Whenever the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic passes cycling will return to the National Stadium.
President of the Barbados Cycling Union (BCU), Charles Lynch, told Barbados TODAY that the local cycling track that has produced several outstanding Barbadian cyclists was badly in need of repair. But thanks to the National Sports Council (NSC) it has been fixed.
In a telephone interview, Lynch said the cycling track that has been out of commission since 2015 is once again suitable for cycling. The NSC ground staff under the supervision of stadium superintendent Ivor Worrell cleaned it up.
“We had done some repairs to the track, it has now been cleaned again because it was in pretty bad shape. But it was cleaned again just before COVID shut down the country.
“When the schools were having inter-school sports, we actually got the track cleaned, so as soon as the athletics programme was finished we would have gone back to the track and started cycling again. We must say thanks to the National Sports Council for assisting us in that regard,” Lynch said.
Within the last decade, Barbados has hardly developed much local talent for the sport. Amber Joseph in recent times has been the lone elite female cyclist that has flown the national flag.
However, Joseph may have company on the national scene as two of Barbados’ top senior cyclists Jamol Eastmond and Edwin Sutherland who left the island and plied their trade in Trinidad and Tobago after the local cycling track went out of commission five years ago, are back on home soil.
On the BCU 2020 calendar were three major events – the Larry Williams Classic, Nationals and Caribbean Elite Road Race – but those have since been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once the pandemic passes, the BCU president said they were planning to target young riders, particularly juniors. He explained that they hoped to attract this particular category because there is a wide gap between the seniors and juniors.
“As soon as this COVID-19 came in we had some more concrete plans in the last three years to actually go back to the National Stadium on the cycling track. We had also engaged three schools where we were planning to start back our youth development programme, targeting three schools where we can actually carry some youngsters into the stadium and do a programme with them there.
“Right now in cycling we have the older category which is masters, or we have seniors but we don’t have a lot of junior riders or even below juniors which is juvenile or tiny mites. So we were trying to build back cycling in terms of starting from the base and coming up again to try and engage some young people into the sport.
“There is a fairly wide gap between seniors and almost no juniors in there to follow on. We were actually trying to start from the base again and build up. We are talking about building for five, six years down the road where we can compete at those levels both regionally and internationally,” he said.
Lynch explained that they have already taken steps to engage the Ifill School, Eden Lodge Primary, Lawrence T. Gay, and are awaiting permission from the Ministry of Education.
He added: “We had written a letter to the Ministry of Education because we can’t move children away from school to a location. And we were actually trying to piggyback off the National Sports Council who goes into the school to do sports programmes. So we had written to seek permission that we can do this as part of the sports council’s programme to say we will take the schools to the stadium location under the guidance of a coach.”
With the government relaxing restrictions for COVID-19, Lynch urged cyclists not to become complacent.
He said: “Again I am asking the cyclists in Barbados, not only the competitive cyclists in Barbados but the casual riders who are numerous in Barbados, to continue to observe the government protocols in terms of social distancing. I still see some fellows riding next to each other and that is not supposed to happen at this point in time.”