ATHLETE WELFARE & PREPARATION FUND

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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

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The last Sun­day in Jan­u­ary was the T&T In­ter­na­tion­al Marathon (TTIM).

Un­like pre­vi­ous years, the fol­low­ing Mon­day was pain­less. That is sim­ply be­cause, in my fifth marathon in a row, the prepa­ra­tion was much bet­ter. Nat­u­ral­ly, it helped that there was bet­ter sup­port both men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly this time around, un­like pre­vi­ous ef­forts.

In sum­ming it up, it was just that, a lot of sums - a lot of cal­cu­la­tion, some cal­cu­lus, and a lit­tle geom­e­try - but most im­por­tant­ly some crit­i­cal­ly per­ti­nent ad­vice from my broth­er Nigel Mark and some se­ri­ous in­tro­spec­tion on my fit­ness.

Two days of in­tense train­ing with him for over four hours was enough to make me un­der­stand, what cham­pi­on horse rac­ing train­er Glenn Mendez must en­dure when he is putting his charges through their work­outs, ahead of the Stew­ards Cup and the Gold Cup. Con­grats to him as well on his five win­ners on Sat­ur­day.

Un­like pre­vi­ous years, we gen­er­al­ly stuck to our re­lay plan, al­though we still achieved a lot more than orig­i­nal­ly planned among the usu­al sus­pects in the re­lay team of Tony Lee, Eliz­a­beth Grif­fith, An­ton La Fond, Roger Daniel, Richie Rahim (the 70-year-old who was the fastest), Cap­tain Andy Cheeks and a new­com­er Al­lan Fras­er.

Guardian Me­dia Lim­it­ed’s Sun­ny Bling and Robert Du­mas, each had ob­jec­tives and each man­aged to soul search their re­spec­tive per­son­al­i­ties to achieve their own glo­ry and while Sun­ny Bling has been a reg­u­lar over the last few years, Du­mas' run for his lov­ing dad, was both in­spi­ra­tional and emo­tion­al and proves that love over­comes near­ly every­thing even in sports.

The main man be­hind this ef­fort was the pres­i­dent of the T&T Olympic Com­mit­tee (TTOC) Bri­an Lewis, who start­ed the race from 3.30 am. His aim was to sur­pass his pre­vi­ous per­son­al best and this year, Lewis seemed to be best pre­pared to do that and the fact, that Di­anne Hen­der­son (chair­per­son of TTIM), and her team had arranged for the Pri­or­i­ty Bus Route (PBR) to be utilised traf­fic free from Curepe to Port-of-Spain, en­sured a smoother, less ob­struc­tive course. The odds cer­tain­ly were in Lewis's favour.

And when T&T’s lead­ing marathon fe­male on the day, Sjae­lan Evans, waltzed pass our group, it ap­peared that every­one was in­deed en­joy­ing the change in con­di­tions and sur­face. The ease of tran­si­tion in her stride and the smile on her face told a pic­ture of a young woman get­ting ready for some­thing greater (Lon­don Marathon).

Af­ter all of these ef­forts, one can on­ly hope that both cor­po­rate T&T and oth­er re­lat­ed per­sons would come for­ward with as­sis­tance go­ing for­ward.

As was the case last year and in pre­vi­ous years, as the race pro­gressed, it was clear that there was go­ing to be some pace on, as both Daniel and Nigel Mark seemed in­tent on 12-minute miles but by the 19 mile mark­er though that thought process and mind­set was erod­ed and re­placed by the re­al­i­ty of 14 to 15 minute miles.

This year, the one draw­back of util­is­ing the PBR was eas­i­ly re­alised, as you were not able to in­ter­act and com­mu­ni­cate with spec­ta­tors as eas­i­ly as when you are us­ing the East­ern Main Road. Hope­ful­ly go­ing for­ward the T&T pub­lic will be­come ac­cus­tomed to the new course and make their pres­ence felt.

Five years ago when Lewis con­cep­tu­alised this ven­ture to raise funds to­wards the ath­letes wel­fare and as­sis­tance dri­ve lead­ing to his 10 or more Olympic gold medals by 2024, there were many who scoffed at the idea but yet again by think­ing out­side of the box and hav­ing com­mit­ment sup­port and putting aside self-in­ter­est, Lewis and his team have changed the face of the TTOC, to­wards a more all-en­com­pass­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion than a “boys club".

So just as TTOC 's dri­ve for "The Fu­ture is Fe­male" is gen­er­at­ing nu­mer­ous plau­dits, and draw­ing at­ten­tion the lack of women in sports ad­min­is­tra­tion, let us hope more per­sons un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of such go­ing for­ward.

Per­haps, I am hope­ful that in 2020, more women come out to sup­port from all over T&T, by ac­tu­al­ly par­tic­i­pat­ing, but then as I looked at the hard­work­ing group of Na­dine Khan, Lovie San­tana, Rheeza Grant and Chanelle Young, I can see the need for not on­ly di­ver­si­ty in our sports ad­min­is­tra­tion but al­so in sports cov­er­age. Who knows the next pres­i­dent of the TTOC, could very much be a woman.

This year, it was great to have the may­or of Port-of-Spain Joel Mar­tinez and the Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Sen­a­tor Clarence Ramb­harat both com­plete the course as well. Per­haps the growth from a group of eight in 2015 to 41 per­sons this edi­tion, sug­gests the in­creas­ing buy-in of per­sons for what Lewis is striv­ing to achieve but the truth is we need more sup­port.

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