There hasn't been a week like this in sports politics, not for a long time.

To summarise:

The third son of a deceased Middle Eastern monarch announced he would run against a long-entrenched West European incumbent for the Presidency of the world's most powerful single-sport federation.

Much of this Arab prince's support is expected to come from Western Europe; leading sports power brokers in the Arab world have, meanwhile, pronounced in favour of his European opponent.

It was suggested that two countries which are still technically at war might co-host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The suggestion was quickly rebuffed, but it raised a faint echo of the at times farcical negotiations involving the same two ideologically-divided countries, North and South Korea, in the run-up to South Korea's first Olympics in 1988.

The world's only superpower announced the city that will bid to stage the planet's pre-eminent multi-sports event nine years from now.

Against expectations, it chose sports-crazy Boston - a city where less than two years ago, three people were killed and more than 200 injured by bomb explosions near the finish-line of the world's oldest annual marathon.

Overshadowing everything else of course was the shooting atrocity that left 10 journalists/cartoonists and two police officers dead in the city that is likely to be one of Boston's chief rivals in the race for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.

It would be wrong to draw too many conclusions before more is known about the perpetrators and their motives, but the message for believers in freedom of expression was utterly chilling.

I was glad that International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach saw fit to issue a statement laced with emotion.

Though often criticised, the IOC has done its bit for press freedom in more illiberal corners of the world over the years.

More to the point, the Games's very ethos as an event where the world gathers, competes under agreed ground-rules and - most importantly - lives under the same roof for a few magical days/weeks acts as a powerful antidote to the ignorance on which bigots and fascists feed.

If there is a Paris bid, Charlie Hebdo would have - will still no doubt lampoon any trace of extravagance or pomposity with unbridled glee.

But intelligent, clear-headed criticism - however uncomfortable for individuals – is, of course, a vital component in keeping institutions grounded and moving in the right direction.

If there is a memorial service, or other secular official event, for those murdered, the IOC should be represented - I would argue by the chair of its Press Commission, who just happens to be the chairman of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

Only last week I asserted that France needed something to jolt it out of the morosity into which it had fallen and speculated whether a Summer Olympic bid could provide the electricity to flick the switch.

Well in the grimmest, most despicable way, the Charlie Hebdo gunmen seem to have stirred a deep-held, you might say instinctive, sense of human solidarity, potentially far more powerful than the displays of national solidarity that followed France's World Cup victory in 1998.

The scenes in Place de la République show very movingly that, when it really matters, the French capital can still summon a potent, quick flaring, spirit of community.

Provided - and this is critical - that the urge to identify and chastise scapegoats can be resisted, the defiant togetherness unleashed by Wednesday's hideous events could provide a real national lift.

It should also give all of us pause for thought about matters of security in a world in which relatively soft targets, such as high-profile road races and satirical magazines, are apt to come under attack.

As experts told me after the Boston bombings, but as common sense would also attest, 100 per cent security is simply not possible.

Our best bet for long-term safety, that being the case, while remaining vigilant and protecting flagship institutions and events with all resources we can muster, comes not from consenting to ever more state snooping or encroachments on the very civil liberties that set liberal societies apart from repressive ones, but from safety in numbers.

If the bombers and gunmen can see that when they do strike, opposition to what they stand for is reinvigorated and multiplied, then eventually, if they are rational, they and those who control/incite them will devise new strategies.

That's what Je suis Charlie means.


National boxing coaches, Reynold Cox and Floyd Trumpet, are intent on qualifying newly promoted senior athlete Michael Alexander to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Dubbed as one of the most successful junior boxers for 2014, Alexander captured bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, and bagged another at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Veracruz, Mexico.

Although still nursing a shoulder injury from his recent CAC stint, Alexander is hoping to be fully recovered by March as he winds down preparations ahead of three tough Olympic qualifiers.

Speaking to coach Cox, he admitted that 2015 is indeed a big year for the young pugilist.

“We definitely want to see if we can get Michael Alexander to qualify (for the 2016 Olympics),” said Cox. “His first qualifier is the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Championships (October 5-18) this year. Then there will be two other qualifiers in 2016, one in the Americas and a universal tourney as the final decider.”

Having now entered the top-flight senior division, Alexander anticipates some challenging times ahead. Cox and Trumpet are presently building their athlete towards Olympic qualification with the former pleased with his competitive prowess on both the local and international circuit thus far.

“I think it was a good year (2014) for him because we set out to get him on the podium. We did so a couple times and that was a good step for us. Michael Alexander is knocking on the door and if he maintains what he is doing right now we can see him qualifying for the Olympic Games and beyond,” added Cox.

