Friday, April 19, 2024

Cyclists call for 250-metre track


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THERE STILL SEEMS to be no track in sight for local cycling.
A decade after realizing the need for a 250-metre track, Barbados Cycling Union (BCU) head, Keith Yearwood, is lamenting they are no closer to replacing the National Stadium’s outdated velodrome.
“We’re not close at all,” said the recently re-elected BCU?president, who estimated the cost to be in the millions.
“I may not see one here in my lifetime, but as long as I am president, we have to keep agitating, keep thinking and keep putting it on the agenda,” he said. “I think it’s going to come to a stage where we’re going to have to do like the swimming people and look to acquire our own land.
“This latest regime hasn’t met with the minister [of sport] yet, but we will have a courtesy call with him. But I know these are hard times for money spending so it’s going to be difficult.”
The velodrome has remained in decent shape but features a 500-metre track – a bigger track with less steep banks than the standard 250-metre wooden tracks used in international competitions.
Even with the clear disadvantage though, Barbados has still managed to produce a former World Championship medallist in the retired Barry Forde, while Javed Mounter became just the third Bajan to contest a Junior World Championship a year ago.
And this doesn’t account for the successes of wonder
kid Darren Matthews, whose long line of recent accomplishments include a PanAm Championships bronze medal and credible finishes at the Commonwealth Games.
But both Matthews and Forde have been huge beneficiaries of overseas-based training – a luxury not afforded to all of cycling’s promising talents.
“It is very important we get a 250 track because we have some young and good upcoming riders who have never seen a 250 track in their life, yet have to go and compete on one,” said Yearwood.
“Our track is good for training but our challenge is if we don’t get people out of Barbados to train on a 250 track before competition then they start at a serious disadvantage because they won’t be accustomed to the steep banks.
“And we can’t be myopic in our outlook because getting this track will auger well for sports tourism as people will come down and pay to rent the track in the winter months. Plus, with a 250 track, there is nothing stopping a World Championships from being held in Barbados,” he added.
Yearwood, who first took over cycling’s helm in 1996, also called for a renewed focus on the BMX programme to increase the cycling base.


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