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Uphill pedal for Forde


Uphill pedal for Forde

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BARRY FORDE’S failure to medal at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games is cause for concern.  The Barbadian cycling ace would have been expected to be on the podium with his eyes closed when he was at his best a few years ago.  Times have certainly changed. The worry is justified. After all, if you have anything major left in the tank you simply have to medal at CAC, considered to be the lowest level of international competition.  It is where you tend to blood emerging athletes moreso than send seasoned professionals to show their worth.  On the other hand, it can also be seen as a route to restart your engine if your winning vehicle encountered problems along the way and after repairs you wanted to test its viability.
                   Honestly, without seeming to disrespect any of the medal winners, I want to view Forde’s participation at CAC in this light. And this would be a rational method to assess his progress.  This was an athlete who seemed poised to conquer the best in his sport about three years ago.  Forde was a cyclist highly rated and feared in the match sprint and the keirin which had apparently become his forte.  For sure he had no equals in the Pan American region and it seemed only a matter of time before he won a World or Olympic crown.  Then the worst possible thing happened when he returned a positive drugs test and had to serve a mandatory two-year ban.
I believe this to be a major turning point. The training continued in earnest but missing top-class competition for that length of time can hurt.  The clock doesn’t stop and while you were away from competing, your peers would have been getting stronger, not to mention those who would have emerged during your prolonged absence from competing.  For instance, there wasn’t much difference between the skill and speed levels of the Briton Sir Christopher Hoy and Forde before he was banned but the same Hoy won three gold medals in Beijing at the last Olympics.  Clearly, on return to competition, Forde has recognised that the playing field is not as level as he left it. I think the CAC experience would have registered this point in the most graphic manner.
To some extent, I sympathise with Forde because two weeks prior to the games all of his cycling equipment was stolen and this was an obvious setback to his preparations.  This point shouldn’t be taken lightly because these days you find that teams and individuals, even at CAC level, place a lot more emphasis on training and preparation physically and mentally. Greater detail is paid to attaining success.  Moving on, the question is: should Forde be given a chance to represent his country at the Commonwealth Games in India in October?I think he should be given the chance to redeem himself and I say it without reservation.
In dark times, we tend to see only the worst, forgetting the bright times when individuals would have brought pride and glory to their country.  Forde has had these moments. It would be wrong to turn our backs on him now that he seeks moral support more than anything else to regain lost confidence.  I trust, too, that his corporate support will remain in tact because I think it is too early to write him off or see him as a spentforce.  I would say, though, that if he is selected for Commonwealth, it would be a true test of his capabilities because several of the world’s top riders, especially from Britain and Australia, should be there competing for top accolades.
In closing, I want to congratulate all 11 medal winners for Barbados at CAC. I dare to dream of more at Commonwealth and other forthcomming international meets.  We only need to get our preparation right.  Andi Thornhill is sports editor at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.
He can be reached at [email protected]?