JOEL BAILEY and STEPHON NICHOLAS
THE National Track Championships 2019 is currently providing heated action at the National Cycling Centre (NCC) in Couva, with the nation's top riders competing for honours. The heat, however, seems to be amplified with the non-functioning air-conditioning leaving the venue "humid as a rainforest," according to one individual present.
Speaking to Newsday yesterday, Sports Minister Shamfa Cudjoe said the AC system is expected to be repaired by the end of August, or even earlier.
The Minister made this promise during an interview at the Mucurapo West Secondary School.
The news, however, might put a spoke in the wheel of organisers of the annual PSL Cycling Club Class One Fire on Wheels competition. At the launch last month, PSL Club CEO Desmond Roberts said this year’s event, scheduled for June 1-2, might be shifted from the NCC to the Arima Velodrome as a result of the AC problem.
With his event pedalling off in three weeks, Roberts is keeping his fingers crossed.
"I'm still hoping I can have it at the National Cycling Centre because you have to take a lot of things into consideration – like the weather," Roberts said as he noted the Arima venue was not enclosed. "You don't want the cyclists to pay their airfare and come down here and they cannot race because of the weather conditions."
Roberts said the Couva facility, built by Shanghai Construction Group, was not maintained properly.
"The management team for the Cycling Centre did not do a proper job after the Chinese left," he said. "They did not take that time to do the understudy from the Chinese to make sure they do their job properly."
Asked yesterday what was being done to rectify the AC issue, Cudjoe responded, “The Cycling Velodrome is under (the purview of the Sports Company of TT) and I know very well that SporTT has done assessments.”
She continued, “We’re looking at having these works completed definitely by August, maybe sooner. But I know that the process has started as it relates to getting the work done, the assessments made, the site visits made, and everything is being organised.”
Cudjoe said that there is a problem concerning the maintenance of major sporting venues throughout the country.
“We have a challenge with properly maintaining facilities throughout TT, Government after Government. We have limited funds, so we’re doing our best with the little that we have and we’re trying to give the Cycling Velodrome that attention.”
Speaking to Newsday, TT Cycling Federation boss Robert Farrier said he was happy to learn the AC would be fixed by August. Farrier said the AC situation has been troublesome for quite some time at the Balmain venue.
"There has always been an issue to get it at the right temperature."
The cycling boss said ideally the temperature should be between 25-28 degrees Celsius.
Although there is a concern about the temperature at the NCC, Farrier said he has been to world class venues in Mexico and Australia which were more humid.
"To be honest, I have been in velodromes warmer than that (but) it might be abnormal for the average person. It would be uncomfortable for spectators who don't understand what it takes for athletes to compete at that level."
Farrier explained that high humidity and high temperature are ideal for speed. He noted, however, that it is important to get the right balance whereby cyclists can ride fast and spectators can be comfortable.
Also addressing repair work at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Cudjoe is looking forward to its completion.
She said, “I’m happy with the progress we’ve made at the Dwight Yorke Stadium. Out of the different stadia across the nation, we decided to work at Dwight Yorke (Stadium) first, and we would have seen (phases) one and two completed. We are now onto doing works relating to lighting and some of the lighter aesthetic issues.
“The Tobago House of Assembly and the other stakeholders in Tobago are already utilising the stadium for school sports and football competition. I’m glad that it’s open again and up and running for youths. We want to complete the works very soon. I’m pleased with the works that’s coming along.”