The medal bonus for Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil will be US$10,000 for an individual gold medal, US$8,000 for silver and US$5,000 for bronze.

While in the relay it will be US$20,000 for gold, US$15,000 for silver and US$10,000 for the relay bronze. Many people have focused on track and field in the context of the relay but the relay bonus will also apply for swimming and the team sprint in cycling.

Given that the concept of a medal bonus was only introduced for the first time in T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) history for this year’s Toronto Pan American Games what some consider to be a hefty increase in the dollar amount for the Olympics has come as a surprise.
The Olympic Games is the pinnacle event in world sport. Winning an Olympic gold medal and becoming an Olympic champion is the dream.

The TTOC, as the sole and exclusive authority and rights holder for the Olympics and all multi sport events sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), must set the tone in respect of ensuring that both the intrinsic and extrinsic prestige, status and reality of the accolade of Olympic champion is maintained.

Some 10,500 athletes will travel to Rio with the dream of climbing the podium to receive one of the 305 medals up for grabs. Great acheivements don’t usually just happen, they start with ambitious goals. At the TTOC we must proudly set ambitious goals knowing that in doing so we will defy history.

There are larger nations with larger population numbers and more money to spend and they are prepared to invest millions of dollars in preparation, innovation, technology and the success of their athletes and teams for Olympic podium success. And as such there are many who feel that setting a medium term goal of 10 or more Olympic gold medals by the year 2024 is a fantasy.

But those who doubt that the quest for Olympic gold is a serious pursuit are undervaluing firstly the enormous potential and talent of the athletes in T&T. The Olympic Games is the World’s biggest sporting event. T&T in winning to date 18 Olympic medals since making its Olympic debut in 1948 has shown the Olympic world that the twin-island republic with a population of 1.3 million that we can shine on the big stage.

T&T can build on those 18 Olympic medals. We have in T&T, athletes who are brave, ambitious and talented. What they need is the support of those who sincerely believe in them. The 10 to 15 years that it takes to develop into an Olympic or world champion is a journey.

Just as the athlete is required to show fortitude, resilience, perseverance, courage and an indomitable will and determination, the same characteristics must be shown by those who profess to care about our athletes. There are those who underestimate the support that is needed and question the investment required.

That the country and the people of T&T are the beneficiaries of the patriotic efforts of our sportsmen and women is or should by now be unquestioned. Our elite sportsmen and women make incredible personal and career sacrifices in service of T&T.

The two Olympic gold medals won by T&T at the prestigious Olympic Games united the twin-island republic. The positive image and inspiration and motivational vibes touched children, youth and young people across communties, race, religion and class barriers.

• Brian Lewis is the President of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee. Support #10Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund make your donations to any branch of Scotiabank account 171188 . The NLCB Going for Gold Instant Money Game is dedicated to supporting the Olympic Dream.

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