentorship and work opportunities for elite athletes as part of its 10 or more Olympic gold medals by 2024 #10golds24 athlete welfare and preparation programme.

TTOC President Brian Lewis said Preparing Trinidad and Tobago's Olympic  athletes for life after they retire from elite level sport is one of the priorities of #10golds24.

Many of our Olympians would have obtained scholarships and  degrees from Universities in the USA and we need to stop the brain drain where due to a lack of opportunity they have to seek employment in the USA and other foreign countries.

As part of its #10golds24 athlete welfare and preparation programme the national Olympic committee  will be proactive in engaging the local business community and private sector in discussions to urge them to adopt athletes who are part of the #10golds24 programme.

Editors Note:

The vision of #10golds 24(  10 or more Olympic Gold medals by 2024)  is to enable Trinidad and Tobago  athletes to realize their Olympic  dreams.

The aim of #10golds24 athlete welfare and preparation programme and Fund is to provide financial and holistic assistance to  our nation’s Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes to enable them to train, recover and compete.

Bovell to hone his skills ahead of Rio 2016

Top Trinidad and Tobago swimmer George Bovell says 2015 will be about fine-tuning his preparations and experimenting a bit to get things right for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Bovell described 2014 as a tough year in which he added too much workload and paid the price.

But it still was a fruitful one for the 2004 Athens Olympic bronze medallist who won nine medals at the FINA World Cup Swimming Series and completed a three-peat of gold medals in the Men’s 50 metres freestyle at the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) in Mexico.

“I thought that if I did everything I was doing in 2013, which was my best year; if I just improved upon it with a little bit more work, a little bit harder work, that I would be faster. But there is only so much work that your body can take. It needs to recover and I think last summer I got a little carried away, did too much work. We worked too hard and I got over-trained coming into the Commonwealth Games. But that training is in the bank, it will pay off later on and I was able to recuperate some of my speed for the FINA World Cup,” Bovell said, adding that he was just returning to the pool after a five-week break to resume his training.

Looking ahead to 2015, the all-important pre Olympic year, Bovell said his programme will be progressive.

“Things will build up this year towards the Pan Am Games in Canada and the World Championships in Russia then I’ll carry on and continue to race in the FINA World Cup,” Bovell explained.

“All in all, this year is more of a dry run for the Olympics season, another chance to work out what you need to do, how you need to do it, how you think your subjective preparation can be improved and really just a time to try things so you know next year what exactly works for you.”

At 31, Bovell is no longer a spring chicken in the sport, but he believes strongly he has been able to use his experience well and maintain his desire for top-level performances.

“Physically I feel the same. I think I am more skilful. I have the experience behind me. I think it’s a big misconception that you hit a peak in your 20s and you decline from there. I don’t think so at all, I think a man’s prime is in the whole of his 30’s and you don’t hit a peak and decline, rather you hit a big plateau and whereas your rate of improvement might not be as fast as in your 20s , you have all that experience and knowledge behind you,” Bovell observed. “You know exactly how to train smart, you know exactly how to race and you are so skilful, the biggest details come like second nature, which is a huge advantage for the older swimmers.”

He added: “I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think it was going to be that way. If I thought my best days were behind me, I would hang the suit up.”

On the three-day George Bovell Dive-in clinic held at three locations last week, Bovell thanked his sponsors Oasis Water, Atlantic and SPORTT and said it was the most successful of the programmes to date.

“The level of athletes we were working with this time... surpassed (what we had in the past),” he said.

He noted that, “with an Olympic gold medallist and world champion (Roland Schoeman of South Africa) ...this served to really inspire and uplift the swimmers in the country; to show them being a great swimmer is possible.

He continued: “There is something to be said about learning backstroke from the best backstroker in the world (Arkady Vyatchanin) and current world record holder learning from two world champions in fly (Ross Burmester and Schoeman). It is a very unique, special experience for the youth, and it is something I hope we can build upon and improve upon in the future.”

Back on the Olympic path, and speaking of his own future, Bovell said his sole focus in 2016 will be one big taper for a peak performance at the Rio Games.

Olympic Committee president gears up to...

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.

