“The beginning of a brand new era.” This is how Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe and all those who were at the National Cycling Velodrome in Couva on Saturday described the news that the Sports Company of TT (SporTT), in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation, has cemented a partnership with the UCI’s (International Cycling Union) World Cycling Centre to position TT as the home of the western hemisphere’s first satellite centre at the National Cycling Centre in Couva.
This means that the National Cycling Centre is one of only a few cycling venues in the world to be given that status. It is expected that the facility will attract cyclists from around the world to train, major events will be held at the venue and it will develop cycling locally.
The other UCI satellite centres in the world are in South Africa, Japan, South Korea, India and Portugal. “A tremendous achievement and a source of immeasurable pride,” Cudjoe said.
“On behalf of the people of TT I thank you and we are going to work with you hand in hand to maximise the full potential of sport and to ensure that this facility right here brings the excitement, the energy and the opportunity that we all hope it would bring. So here is to the beginning of a brand new era.”
The sport minister said cyclists will travel to Trinidad to train and local riders will benefit from the world class facility.
“This satellite centre accreditation signifies that our very own cycling velodrome here in Balmain, Couva will be a hub for athletes from our region and beyond to train and hone their skills rather than having to take trips to Switzerland and other distant places to see their athletic aspiration (achieved).”
National cyclist Nicholas Paul has been based in Switzerland for many years training at the UCI World Cycling Centre. Not only cyclists will benefit as courses for mechanics and cycling administrators will be held at the National Cycling Velodrome. Cudjoe thanked SporTT chairman Douglas Camacho for his leadership in supporting the goal of making the facility a UCI satellite venue.
Camacho said, “Some may say this journey has ended. For many others I say the journey has now begun.”
He said the aim of SporTT is for venues in Couva to earn revenue.
“Our intention is to monetize these facilities on behalf of the people of TT and make sure that we get value for money and those who trust us with the responsibility of helping them prepare for various sporting disciplines when they leave are pleased and satisfied.” The National Aquatic Centre is also located in Balmain, Couva.
During the event on Saturday many TT cyclists stated their satisfaction in videos shown to those in attendance. Paul said, “It is going to be great for the Caribbean and by extension TT. It is just going to be an awesome venture.”
Alexi Ramirez said, “I am really happy to hear about the cycling centre that is now going to be in TT. I think it is an amazing opportunity for the Caribbean riders and also our home TT riders.” Ramirez knows coaches and mechanics will benefit through courses held at the velodrome.
President of the Pan American Cycling Confederation Jose Manuel Palaez Rodriguez, speaking through a translator, said the satellite centre will support the TT cyclists ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics. “We hope it is going to be a successful venue…I am sure TT will be participating in the Paris Games and hopefully we will have many athletes at this venue preparing themselves,” Rodriguez said.
Director of the World Cycling Centre Jacques Landry said, “This is obviously a good and excellent facility that would be put in place to continue to grow cycling in the region.”