Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis has urged National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) to broaden their outlook for talent identification in an effort to increase the number of sporting disciplines we compete in on a global scale.
Lewis made these remarks following the successful 2016 Olympic qualification of super heavyweight boxer Nigel Paul, who gave up a life of basketball to get into the ring.
The TTO C boss also drew reference to former national water polo player Christopher George, who is currently fists away from becoming this nation’s first ever representative at a Summer Games in the sport of judo.
“When you bring an athletes’ experience, athleticism and ability from one sport to the other, the learning curve, depending on the particular sport, is not as steep as it would have been,” said Lewis yesterday. “It alerts the NSOs, in certain disciplines, that they have to broaden their outlook for talent identification.
I think it is something that points the way to an approach I think can do very well for Trinidad and Tobago.” According to the ex-Harvard rugby representative, several developed nations have adopted and implemented programmes which assist sportsmen/women through an easy transitional process from one sport to the other.
He believes that this particular concept of talent identification is needed locally, keeping in to consideration the competitive diversity of nationals both at home and abroad.
“Nigel used to play basketball and is six foot four inches and was 325 pounds. And for whatever reason that he decided to box, he fits the attributes that you need for a superheavyweight.
While it may be a bit of a surprise to people, it would not have surprised his coach (Floyd Trumpet) because he knew what he was looking for and Paul had it (in him).
Nations such as Australia and the United Kingdom have used such strategies where they identify the attributes that you need for a particular sport or discipline,” he added.
Lewis also remains optimistic towards the introduction of a long-term athlete development programme or pathway, one which systematically facilitates late specialisation in sport. He admitted however, that the general structure of sport does not always work in the favour of potential athletes who are forced to stick to one discipline.
“I think there are some other sports that we can talent identify in. Because of the way we have sport structured, you find that there is a bit too much early specialisation. By early specialisation, we are really doing some athletes and some of the potentials, a disservice.
Once we get a plan such as this in place, I think that we would have more of these type of things (success from switching sports) happening because it allows for late developers,” he continued.
In conclusion, the local Olympic head applauded TT ’s most recent Olympic qualifier, 38-year-old Aisha Chow, who booked a historic spot in the sport of rowing. Although US-based, Chow will fly the red, white and black alongside fellow nationals in the sports of swimming (George Bovell), cycling (Njisane Phillip), boxing (Nigel Paul), sailing (Andrew Lewis) and track and field.
Lewis is also hoping to, within the coming months, secure the qualifications of Geoge (judo), Dylan Carter (swimming), Roger Daniel (shooting), Michael Alexander and Aaron Prince (boxing), Daneil Williams and Fabien Whitfield (beach volleyball) and rugby sevens (women).