“REACH out to the federation, don’t just wait for us to reach out.”
This is the request from president of the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF) Rowena Williams, speaking about the lack of sponsorship for cycling in TT.
TT cyclists have been excelling on the world stage, delivering quality performances at two recent events – the Elite Pan American Track Cycling Championships in Lima, Peru and at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
TT ended the Pan Am Championships on Sunday with seven medals – four gold, one silver and two bronze. It was this country’s best ever showing at a Pan Am Championships.
Williams followed the call by TT cyclist Teniel Campbell for more assistance.
On Sunday, Campbell wrote on Facebook, "Time for a SUSTAINABLE development program with SMART goals and INVESTMENT plans for Team TTO cyclist.
She added, "Can't forget the NEED for cohesive staff members that the athletes can TRUST."
TT cyclists have been in stellar form over the past weeks.
At the Commonwealth Games, which ended on August 8, Nicholas Paul copped three medals. He won gold in the men's keirin event, silver in the men's sprint and bronze in the 1K time trial.
The Prime Minister has recognised the performances of the cyclists. Dr Rowley praised Campbell on Sunday in a Facebook post, saying, "Gold for Teniel. Well Done! Cyclist Teniel Campbell won Gold in the Women's Point Race at the Pan American Elite Track Cycling Championships Lima, Peru."
Williams said, “We see that corporate TT basically go after sponsoring cricket and football more than they would do with athletics or cycling or other sports.”
She said cyclists require financial backing to compete at a high level.
“It is a career for them,” she said. “The sport itself takes a lot to administer to get the cyclists where they are going just to qualify for events, it is very hard for cyclists…in terms of the rounds and the different events they have to go to. It takes a lot of money to really get cyclists to where they need to be and to be at that level.”
Williams said a joint effort is required.
“We really would like to impress on how we can collaborate and partner with each other to really continue to give the cyclists what they need to continue to perform at their best.”
Williams said, with Paul competing on the world stage, his competitors will be “coming after him,” so he needs the support to keep training at a high level.
Giving details of how expensive cycling can be, Williams said, “A bike is more than $30,000 to be at that level.”
A cyclist’s gear also includes a helmet, shoes and a uniform which can cost close to $20,000.
The TTCF has a partnership with Colombian clothing line Suarez Clothing for uniforms, but Williams said more funds are needed to get more quality uniforms.
Williams also agreed with Campbell’s plea for a sustainable development programme.
“She is correct. We have to make sure that we have a sustainable (programme).”
Williams asked drivers to share the road with cyclists, as endurance riders, including Campbell, train on the road.
She said the roads need to improve, as potholes will damage their bicycles.
“It calls for collaboration from all the ministries, everybody and corporate (TT) to get on board and see how we could help our athletes. I am not speaking cycling alone, but everybody.”
Williams congratulated all the cyclists who competed at the Elite Pan Am Cycling Championships.
Pan Am medallists:
Nicholas Paul – sprint gold, keirin gold, team sprint gold
Teniel Campbell – points race gold, individual sprint silver, elimination race bronze
Akil Campbell – scratch race silver
Kwesi Browne – team sprint gold
Zion Pulido – team sprint gold