I first met Derek Walcott, who died on March 20, in the late 1960s when we both worked as reporters at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Evening News in my native Trinidad.
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It’s all about the athletes
Sport in Trinidad and Tobago is facing some significant challenges and the challenges will not be overcome if they remain unappreciated. Talk to the athletes and you get one perspective. Speak to the administrators and you get another. Who is right and who is wrong?
Priority ought to be given to the athletes’ perspective. They are the ones who have to deliver the performances. They are the flag bearers. From the community level right through to the elite level it’s the participants and athletes who matter most.
Last week’s column spoke about a national sport strategy.
Recently the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) together with its high-performance partners Michael Johnson Performance and bpTT held a high-performance workshop.
In addition, MJP performance coach and specialist Drew Cuffee was based at the Sport Company Elite Development Unit (EDU) for three weeks.
Tobias Ottley, the executive manager of the EDU, brings a refreshing open-mindness to the public sector landscape. His willingness to have the TTOC and MJP at the EDU is appreciated.
However, notwithstanding the best efforts of all concerned. It is very clear that high performance in T&T has a long way to go and there is a credible reason why many of our current world-class athletes seek foreign help and interventions.
Simple suggestions were not embraced by those who should be more than happy to improve. The attitude that we know and have the answers isn’t borne out by results. This is not to say that foreign help and interventions are a panacea or the only approach.
What is clear is that it has worked for some national athletes and can work for more of our athletes and team sports and that in the lead up to Rio 2016 it will be a difference maker.
Our world-class athletes know the truth and their actions speak for themselves. Sport organisations such as the TTOC must listen to our athletes especially those who have the inner hunger and desire to be the best in the world.
In the high-performance environment accountability, effectiveness and efficiency are not slogans.
The Michael Johnson Performance workshop and three-week stay working on the ground, exposed deficiencies that must be addressed. Fortunately they are not all big-money items but simple attitudinal and mindset changes.
Meeting the expectations of our athletes is the priority. In this respect we must listen hard to what they say.
We can develop and produce World and Olympic champions on a consistent basis and as a matter of course.
What is holding us back?
What is the policy framework?
There is no need to reinvent the wheel.
Best prepared best planned.
The right support at the right time .There are organisations with a proven track record of delivering high-performance success.
We have no other option but to learn from them.
In a very real sense refraining from addressing the issues will place our athletes in a disadvantageous position.
The time has come for honest talk among those who are positioned to make decisions that will either impact our athletes negatively or positively.
Every organisation involved in local sport must face the music and critically examine themselves.
There are people who seem more than happy to talk down other individuals and organisations. You hear repeated some very unhelpful and unfair statements that can’t have any other objective but to create obstacles.
I am not sure what are the motives but what I am sure about is that our athletes are very clear about what must be done.
Hard decisions have to be made.
Editor’s note: Brian Lewis is the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee.