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BCU, Matthews not on same track

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

BCU, Matthews not on same track

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Instead of riding the Pan American Cycling Championships road race last weekend, Barbadian cyclist Darren Matthews was home competing in a two-hour criterium.
And as his father David points fingers at the Barbados Cycling Union (BCU) for not notifying them in time, that organization contends Matthews could have gone to the meet.
“We are all very disappointed that he didn’t go. I paid in excess of $12 000 to send Darren to Colombia. Peter Wilkie also paid for his son Brandon Wilkie to go to Colombia for six weeks.
“A training squad was called by the Barbados Cycling Union in January with cyclists and Greg Downie was named coach. After that, we never heard from the Barbados Cycling Union again,” David said.
The elder Matthews said he went on the Internet and got information about the race. They contacted the BCU on April 8 and were told by president Keith Yearwood they would “look into it”.
Matthews said he raised the issue again at the annual general meeting on April 24, but was told they (BCU) couldn’t find the date.
“I don’t know how the Barbados Cycling Union can’t find the date for Pan Ams. In my opinion, that is like the BOA [Barbados Olympic Association] not knowing when the Olympics or Commonwealth Games are. They waited then until last week Saturday to send me an email stating that they would like Darren to go to Pan Ams.”
He contended the notice was too late to contact Darren’s coach in Colombia – who works otherwise – to get him to the championships.
“So here we are today [Sunday] racing locally when we should have been racing at Pan Ams. [Darren] is very disappointed,” David said.
But Yearwood pointed out that the BCU gave the Matthews’ camp the same amount of notice when the youngster went to the Pan American track championships in February.
Yearwood said the information on the Internet that indicated the race was being held in Puebla, Mexico, was incorrect. The BCU contacted the regional cycling organization on April 5 and only received word from them last Thursday that the championships had been shifted to Zacatecas, Mexico.
However, Yearwood said, the cycling union had sent an email to Matthews on April 27 indicating that he had been selected to represent Barbados.
Yearwood said the cycling body had already made the booking for Darren to go from Bogota, where he was training, to Zacatecas.
“It was reasonable time. He had to get there two days before. He went to the Elite Track race in February and was notified in the same amount of time.”
Competitors are required to be in the village at least two days prior. Yearwood maintains there was reasonable notice given, based on when they received the information.
Matthews is also complaining about a lack of financial support.
“This cycling has me broke,” David said. “I have taken a lot of my savings. I have taken out loans to send Darren to train overseas and this is the end result. It is real disappointing for him and for me.”
He said Darren received some funding from the BOA, but it was not adequate.
“Darren has to be out of Barbados, out of the Caribbean to race at a certain standard. Commonwealth [Games are] next year, CAC [Central American and Caribbean] is next year, so right now he really needs help.”
His son also won’t be competing in the Barbados Sportive on October 6. The challenge is expected to attract between 700 and 1 000 cyclists from overseas.
However, it is the same day as the Tobago Cycling Classic, of which Darren is the defending champion. Several other local riders are slated to go to Tobago.
“I don’t know which of our leading cyclists will be here for the challenge, and it is unfortunate because you are getting some international riders coming and I really thought our better cyclists would’ve been here,” David said.
Darren will be leaving the island in two weeks to go to Belgium for further training.