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BRIAN LEWIS, president of the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC), remembers late rugby player and cyclist Joe Brown as a tough but passionate person, both in and out of the sporting arena.

The 63-year-old Brown, and another British-born cyclist, Joanna Banks,an employee with bpTT, died on Saturday morning after a car crashed into a group of cyclists, from the Slipstream Cycling Club, on the east-bound lane of the Beetham Highway.

Brown played for the Trinidad Northerns club while Lewis was a member of GF United, which merged with the Harvard Club in 1998.

According to Lewis, “(Brown) played rugby and then he went into refereeing. He was a difficult opponent. He remained committed and supportive for a number of years.”

Lewis noted, “On the rugby field, he was a tough customer. I received some very hard knocks from him.”

Brown was the executive chef and CEO of Jaffa, which is located at the Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair.

“When he was no longer an active player, he became very active in the referee society,” Lewis added. “He was always a fitness person, going different events. He really enjoyed cycling.”

The TTOC president said, “I always met him, whether it was at Solimar or at Jaffa (restaurants). He was always a no-nonsense person, but you always knew where you stood with him. He was very opinionated but passionate about Trinidad and Tobago.

“He came here on assignment, as a chef, he fell in love with Trinidad and Tobago, (its) life and lifestyle and, at times, I found him more passionate, patriotic and optimistic about Trinidad and Tobago than most Trinbagonians.”

Lewis mentioned, “I remembered recently he was talking about (how) he’d be happy to contribute to raising funds for the Team TTO Athlete and Welfare Preparation Fund, by doing something, at a figure that would have allowed the TT Olympic Committee to do well. I know many persons have spoken about his generosity.”

The TTOC boss continued, “He always found time and made time to keep himself fit and physically active. It was very difficult that he and Banks – bpTT being a sponsor of the TTOC – were doing something that they were passionate about. I offer condolences on behalf of the Olympic Committee to Brown’s family.”

The deaths of Brown and Banks have sparked debate over whether riders should be allowed on major roadways in TT.

Lewis said, “There are too many people on the road who have a resentment and an anger about cyclists, runners and walkers using the road. I think that’s something I hope we get our mindset changed, the respect for the users of the road.”