WITH SEVERAL of the nation’s top athletes currently nursing long-standing injuries in a crucial pre-Olympic year, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Brian Lewis

has been working assiduously towards completion of an Olympic Sports Medicine and Injury Rehabilitation Support Services Network.

Lewis, who unveiled his brainchild initiative ‘10 or more Olympic Gold Medals by 2024 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund’ in January this year, revealed that this new medical network will fall under the same umbrella.

This Support Services Network aims to facilitate elite and Olympic athletes who have sustained and/or are recovering from injury.

Although this programme has not yet been fully implemented, Lewis has already begun discussions with several medical practitioners and institutions to assist in making this idea a success. The achievement of medical insurance for TT athletes is also a primary objective through this drive.

“The TTO C and some of its stakeholder have been in talks with medical practitioners, physiotherapists, sport psychologists, massage therapists, companies that provide MRI services, to discuss with them discounted fees under this new Network,” said Lewis on Wednesday. “We also have been working together with a company called Dalian Medical Concierge Services in terms of how we could manage and make more efficient the health services that we offer the athletes, especially those striving to an elite and Olympic level.” Presently, reigning Olympic men’s javelin champion Keshorn Walcott is still finding a way to compete with a slight ankle injury, former National sprint queen Michelle Lee Ahye has been in and out of her best form due a niggling hamstring damage, ace 100m sprinter Keston Bledman is also still on the mend from a recent groin strain while Women Soca Warriors captain Maylee Attin-Johnson has been out of competition for over two months, among other ailing national sporting representatives. According to Lewis, the full and fast recovery of these athletes are critical towards TT ’s medal haul at the 2016 Summer Games.

“There have been a number of injuries that have been the subject of discussion within sport locally and it would be remiss of me and the TTO C, if we weren’t concerned also,” added Lewis.

“I would like to really get the Network Services fully up, even though we have accessed certain services within that already. But with our eyes on 2016, this is very important in my mind and has to be a priority now, and is definitely a concern.” The former Harvard Rugby Club player admitted that injury prevention is just as important, if not more, than recovery. Lewis stated that once this Network is officially set up, athletes may feel an additional sense of security and be able to perform better knowing that their career and health is being properly evaluated and managed.

“Injury prevention is just a part of it,” he continued. “When the athletes get injured, getting them to recover as fast as possible is pivotal.

As part of athlete welfare, this is a critical element. There are too many situations locally where the athletes’ access to proper medicals like MRI’s and so on are being comprised. When they are forced to face the public sector, the time line is rather lengthy from admittance to full recovery.

This compromises the athlete and is an issue that we need to address immediately.” Recently, the TTO C boss held talks with the Olympic fraternity’s High Performance partner, Michael Johnson, and a couple days ago, TT ’s four-time Olympic medallist, Ato Boldon. Lewis has been relaying his message and unique plans for athlete development throughout the local and international sporting stratosphere and also held profitable discussions with National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) president, Ephraim Serrette.