TT’s first-ever female Olympic-bound cyclist, Teniel Campbell believes her country has a natural ability to generate a consistent supply of high quality cyclists.
The Italy-based rider insists early talent identification and the implementation of comprehensive programmes, supported by a committed coach/staff and with the availability of the world-class National Cycling Centre, sets a strong foundation for success from TT’s promising talents.
In an interview with Italian online cycling magazine Suiveur – Beyond the Race on Tuesday, Campbell stated that TT has the power to churn out many cycling talents but admitted proper leadership and management was critical towards maximising the rewards.
“There are many talents: boys and girls who, if spurred on and dropped into the right reality, could reach any goal. They could become legendary, they could continue to carry the Olympic torch for TT over the years. They only need someone who inspires them, who explains to them that everything is really possible in life and that you should never give up, for no reason,” she said.
The 22-year-old is one of TT’s first two female professional cyclists (with Alexi Costa) and currently represents Italian women’s pro cycling club, Valcar Travel & Service. Campbell joined the club in late 2019 and recorded a mesmerising start to her competitive pro debut by placing third at the Vuelta CV Féminas in Spain in early February.
Although her cycling journey has now begun to flourish, the road rider is already planning on returning home to give back to TT’s future cycling prospects.
“I, one day, would like to return to my country and be a source of inspiration for (her fellow TT cyclists). Because it is one thing to say that everything can be done, it’s another is to show it. I would like to be a person able to show it, acquiring the necessary skills in this process to help them achieve their goals,” she added.
Prior to her selection to the Italian team, Campbell rode for club Perfection Services Limited (PSL) on the local circuit and is a four-time Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games medallist. She has also been a dominant force on the local road circuit.
Campbell’s older brother, Akil (PSL), is also a multiple national champion and has represented TT several times on the regional and international stage. She credits Akil for playing an inspirational role in her overall development but also highlighted her time spent training at the World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Switzerland as a pivotal factor in her development.
“My brother is everything. I believe that without him many things would not have been the same. But changing the country often means changing the way you approach sport and competitions. In Switzerland I learned a lot: the complete dedication to a goal, concentration, a sort of continuous focus on what you want to achieve until you can,” said the lanky road racer.
She continued, “We were all girls from different countries (at WCC), one opposite the other. We tried to understand each other and where verbal language did not arrive, non-verbal language arrived: glances, glances, pats on the shoulders and gestures. The distance from the family united us. Our parents and family members were distant, they could not support us. So we had to be a foothold for each other. We had to take courage from each other.”
Additionally, Campbell (T) was scheduled to make her Olympic debut this year in Tokyo, Japan before it was suspended due to the global coronavirus pandemic. But with the new date set of July 23 to August 8, 2021, set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday, she remains eager to compete alongside the world’s best on the biggest sporting stage.
“The Olympic Games has always been a point of arrival," she said. "From an early age, it has meant a lot. After all, it’s the crowning achievement of a dream for all athletes.
"Being there would be really important for me: for the efforts that I made and that I continue to put in place every day, for my career, for my land that would be represented and for my family. They, my family members, have always believed in me even when I was nobody. I owe you,” she concluded.