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T&T Olympian homeless

NATASHA BECKLES, [email protected]

T&T Olympian homeless

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TWO-TIME Trinidad and Tobago 110 metre hurdles Olympian Mikel Thomas, has been kicked out of his Florida apartment and forced to abruptly end his 2014 competitive season due to the unavailability of Elite Athlete Assistance Programme (EAAP) funds from the Ministry of Sport.
Ironically, Thomas received an email with the eviction notice from his landlord approximately three weeks ago, while en route to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Speaking from his family’s home in New York yesterday, where he has been forced to take up temporary residence after returning from national duty last week, Thomas told Newsday he has not received funds from the EAAP since May 2013. The EAAP was designed to help Trinidadian athletes prepare for major international meets by defraying costs for supplements, training and accommodation. 
“My situation has not improved in any way and I have been forced out my apartment. I can’t make preparations for next season because of a lack of support and the amount of debt I am now in because of it,” an upset Thomas said.  “I did not have money and was unable to renew my lease. My rent was US$450 per month. I am at a point where even if I get a job now, it [the money] wouldn’t be enough. The time and commitment of being an elite athlete, makes it hard to continue. I have received no notification from the Ministry of Sport as to when funds will be available. I am in my physical prime yet because of no support from my country, I am at the point where I am considering leaving athletics,” Thomas said.  The 26-year old, who holds the national 110m record of 13.19 seconds, said he still desires to continue to train, compete and represent the red, white and black. But without financial assistance, this is near impossible, at least at an elite level. Thomas has even given up his car to cut his expenses and is using a bicycle as his main mode of transportation. Thomas said he is not the only TT athlete having problems with accessing Elite funding. He said other athletes while receiving funds, have not been given the full amount. The excuse for this, when athletes visited the Sport Ministry, was a miscalculation by someone.  Thomas last contacted the Sport Ministry in June and was told, “funds are unavailable.” No explanation was forthcoming as to why there was no funding available.  At the recently concluded Commonwealth Games, he placed fourth in his heat and thus did not advance to the semi-final stage of the 110m hurdles. He believes the email from his landlord stating he was evicted, had a negative impact on his mind set going into the race.  “I don’t think I was able to have the same mentality this year. It was a struggle each race and the pressure to have to run to make some money to eat…it took away from the joy of the sport and where you need to be. It became a weight and a cloud.  “Commonwealth was a bad race but we prepare to where our worst is better than the rest, or good enough to see another day. I wasn’t able to prepare that way this year,” said an unhappy Thomas.  Up to late yesterday evening, Thomas revealed that he is still trying to hold firm, despite his world crumbling down.