Trinidad and Tobago’s sailor Andrew Lewis is focused on being physically and mentally prepared for the fast-approaching Olympic Games, scheduled for Tokyo in 2020, as he meticulously choreographed his plans for the season ahead. Lewis, coming off an historic performance at the 2019 Hempel World Cup Series in Genoa where he copped the bronze medal in the Men’s Laser event, will be looking to channel his form into another Olympic berth.
Speaking to members of the media at the second instalment of SporTT’s #ReturnToTokyo series at the National Cycling Centre in Couva, Lewis said, “I would like to use this year, heading into the Olympic Games, to continue building this nice pathway to Tokyo with the people believing in me and, at the same time, stimulate Trinidad and Tobago’s support behind the sport of Sailing."
Lewis has been sailing since he was seven years old and, in 2012, he became the first sailor to represent Trinidad and Tobago at an Olympic Games in the Men’s Laser Class. In 2016, he displayed a courageous and inspiring return to competition, having recovered from a life-threatening accident in December 2015, representing T&T again at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The World Cup Series bronze he claimed in April 2019 was the nation’s, and more broadly, the Caribbean’s first World Cup medal within the sport of sailing. In 2017, Lewis started his Olympic campaign by analysing his needs and mapped out the checkpoints required to gain an Olympic berth and put himself in medal contention at the 2020 Games.
Over the last 18 months, Lewis admitted to trying various tactics including self-training to stimulate his athleticism, but the sailor noted that all his solo efforts amounted to little without a coach. It was when Lewis appointed Javier Hernandez, a two-time Olympian from Spain, that he noticed a significant impact in his techniques and results. Lewis proudly confessed to breaking four of his personal records and secured his highest ranking thus far under the tutelage of his new coach, within the past year, and is anticipating continued success based on the strategies they have moving forward.
“Javier was instrumental over the past year and the success of the medal at the World Cup was the result of hard work and proper guidance,” Lewis stated. He continued, “You have got to practice these types of races because there is only so much reading and watching you can do.” Lewis detailed the experience which comes from being out on the water is unlike any other and 'getting the feel' of the wind is very important. He stated, "Having a coach to map out wind speeds and water currents is conducive in understanding the tactics and techniques when competing."
The 2019 World Cup Series bronze medallist admitted he only trains 30 days for the year at home in T&T because it is very easy to create bad habits and lose focus. He admitted that training in T&T may also compromise his development due to highly competitive nature for the sport of sailing. As such, Hernandez created a training group with Lewis and a couple other sailors from around the world to enhance the competitive environment for them as good racing and constructive criticism usually leads to improved results.
Lewis plans to increase his total body mass, to practice in strong winds in his training base in Tenerife, Spain as well as to compete in more medal races within the coming months. He laid emphasis on the importance of being within a competitive environment in order to raise his standard, race fitness and understanding logistics in medal races.
With this in mind, Lewis anticipates he will sail in at least three of the five upcoming medal events scheduled in the 2019/2020 season. He will be looking to secure a spot for Trinidad and Tobago in Tokyo by qualifying through some of these events including the 2019 Pan American (Pan Am) Games in Peru and the World Cup Series in Miami where a single Olympic berth would be available for the taking.