The boxing coach indicated that he is presently building a team around Alexander in an effort to produce multiple local qualifiers for the 2020 Summer Games. He hopes that over the coming years an array of youthful boxers will be generated in an effort to expand TT’s contingent of athletes for coming international tourneys.

“To win an Olympic medal in boxing at the Olympic Games, it takes approximately four to eight years of hard training. And this is what we are trying to provide the athletes with right now. We are seeing the opportunities coming our way by getting athletes on the podium so we will continue with this kind of work and keep pushing forward. Our programme so far has been reaping good results,” he added.

He went on to note that Alexander will be their main focus for the 2016 Games while the upcoming athletes are keen prospects for other major meets. Alexander and his youthful group currently train at the elite boxing gym at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.

Cox concluded, “This year is strong year for us to also do some development in relation to women boxing. We want to get them back in to the fray. At one time we had a very strong women team and well they fell off the grid so this is an initiative we want to nurture this coming year.”


Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis called on national sporting organisations to update the way they run their organisations. He underlined that the TTOC will continue to advocate the adoption of new and proper governance structures for its affiliates.


Lewis was speaking at the 17th edition of the TTOC’s Annual Awards Ceremony at the National Academy for Performing Arts (NAPA) on Monday evening.


In his address that opened the 50-minute programme, Lewis said the TTOC and the country must engage children and young people and reach out to them to bring them to sport and show them the power of sport and the Olympic values.


“We must ensure that their inspirational role models, our athletes, are at the centre of what we do and why we do what we do,” he said. “Moreover, it is essential that we meet the integrity challenge by protecting Olympic and Commonwealth sports from the dangerous threat posed by doping, gambling, the cycle of corruption and poor governance.”


Lewis said if the sporting authorities failed to confront face these challenges, their right to self-regulate, their autonomy, legitimacy and stewardship “will be taken away from us. To whom much is given, much is expected.”


Lewis added that to start dealing with some of those concerns, the TTOC will continue in 2015 to “vigorously promote the adoption of good governance and ethics across the country’s Olympic and Commonwealth Sport movement and that we be unwavering and advocate and vigorously promote a good governance code for sport in T&T and ensure that affiliated NSOs align with the Olympic Charter and include in their constitutions basic universal principles of good governance.”


He added that the TTOC must lead from the front in championing the development of a sport industry and articulating a framework that will inform the sport policy debate.


While congratulating the successful sportsmen for the year, Lewis said sport was still on the margins of T&T society and had to compete with different interests that present a threat to healthy lifestyles.


“The responsibility to create and shape a bright sustainable future for tomorrow’s athletes and for sport on the whole falls to our generation of sport leaders, administrators, athletes and coaches. We have to modernise how we market, promote and brand Olympic and Commonwealth sport and the Olympic and Commonwealth values and ideals to the current and future generation of public, media and corporate audiences.


The climb is steep. The hurdles are high, “ Lewis stated


At her turn at the podium, TTOC Sportswoman of the Year Cleopatra delivered the feature address in which she stated Lewis’ and the TTOC’s 10 gold by 24 athlete welfare fund initiative was a realistic one once the country embarked on providing the funding, resources, technical support staff unit and environment for elite athletes now.

The career of up-and-coming wicketkeeper-batsman Nicholas Pooran has been put on hold following injuries suffered in a motor car accident.
Pooran underwent surgery yesterday after suffering a fractured left ankle and a damaged left knee in an accident in St Mary’s, near his home in Couva. Pooran was returning home from training with the national team currently preparing for next week’s Nagico Super50 regional one-day series to be staged here.
“Terrible” was the way CEO of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board, former T&T and West Indies opening batsman Suruj Ragoonath described the setback for the left-handed strokemaker who burst onto the scene with a debut half-century for the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel in the inaugural Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 tournament in 2013 as a 17 year-old.
“The situation is being monitored and our doctors are in touch with the doctor who is treating with Nicholas,” Ragoonath told the Express yesterday. He added: “The first priority is his general well-being and the second priority would be his cricket.”
Speaking briefly also yesterday, Pooran’s father Lawrence said his son was in “good spirits” ahead of the surgery. However, Pooran’s personal setback has also been a blow for the Red Force.
Already without regular wicketkeeper/batsman Denesh Ramdin due to West Indies duty, the selectors yesterday called up Steven Katwaroo to replace Pooran.
“It is a huge steback,” said Ragoonath. “Nicholas is one of the most if not the most talented young players in the Caribbean. His career was very much on the launching pad. We are hoping that there is positive news coming out of the surgery.”
Chairman of the senior selection panel Alec Burns was more philosophical about the enforced change. “We have to move on from this unfortunate incident. Our chain is as strong as our weakest link,” he said. “We would bounce back.”
He was more concerned however, about the recovery of the precocious left-hander who further marked himself down as a player of the future when he stroke 143 out of a total of 208 in a losing cause against Australia at last year’s under-19 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
“Having heard that news, it was quite devastating,” Burns said. “I immediately thought about myself when I was in an accident...We are hoping that he recovers quickly and gets healthy.” But Burns again expressed confidence in T&T’s reserve strength, noting that “young Katwaroo is an out and out keeper and he is a useful batsman, so hopefully we will be in good stead.”