High-profile All Blacks must decide within the next four months whether to pursue a gold medal at next year's Olympic Games.

New Zealand Rugby plans to unveil its first squad, which will feature an amalgamation of sevens specialists, Super Rugby stars and All Blacks who have signalled interest, in late May.

A wider squad must also be submitted to the New Zealand Olympic Committee by August 5 - one year out from the games in Rio de Janeiro. Up to 26 players will then be confirmed in the squad announced after the Rugby World Cup in October. That squad will be whittled down to 12 players for the Olympics.

While speculation that Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson would switch codes has faded, Gordon Tietjens' wish-list is expected to include brothers Julian and Ardie Savea, Liam Messam, Sonny Bill Williams, Charles Piutau, Ben Smith, Hosea Gear and Victor Vito. Of that group, only Williams has no previous sevens experience.

NZR general manager rugby Neil Sorensen and player relationship manager Ben Castle, the former Chiefs prop, will canvas several of those players in the coming months.

"Ben and I are going around in the next couple of months to talk to players Titch may be interested in about how it might work in 2016 in terms of whether they can play any Super Rugby and how many sevens tournaments they'd have to play," Sorensen said. "It's going to be personalised to a large extent.

"The Super Rugby teams need to know sooner than later so they can talk to other players. Knocking it off in May this year gives everyone certainty.

"You're looking at a mix of specialist gurus, the experts who have played sevens for a few years, and a smattering of other players like Sonny Bill. I certainly don't see it being eight All Blacks and four other guys. It won't work like that."

Tietjens, All Blacks management, Super Rugby coaches and the NZR board held discussions recently about the difficult juggling act they face in 2016.

With $2.4 million pledged towards the men's sevens team over the next two years and $2m for the women during the same period, double Olympic gold is high on the agenda.
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But with Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu, Ben Franks, Jeremy Thrush, Tony Woodcock, Conrad Smith, Keven Mealamu and Charlie Faumuina all expected to leave the New Zealand scene, along with other mid-tier talent, after the Rugby World Cup, the All Blacks will confront a challenging rebuilding phase. Coach Steve Hansen will have a lot on his plate ahead of Wales' three-match tour in June next year and the high-profile tour by the British and Irish Lions in 2017.

Striking a balance in priorities creates clear dilemmas.

Players such as Piutau must essentially choose between cementing their spot in the post-World Cup All Blacks outfit or attending the Olympics.

Details are still being worked through but it is understood those that opt for the sevens route will miss six to eight weeks of Super Rugby, depending on their level of sevens experience, conditioning and natural abilities. They are also not likely to be available for the All Blacks until the end-of-the-year tour to the northern hemisphere.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is, however, confident Williams will turn out for the franchise next year.

"There's no doubt going to an Olympic Games is pretty special," Rennie said. "If he commits to sevens he'll still play some Super Rugby. We just won't have full access to him.

"With Sonny he couldn't just play sevens and sit out for three weeks. We've certainly been talking to Titch around that. It's going to be the same for all the franchises. If you've got some guys involved then you'll get some access to them."

NZR is also keen to ensure that those who chase a gold medal are not left out of pocket.

"If they are currently earning $10 and they get picked to go to Rio then they'll earn the same," Sorensen said. "It's just a matter of how we supplement that for their Super Rugby franchise."


The Olympic spirit has come to this: Two authoritarian countries are vying to host the 2022 Winter Games, competing to endure a huge financial strain for the benefit of burnishing their public image. The withdrawal of Oslo in October left Beijing, China’s capital, and Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, as the contenders. They formally submitted their bids to the International Olympic Committee this month.

That helps explain why the president of the International Olympic Committee, the German lawyer Thomas Bach, pushed through landmark human rights reforms at a big Olympic summit meeting in Monaco last month.

For the first time, host countries must sign a contract that requires protections for human rights, labor and the environment. These “international agreements and protocols” are meant to protect against abuses such as Russia’s anti-gay law, passed ahead of last year’s Winter Games in Sochi, and the labor and human rights abuses before and during the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. These reforms are about to get a rigorous test in the global spotlight — whether the 2022 Games are in China, which welcomed journalists to Beijing in 2008 with a censored Internet, or Kazakhstan, which locks up critics and closes down newspapers.

