Kelly for SA pro stint
A LOT?CAN?happen in one year.
Jesse Kelly is living proof of that.
Having ridden competitively for just 12 months, Kelly has been invited to join one of South Africa’s most successful cycling clubs, Tasol-GT Pro Cycling Team for a six-month stint.
In doing so, he will become the fourth Barbadian to ride professionally in South Africa, following in the footsteps of his coach Barry Forde, Jason Perryman and Darren Matthews.
Yesterday, at a ceremony at United Insurance Company Limited’s Broad Street headquarters, Kelly was presented with a cheque by marketing manager Sharron Alleyne Elcock to assist with the cost of the trip.
In an interview with WEEKENDSPORT, Kelly, who will leave the island next week Wednesday for Johannesburg, said he was excited about the opportunity to ride professionally.
“I know that it will be some very hard work, but I am looking forward to riding in South Africa,” he revealed with a huge grin.
“It’s been a year of hard work and for the next six months I will be riding with some of the best cyclists in South Africa, so I am pretty excited.
“Once there I’m going to be putting my best foot forward, and hopefully I will be able to secure a long-time professional deal.”
Kelly will be staying with Nolan Hoffman, a member of Tasol GT’s team and one of South Africa’s brightest talents who finished second in the 15km scratch race at last year’s World Championships in February, which were held in Melbourne, Australia.
What makes his achievement all the more exceptional is the fact that the 18-year-old former Lodge and Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic student only started racing competitively in 2012.
“I always used to ride mountain bikes, but I only really started riding competitively last year,” the former G4S Swift cyclist said.
“But I had some pretty good performances, including a first place finish at a Fuji meet in Pennsylvania where I beat out over 60 professional riders.
“There were also some other track series meets where I also performed quite well and I think that kind of paved the way for me.”
Through the efforts of Forde, Kelly hooked up with American coach Erin Hartwell, a former Olympic medallist, for a six-week training stint and Hartwell liked what he saw.
The rest is history, and as Kelly prepares to embark on this potentially life changing transition, even his father Allan Kelly is surprised at how fast his son has progressed.
“I am extremely proud of Jesse and what he has achieved so far,” he remarked.
“It’s only been a year since he has been riding competitively and I just want him to go out there and do his best.”