Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) President Brian Lewis is hopeful that pledges will be honoured after he and his team of supporters successfully completed the 36th edition of the Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon (TTIM) today, January 21st, in support of the TeamTTO #10Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund.

After the 3:30 am start at St Mary’s Junction in Freeport, approximately 20 walkers completed the gruelling 26.2-mile event, crossing the finish line at the Queen’s Park Savannah in support of the TTOC ‘Walk the Talk’ initiative, which is one of the main fundraisers for the TeamTTO Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund.

It was an especially difficult journey for Lewis who has been battling with the flu. The TTOC President, who completed the course in just under six hours and 35 minutes said the trek was tough, particularly along the Eastern Main Road, but he was encouraged by the support from his team and spectators along the route.

“I was determined to finish it as the cause is really about the athletes. I have to admit there were times out there when I questioned my sanity. The last couple of miles I had to repeatedly tell myself that the objective was to just finish. We got a good reception from people on the road and it helped to encourage me along the way.”

Lewis was also grateful to the Marathon Committee as well as other TTOC partners and supporters for joining with them for the worthy initiative.

Media personality and cultural partner Kerron ‘Sunny Bling’ Sealy was among the first TTOC supporters to finish the race.
“I am proud to complete the race for another year. I’m a proud supporter of TeamTTO because I’m a Trinbagonian. I represent for the culture as well. As an entertainer, I know we have to build what we have. I also think, personally, this is the hardest physical thing I could possibly do in any year. The fact that it happens at the beginning of the year, gives me a certain mental strength. Once I can complete this now, there is nothing I can’t complete for the year.”

Rain in the latter half of the race did not dampen the resolve of the group with many including i955FM’s Andre Baptiste seeing it as a blessing, offering up cooler conditions.
“Today was another tough day courtesy of Brian Lewis,” Baptiste laughed, “but the rain helped the situation during the difficult periods, particularly for me who hadn’t trained at all!”

“Roger Daniel was my companion for most of the race until I saw Brian Lewis. When I saw him, it gave me incentive to go a little faster. I didn’t catch him in the end but I think it was an enjoyable day; and it’s all for a good cause. We hope 2019, 2020, and onwards, more and more people would come and participate,” Baptiste added.

Daniel, a national shooter, said it was intense but as an athlete he understood how essential the fundraising effort was.
“As you know, finances are so short and we really need the help. There are many athletes who are just sacrificing, making the time, training hard but they just don’t have the financial assistance to make it. When people see us doing this, they commit to contributing, so that is why we love doing it as well.”

Another duo who helped each other out on road was Tobago House of Assembly Secretary of Sport and Youth Affairs Assemblyman Jomo Pitt and Caribbean Airlines Captain and former rugby player Andy Cheekes. Both agreed that while the walk was challenging and even “torturous” at times, they were happy to support TeamTTO athletes.

Pitt noted that he would love to see more former, current and emerging athletes involved in the walk next year.

Meanwhile, Hillan Morean, Deputy Mayor of Port of Spain who joined the group along the route said causes such as this are important as sporting bodies can no longer rely solely on government subventions.

“It’s about time that we start to develop more models that could support our athletes. Yes, the government does have a role to play; however, it is time that more individuals, more private organizations come on board with the initiative to give our athletes that sustainable support. If it is one thing that brings a lot of prestige to Trinidad and Tobago, is when we succeed in sports. We have a lot of talent and it is about time we start to support that talent.”

Other TeamTTO supporters who took part in the Marathon included i955FM’s Tony Lee and Elizabeth Griffith; Republic Bank Managing Director and President of Republic Financial Holdings Ltd Nigel Mark Baptiste, former national footballers Clayton Morris and Dexter Skeene; Tribal Caribbean General Manager Dale Lutchman; former national rugby captain Curtis Nero; Ag. Commanding Officer of the T&T Coast Guard, Commander Don Polo; Richie Rahim, Anton Lafond, Keith Lashley; Harvard Club rugby players Tariq Cheekes, Joseph Quashie, Calon Reid and Aasan Lewis as well as sports tourism consultant Samuel Sankar who rode along the route ensuring the team was hydrated with fruit and water.

Members of the public can still show their support for TeamTTO and the #10Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund by making a direct contribution at Scotiabank via account number 171188.

Editor’s Note: The TeamTTO #10Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund was established in 2015. It provides financial assistance to Trinidad and Tobago athletes to help with preparation for major competitions, direct support and subsistence, health and accident insurance as well as the provision of medal bonuses. This year marked the 4th walk in support of the Fund.