TEAM TTO chef de mission Lovie Santana says national athletes demonstrated an "indomitable spirit" to stay the course throughout 2020, proving that not even a pandemic could prevent them from representing TT and realising their personal goals.
Santana, a long-time administrative officer at the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC), with previous experience leading Team TTO's at global sporting events, praised the athletes' resilience.
The TTOC opened a 100-day countdown to the Tokyo Olympics at its Port of Spain office on Wednesday.
"Athletes worldwide, including our own Team TTO, have had to confront the pandemic face-on," Santana said, "together with the accompanying disruption it has caused to their potential participation at the globe's most coveted and high-profile multi-sport event.
"For the athletes, whose life-long dream has been to represent their countries on the world's premier sporting stage, the last year has evoked three of their greatest traits: courage, sacrifice and resilience."
She said Team TTO's athletes employed these characteristics and "combined them with endurance and commitment to persist in the pursuit of their athletic objectives..."
Had it not been for the pandemic, most athletes would have had pre-Olympic competitions and preparation events to maintain their form.
Being unable to do so, coupled with the one-year postponement of the Olympics, athletes would naturally have experienced a degree of anxiety about their ability to perform at their best when the time does come.
"But despite a disrupted training and competition calendar," Santana said, "our athletes have demonstrated an indomitable spirit to ensure that not even a global pandemic can prevent them from representing their countries and realising their lofty sporting goals.
"They have persevered through ever-changing qualification procedures, through compromised access to training facilities because of local and international covid19 restrictions and guidelines and through dwindling resources to make this trip to Japan.
"Team TTO athletes have displayed, through their perseverance, the true spirit and will – the best features of the Trinidad and Tobago people – to overcome despairing odds.
"We at the TTOC have been amazed by our athletes’ dedication through these very trying times and have continued to lend support to our athletes' Olympic goals through our various programmes.
"Along with guidance from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo (Local) Organising Committee, the TTOC will also ensure that the safety and health of our team is also protected as much as possible."
Santana and former national volleyball player Rheeza Grant were given roles as Team TTO's protocol officers responsible for ensuring the contingent's compliance with covid19 regulations, specific to Japan and the Olympic Games.
Santana said she looks forward to the release of the IOC's updated playbooks, scheduled for later this month, which the world governing body described as a "collective game plan to ensure that all Olympic and Paralympic Games participants and the people of Tokyo and Japan are safe and healthy this summer."