...as #10golds24 bandwagon gets rolling

It’s only natural to be suspicious of Brian Lewis’ motives. This is a country where walking the talk isn’t a priority, especially among public figures. So when the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) fulfilled his stated commitment to walking the marathon distance last week Sunday in launching a fund-raising effort targeting the next three Summer Olympic Games, it was time to take notice.


First of all, what planet is this fella on? I mean, in our history of Olympic participation going back 66-plus years, there are only two gold medals to show for it. Granted, the second came at the last edition in London in 2012, but to suggest that Keshorn Walcott’s out-of-the-blue triumph in the javelin could be the trigger for an avalanche (for us) of golden success in 2016, 2020 and 2024 is like the Prime Minister believing this latest matter surrounding the Attorney General will merely blow over after nine days or so.


Anyway, as utterly ludicrous as it sounds, the TTOC boss has already managed to snare some big-name corporate support, with the Guardian Group igniting the flame of private sector interest to the tune of $250,000. I actually thought it was a misprint when the information appeared in the media a week ago. Surely it was $25,000 and not a quarter-of-a-million dollars. Four others have since come on board, although their contributions are yet to be publicly disclosed.


Maybe Lewis should try selling snake oil in his spare time, or bags of party ice cubes to the Inuit of northern Canada. But his biggest coup, so far, was to get Hasely Crawford to sprint onto the bandwagon in pursuit of this ambitious, audacious project.


Anyone with even a passing interest in the life and times of the nation’s first Olympic gold medallist would be aware of his increasing bitterness and deepening sense of hurt over the manner in which he has been treated by successive governments and the general public since beating Jamaica’s Don Quarrie to the 100-metre finish line in Montreal, in 1976.


We can debate long into the night whether or not Crawford’s angst is justified. But right or wrong, it doesn’t change the fact that the man has been vex like hell for all sorts of different reasons for almost 40 years. So for him to announce that his Olympic gold medal and the gear he wore for that historic occasion is to be leased to the TTOC in support of the #10golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund – that’s the official name of the project – is almost as unexpected as Anand Ramlogan being contrite and apologetic about anything.


So what’s really at play here? Granted that as an insurance salesman he would know a thing or two about making an effective pitch, but how does he attract so much significant backing so soon when most administrators in other sports have struggled for years to garner even a fraction of that support?


As we know only too well, credibility is at the very heart of the problem when it comes to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association, custodians of our most popular sport, to the extent that potential benefactors prefer to pay third parties to manage the money rather than let it go to the TTFA directly.


There are three things we claim to crave but really only demand it of others, not ourselves: integrity, transparency and accountability. Could it be that Lewis has convinced enough important people that he is prepared to abide by those three musketeers of effective, progressive governance in pursuit of a dream? If so, he has established for himself a dizzyingly high standard, one that very, very few are prepared to be held up against for at least the next nine years.


Will we even remember this ideal of ten golds by 2024 after the flame of the Games of that year is extinguished? What measurable difference will it make anyway to basic issues like quality of life or higher ideals like a sense of nationhood should the goal be attained or surpassed?


Whether or not you choose to remain sceptical or prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt, Brian Lewis has put himself out there in a manner few of us are willing to do. As encouraging as the early signs are, he must know that it only takes one false move for the whole thing to come crashing down around him. Rest assured, there are some willing the venture of fail for nothing more than narrow, selfish motives.


So stay on the fence if you will, but unless he is exposed as a crook, a thief and a charlatan, I am prepared to get on board for an exercise that could only be for the good of the country.