Over the past decade, Human Rights Watch has documented how major sporting events are also accompanied by human rights violations when games are awarded to serial human rights abusers. Repressive countries promised to respect media and other rights to secure the events, then reneged and relied on international sporting bodies to stay silent.

As these countries prepare for events, forced evictions without fair compensation free up space for the massive new infrastructure construction that Olympics require. Migrant workers are cheated and labor under long hours and sometimes deadly working conditions. Construction leads to environmental and other complaints. Activists who object are silenced or jailed. Beijing locked up critics of the Olympics. In Russia, an environmentalist drew a three-year prison sentence, and members of the feminist band Pussy Riot were beaten and detained, for their protests of the Sochi Games. Given the abuses, is there any hope for change?

If there is the political will to implement them, the contract reforms could improve conditions in countries that host big sporting events. Autocrats are increasingly turning to international sporting events to boost their global standing, so the regulations adopted by their governing bodies might be the only way to make human rights advances in some of the most abusive places.

At Sochi last year, for example, the I.O.C. pressured the Russian government to take action against the theft of wages from workers who helped build Olympic venues and infrastructure. Some 500 companies were investigated, and inspectors found that thousands of workers had been cheated out of more than $8 million in wages. The general director of a top construction company was arrested on suspicion of withholding wages. This action resulted from a specific reform from the 2009 Olympic Congress: a promise that the I.O.C. would intervene in the event of “serious abuses,” including abuses of migrant workers.

In Iran, hard-liners and reformists alike cheer the country’s volleyball successes. A law student, Ghoncheh Ghavami, was jailed in Iran’s notorious Evin prison last year after she protested a ban on women entering a stadium to watch an International Federation of Volleyball World League match. In November, the federation (known as FIVB, the acronym in French) called on the Iranian government to release Ms. Ghavami, and affirmed its commitment to “inclusivity and the right of women to participate in sport on an equal basis.” The federation warned that Iran’s policy could limit its ability to host international tournaments in the future. Ms. Ghavami was released on bail shortly thereafter, but not before a revolutionary court convicted her of “propaganda against the state” and sentenced her to one year in prison. She is appealing.

In 2012, Saudi Arabia allowed two women, at the last moment, to compete at the London Summer Games. But it still forbids sports for all girls in state schools and has no women’s sports federations. The Saudis should win a gold medal in brazenness for sending a 199-member men-only team to last fall’s Asian Games, claiming, “Technically, we weren’t ready to introduce any ladies.”

Human rights and sports crises are not limited to the Olympics. Russia, despite its record of worker abuse, was awarded the 2018 World Cup. This summer, authoritarian Azerbaijan will roll out the welcome mat for the first European Games in Baku, despite escalating repression, including the December arrest of a top investigative journalist.

As Qatar builds an estimated $200 billion of infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup, hundreds of South Asian migrant workers have died working on construction projects. FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, is ripe for institutional reform. In May, it will hold a once-in-a-generation presidential election, in which the current president, Sepp Blatter of Switzerland, will seek a fifth term against stiff competition, including Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, who has championed reforms to advance women’s participation. Those candidates should back human-rights-based reforms to the FIFA Charter and set out their position on the human rights, discrimination, corruption and labor crises that have dogged the body.

The Olympic reforms passed in December mean that if future host countries fail in their duty to uphold rights, the I.O.C. is now obliged to enforce the terms of the hosting agreement — including the ultimate sanction of withdrawing the Olympics. And for those who break rules like nondiscrimination, the punishment should be a ban on playing and hosting, as the I.O.C. imposed on apartheid South Africa from 1964 to 1992 and Taliban-run Afghanistan from 1999 to 2002.

Mr. Bach has started the ball rolling, but with abuses mounting around global sporting events, it’s time for other sporting federations like FIFA to begin reforms. Fans, corporate sponsors and the general public are increasingly turned off by human rights violations. The I.O.C. reforms aren’t a panacea, but they represent an important step forward.

Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, is the editor of “China’s Great Leap: The Beijing Games and Olympian Human Rights.”