MADONNA Wheelers head coach Gregory D’Andrade credited the club’s weekly Saturday morning development programme as the driving force behind three of its members being selected to contest the Junior Pan American Track Cycling Championships in Mexico from May 31 – June 6.
After two legs of TT Cycling Federation assessment meets at the National Cycling Centre in Couva, on April 16 and 23, Madonna Wheelers’ Phoebe Sandy, Makayla Hernandez and Raul Garcia produced commendable performances in their respective sprint trials and were selected to the TT national team.
Also securing a place on the national squad was Arima Wheelers’ pair Devante Lawrence and Ryan D’Abreau. The latter is also the only junior national to book a spot for TT at the Junior World Track Cycling Championships in September.
On the progression of his three prospects, D’Andrade credited the many years of hard work put in by the riders and previous club coaches, particularly current assistant coach Kirt Cunningham.
One year ago, D’Andrade was appointed the club’s new coach. He, however, hailed the works of Cunningham and other club members as critical to the youngsters’ athletic growth over the years.
“Our club usually hosts a Saturday morning development programme. These children come from the development stage coming up.
From nine years of age, they have been riding with the club.
“They are grassroots members and these weekly sessions have played an important role in getting them where they are today. They are products of this programme.
I took them over last year to get them ready for the Pan Am and take them to another level,” he said.
D’Andrade remains hopeful that the selection of Sandy and Hernandez can inspire a return of more young women into local cycling.
Over the past couple of years, only Olympic-bound road cyclist Teniel Campbell and US-based Alexi Costa have stood the test of time among the women. Both have gone on to become TT’s first-ever women’s pro cyclists, with Campbell being the first national female cyclist to secure an Olympic spot.
“The girls going to Pan Am is a step in the right direction. The assessment meets and its rewards are opening up avenues for girls to join the sport and be serious about their craft.
I think more females might be interested.
“I think more females might be interested now that these girls have shown their progress.
We want to encourage more young females to join the sport.
We’re happy, as it’s a good starting point for an influx of more females.
The parents and everyone is happy,” he added.
On Monday, D’Andrade planned to contact Arima mayor Cagney Casimire to reopen the Arima Velodrome for the youngsters to resume training.
The cycling venue, like many other sporting facilities nationwide, was closed, two weeks ago, after the Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh clamped down on recreational team sports owing to rising cases of covid19.
The velodrome was one such facility. However, athletes preparing for national representation on the global circuit have been given the all-clear to continue training at facilities under strict health guidelines.
D’Andrade also credited Casimire for being a strong supporter of the club and its events.
“Although the velodrome was closed recently, I plan to contact the mayor on Monday to have it reopened for us because we have to prepare.
“He (Casimire) has been very co-operative and sometimes passes through the Saturday morning programme. I would like to thank the club for supporting the programme. Even the mayor who supports us,” he closed.