NGC Red Force squad:
Rayad Emrit (Captain), Jason Mohammed (Vice-captain), Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Nicholas Sookdeosingh, Jeremy Solozano, Evin Lewis, Stephen Katwaroo, Akeal Hosein, Imran Khan, Kevon Cooper.


Medal bonus that is performance based. Life skills Coaching. Preparing  our athletes for life after Olympic level sport.

Changing the culture is never easy or simple.

Getting support for Olympic athletes  in individual and team sports in an effort to allow them to achieve sustained competitive excellence is a vital priority.

But in doing so we must communicate the interests and protect the rights of athletes.

There are a number of areas that our athletes need to be better informed about these include anti-doping,  code of conduct, their right to due process.

Also important is assisting the athletes in recognizing their right to control and protect his or her own personal name, likeness and image.

As I have said before and made it very clear when the establishment of 10 Olympic Gold medals or more by 2024 (#10golds24) Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund was announced - we have to accept that our athletes dedicate the better part of their lives to fulfilling their dreams of representing their country be it at Olympics or otherwise. They overcome obstacles and pressure despite significant odds.

The central message  is that giving matters to our athletes.

Fundraising is essential and our athletes can’t do it on their own.

They need them to focus their attention on preparing to compete against the best  in the world.

Share the dream help our athletes achieve their dream .

There is a gap between perception and reality.

The perception that our athletes are well supported and that they make large sums of money or that the government support is enough and anything more is pure greed is furthest from the truth.

What the Athlete welfare fund is attempting to do is a long standing approach in countries  with a culture of philanthropy.

There is a reality and no amount of wishful thinking will change that reality.

We are at a point in Trinidad and Tobago sport where the option of doing nothing and letting false pride stand in the way of the athlete’s best interest is not a credible option.

Multiple revenue streams are necessary if the Olympic movement is to hedge against the volatility of depending on one revenue stream.

Doing nothing or doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is a failed strategy.

The idea behind the 10 Olympic Gold medals by the year 2024 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund is simple- ESTABLISH a fund that is transparent, ethical , accountable, sustainable and dedicated to supporting athletes.

To pledge financial support email; or call 625 1285, Facebook: @trinidadandtobagoolympiccommittee, Twitter : @ttolympic

Brian Lewis


Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) and Trinidad and Tobago Commonwealth Games Association (TTCGA)

Editor's Note:  President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC), Brian Lewis, has launched a new initiative with the social media handle, #10golds24, designed to give more of the country’s athletes the opportunity to fulfill their potential. He has committed to compete in the Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon on January 25, 2015 to raise awareness for  the #10golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund and TTD$500,000 (£51,000/$79,000/€65,000).  The Fund's mission is geared towards alleviating financial hardships of  Olympic, Pan Am, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes to enable them to train, recover and compete.

Foreign-based T&T-born athletes Dexter St Louis and Rheann Chung were named the T&T Table Tennis Association (TTTTA) Senior Male and Female Players of the Year for 2014.

The announcements were made at Saturday’s annual awards ceremony hosted by the T&T Table Tennis Association (TTTTA) at the Central Indoor Regional Sports Arena at Saith Park in Chaguanas on Saturday.

St Louis secured a bronze for T&T at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Mexico, while Chung secured similar accolades at the Women’s singles, Pan American Sport Festival, Mexico City, Mexico in July; the Women’s Singles, International Table-Tennis Federation (ITTF) Latin American Championships, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (April).

Meanwhile, Aaron Wilson, 16, of Carenage Blasters and Brittany Joseph, 16 of Arima Hawks were named Junior Male and Female Players of the Year. It was reputed to be Joseph’s third Junior Players of the Year Award.

Interviewed, she said, “It’s shocking because I didn’t have such a good year this year. I wasn’t able to win as much prizes as I aimed for, but I was still able to achieve one or two of my goals.”

Wilson said his love of table tennis emerged when he realised that contact sports was not for him and he realised it was “a lot of fun to play.”

Reeza Burke, out-going president of the association said one of the major achievements for his executive was ensuring that “the mantle for representation of our national players on the senior team, being handed over to younger, more talented players. We know that in terms of long term development we are on the right track. Our focus on youth development over that past four years, have reaped rewards not only on the national scene, but also in the Caribbean. In term of challenges”