FINANCIAL aid is coming to the assistance of the TT cycling team.
With 12 days to go before they begin the final stage of their 2020 Olympic qualification journey, the national contingent is still in need of cycling equipment.
The Sport Company of TT (SporTT) has already pledged its commitment to cover the team’s airfare and accommodation for the forthcoming World Cups which will be staged in Hong Kong (November 29 - December 1), Cambridge, New Zealand (December 6-8) and Brisbane, Australia (December 13-15).
SporTT’s chief executive officer, Jason Williams, chairman Douglas Camacho, and technical director and team coach, Erin Hartwell, have been working assiduously to ensure the squad arrives at their destinations on time and are comfortably housed ahead of these three major qualifiers.
However, following a highly successful competitive year from TT’s track riders, much damage was done to their racing equipment.
Currently, the team still awaits funding for new equipment but remains in high spirits as they wind down preparations ahead of a hectic season.
“SporTT is assisting the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation with the airfare and accommodation for the World Cups, subject to the release of funding. We wish the team well during these events.
“Regarding the equipment, SporTT has been in contact with another government agency and we have very good hopes that the cyclists will receive all that is needed to ensure they are fully prepared,” stated Williams on Thursday.
Over the past eight weeks, Hartwell has placed great emphasis on developing TT’s World Cup representatives - Njisane Phillip, Nicholas Paul, Keron Bramble, Kwesi Browne and Quincy Alexander.
The two-time American Olympic medallist admitted that the cost of one high-quality bike frame and two wheels exceeds the US$10,000 price tag.
He however, credited the Ministry of Sport and his fellow SporTT members for providing funding for every project the team has used towards Olympic qualification thus far. Hartwell also expressed optimism that the much-needed equipment will come before the team departs en route to Hong Kong on November 20.
“To the ministry’s and SporTT’s credit, I commend their effort,” said Hartwell. “It’s expensive to travel around the world because it’s a two-year process to qualify. It’s a new fiscal year and we’re working close with the ministry. But, we’re trying not to leave it too late, fingers crossed. The right folks are aware of what needs to be done and I’m confident that we’re going to be where we need to be, come race day.”
Historically, cyclists have used their own equipment on national duty. But with an increasing influx of cycling enthusiasts to the sport, a state-of-the-art facility in Couva and a world-renowned coach at the helm, the availability of new equipment is key to providing the local riders with the best chance of securing TT’s first-ever cycling Olympic medal.
Hartwell added, “We’ve broken a bunch of equipment this year because we had a couple crashes. We’re looking to overturn some of those costs from the athletes and not having it exclusively placed on their shoulders. Right now, we’re working closely with the federation, SporTT and their funding partners to try and procure some of the equipment but, you know, there are always challenges, but we stay focussed and put our best foot forward on race day. The athletes are in good spirits.”