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Inside the XX Commonwealth Games: T&T seeks to boost medal haul

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Athletes chosen to represent this country at this year’s XX Commonwealth Games taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, from July 23-August 3, are better equipped to deliver medal winning performances. That is the view of Brian Lewis, president of the T&T Commonwealth Games Committee (TTCGA)/T&T Olympic Committee. Under the Commonwealth Games Federation, chapter organising committees must carry the CGA call sign. So for the duration of this tournament the TTOC name will be silent. With 43 days to go before the Games herald, Lewis said the local contingent, which was reputed to be the country’s largest in the history of the championships, would aim to better the medal haul of nine, way back in 1966. They were: five gold, two-silver and two-bronze.    


This country’s athletes will be vying for top honours in individual sports as: aquatics, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, judo, shooting, squash, table tennis, triathlon as well as track and field. 
Netball, hockey and the rugby 7s are the team sports in which T&T will be going for gold. With an estimated budget of close to $4 million, Lewis said, one of the challenges for team T&T’s was that resources were not finite and therefore there would always be situations access to more. The Sports Ministry has already put systems in place for athletes and officials to travel to and from Scotland, while the Sport Company was contributing by making the elite athletes facilities at the Hasely Crawford National Stadium and its personnel available for these preparations. Through the TTCGA’s partnership with Adidas the cost of outfitting the local team had been reduced. Meanwhile, the national sporting organisation would use their resources to cover the remainder of the bill.


Justifying our sporting value
“I am not one of those who believe that corporate T&T has any obligation. I think that it is up to the national sporting organisations and the TTOC to justify to corporate T&T, what is the value that it brings to the relationship.  “This thing where you want to bully corporate T&T, that they have to do something, I don’t see it that way. I think that the reality is, it is not about a hand-out. It is not about a dependency syndrome. It is about a partnership. I think once NSOs are able to identify what is the value they bring, justify it and deliver on their promises, I think that increasingly, over time, you would see a major transformation in the response,” Lewis said. He added: “All over the world, success drives success. That is why it is important for the TTCGA (TTOC) and the NSO and athletes and coaches that when we go into major events that we go to these games to perform, not just participate. “T&T has passed the stage of just being happy to barely qualify for and event. It’s not about going to the games for a joy ride or a vacation.” Arrangements have been put in place for pre-Games training camp for athletes associated with team sports in Scotland. They are scheduled to depart local shores between July 6-8. The challenges, he said, would be to beat the results of London 2012 (Olympics) citing it had become the new benchmark.


Training camps for team sports
Pointing to last month’s staging of the IAAF World Relays held in Nassau, Bahamas, where T&T bagged three medals: men’s 4 by 100m (silver), women’s 4 by 100m (bronze) and men’s 4 by 400m (bronze), Lewis said: “They did excellent. That’s cause for encouragement. In sports, you don’t event go into a tournament or championship expecting to failure. “I am optimistic that our athletes will do very well. From my perspective I would think track and field, cycling, swimming and boxing will be where we would have podium success. I am very interested in seeing how we do in gymnastics. “Netball as one of the team sports, we would think on paper have a chance, but the recent form does not suggest that netball would medal. Hockey–men’s and women’s–the best teams in the world are from the Commonwealth nations. So hockey would have some great difficulty getting on the podium, but what we would expect is that they improve on their performances from 2006 and 2010. You want to see the team sports a lot more competitive than they have been. I know they have prepared well.”

He added, “They are all accessing the high-performance unit in the Hasely Crawford Stadium. They are doing extremely well. They may have wanted a little bit more warm-up games. But we are having training camps for the team sports. We are focused as a Commonwealth Games Association, taking it to the next level. Our partnership with the Michael Johnson Performance Centre and BPTT plays an important role in terms of the high performance training trying to supplement and complement the training programmes the various coaches have with various athletes. It’s all about working with as a team.”


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