Sunday, April 21, 2024

ON THE BALL: It’s what’s best for cycling


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Chikungynya, you say?

Ah well. So now that’s out the way, guess there’s no need for any Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) intervention in the Barbados Cycling Union’s handling of a certain elite rider.

Because if someone somehow managed to find any other excuse to leave Darren Matthews off this Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games squad then Steve Stoute would have to put his foot down at the BCU’s doorstep.

No, wait. Scrap that.

Steve Stoute has to put his foot down at the BCU’s doorstep.

Yeah, I’m not all for the BOA meddling in the internal affairs of sporting federations either, but the only problem is athletes like Matthews aren’t filed under the folder “internal affairs of sporting federations”.

Governance, though, is another thing, so if cycling’s membership wants to tear itself apart over whether Keith Yearwood and his administration should remain at the helm then that’s their issue.

Heck, if it also wants to make a ripe mess of selecting locally-based riders for meets then go right on ahead by all means. Be our guest.

Messing with the possible accumulation of Barbados medals, however, should be completely out of the BCU’s hands – barring reasons of ill-discipline and a serious breach of conduct and rules of course.

None of which Matthews seems culpable of, leading me to believe that enough is definitely enough where this divide between his camp and the BCU administration is concerned.

You see, the BOA probably sat by way too long and watched this situation develop to the point where people were actually able to seriously justify Matthews’ exclusion from a Caribbean Road Race Championship.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying selection criteria is to be totally ignored or treated whimsically, but it shouldn’t be hard and fast either in the case of an elite athlete who falls short of the said criteria due to overseas-based training and competition.

But I digress, so forgive me, because the greater point is this: Matthews as an elite athlete is Barbados property now, and the BOA needs to start treating him as such.

You’d think the Olympic body weren’t providing funds for his training either . . . . But yes, they do pay for his training. So tell me again what is the sense funding someone who isn’t being chosen by his own federation?

Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago that a particular high-ranking BOA official said it’s high time the body start demanding the availability of their elite athletes at major meets?

Well, Erskine Simmons, wouldn’t you say this qualifies?

Sure, the Caribbean Road Race Championship doesn’t exactly meet the criteria of a major meet, but it does serve as the qualification for one (Pan American Games) which then serves as the qualification for another one (Olympics).

So in essence the BOA won’t have the availability of their lone elite rider at the most major of meets.

Oh and by the way Carol Kelly, Matthews is indeed elite.

You seem a very knowledgeable person Mrs Kelly, but while you are correct in stating the BOA provides money to the BCU, that money has nothing to do with the funds Matthews receives under the elite athlete programme.

National federations, like the BCU, are the guys who nominate athletes for such funding before the BOA deems whether those suggested persons are worthy for the programme.

And their performances justify their selection, so it wasn’t before Matthews’ 2012 Pan American bronze medal in the scratch race that the BOA started to fund him.

No, the BOA doesn’t give out money to a rider all willy-nilly and hopes that the cyclist becomes world-class. It’s the other way around my dear.

It would be hard-pressed for the BOA then to justify backing riders that don’t finish races at say, um, the Caribbean Road Race Championships. Or the Commonwealth Games maybe.

But just in case anyone still doesn’t think ole Darren is world-class, then perhaps a UCI Tobago Classic victory, the fourth place showing at the 2013 Pan American Cycling Championships and his ability to be the only Caribbean rider to finish in the top ten of both the Commonwealth Games’ scratch and points races can change your mind.

No? How about a world ranking of 14 in the scratch race?

Then again, if he isn’t being treated as a world-class cyclist then who am I to say he is.

Or who is the BCU to select him like one?


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