BASED ON the understood qualification process and world rankings as of Saturday, Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis is confident that TT’s bobsleigh team will be confirmed as a participant at next month’s Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
The TTOC awaits final confirmation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and was scheduled to receive such correspondence on Sunday. When Newsday spoke to Lewis on Sunday afternoon, he had not yet received the good news.
Lewis, however, expressed optimism that TT’s bobsleigh team of Olympic hurdler Mikel Thomas, track sprinter Andre Marcano, Axel Brown, John brothers Shomari and Shakeel and coach Tom Harris would secure their berth at the Winter Games.
He said the IOC confirmation should arrive by Tuesday, for the latest.
“While we are awaiting official confirmation, the TTOC is progressing arrangements based on where we are on the ranking," said Lewis. "All the information we have before us, at the level of the TTOC, is that the Team TTO bobsleigh team, is set to be confirmed as having qualified.
“I have no doubt in my mind that that red, white and black bobsleigh, barring unforeseen circumstances, will make its return to the Winter Olympics in February.”
Lewis said, based on the rankings after their final set of qualifier meets, TT is among the top 19 ranked nations listed and is in line to be featured in bobsleigh at the Games after a 20-year hiatus.
The last time TT competed in men’s bobsleigh at this level was back in 2002 in Salt Lake City, United States. TT however, made its Winter Games bobsleigh debut in 1994 at Lillehammer, Norway and its second appearance in Nagano, Japan, four years later.
Lewis added, “When you look at the traditional powerhouse nations, you have to acknowledge, notwithstanding the lateness of the effort, we have done well based on the current rankings.”
Upon receipt of IOC confirmation, Lewis said the TTOC will have a deadline to submit relevant information to its parent body agreeing to participate at the Games. An opportunity, he said, too good to give up.
“The TTOC will not turn down the opportunity to compete. So we have had to pre-plan certain logistics. We had to act as if the team, based on the rankings, realistically, would qualify,” he said.
Lewis confirmed that travel arrangements to Beijing among other accommodations have already been put in place. Currently, TTOC members Lovie Santana and Rheeza Grant have been designated as the team’s chef de mission and covid19 liaison officer.
The pair served in similar roles for TT’s Olympic delegation at last year’s Tokyo Games.
Lewis encouraged nationals, home and abroad, to continue reaching to new heights and highlighting TT’s extensive sporting diaspora on the world stage.
He hopes to see new ideas and initiatives built and implemented to aid foreign-based nationals pursuing sporting success under the TT banner.
“The TTOC is not reluctant to support this," said Lewis. What we would not be supportive of, is not having a programme in place because times have changed.
“You want to see a level of commitment to a programme that includes short, medium and long term. And not where it is seen as a convenient way to achieve any individual dreams.
“I’ve never been about insularity so we have to be open-minded. Whatever conduit legitimately within the roles and the Olympic charter that facilitates and creates a pathway for Olympic dreams being achieved, the TTOC will stand squarely in that corner,” he concluded.
The Winter Games will take place from February 4 to 20.