THE mother of a junior cyclist who qualified for the Junior Caribbean Cycling Championships, which took place last weekend in Bermuda, says the TT Cycling Federation (TTCF) failed him and five other cyclists who were unable to make the trip because of the TTCF’s lack of funding.
Two cyclists made the journey for the two-day event, Tarique Woods and Enrique De Comarmond, the latter of whom secured a bronze medal in the junior male time trial. Both riders paid their own airfare to attend.
Eastlyn Sankar, mother of Maurice Burnette, 18, who qualified for the event after placing second at the TTCF National Road Race Championship in June, said he and several other young cyclists were left distraught after learning last-minute they would not be able to attend the premier regional junior road cycling event.
“Since then (qualifiers) they say they had meetings and the federation supposed to organise funding, but we keep telling them to let us know early if they don’t have funding,” Sankar said. She said parents told the TTCF they would purchase tickets for their children if they had to. “Just the day before they supposed to go, Friday, the federation said they don’t have the funding and by the time we went to organise to get the tickets, it was like $19,000,” she fumed. She said they made repeated requests of the federation to sort out US visas. “They did not do that, so we had to be back and forth to Port of Spain (US embassy). We got through with a visa date for him, which is the 21st (August) and they were leaving on the 9th.”
Unable to get the visa in time, Sankar and other parents attempted to go through Canada, which she said was considerably more expensive.“The federation come last minute to say no funding and when we went to get it, we couldn’t afford to buy the tickets.”
Sankar said the situation left Burnette and several other cyclists in tears.
“The majority of them was in tears because all the while they training for that. When you make the national team, that’s supposed to be a big thing, right? And your country supposed to support you because you going to represent the red, white and black, and they not giving them no encouragement.”
TTCF president Robert Farrier was reached for comment but directed questions to TTCF racing secretary Rowena Williams who said, “everyone, including the federation is disappointed that they all could not have gone.”
Williams said Sankar could have purchased the tickets, but added “we were trying from the federation side to get the funding. We didn’t want the parents to get the tickets and spend money unnecessarily.”
“You know how funding is going for all the federations right now; we hope that in the new fiscal year, things will change. It’s really sad. We really tried for the whole team to go. It’s just heartbreaking for everybody. It’s just difficult on all sides. It’s nobody’s fault. I know she (Sankar) was upset. We all had meetings. They are finding ways to vent and nothing is wrong with that,” Williams said.