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Cyclists Pan Am participation under threat

NATIONAL CYCLING coach Adrian Clarke believes Jamaican riders will be missing out on a glorious opportunity if the Jamaica Cycling Federation (JCF) cannot find the funds needed to attend the Pan American (Pan Am) Road Cycling Championships in Argentina from May 10-15.

Clarke, also a JCF vice president, pointed out that the continental championships were also used as qualifiers for Olympic Games and the World Championships, as well as the main event used by professional cycling teams to scout riders.

The JCF requires at least US$70,000 (nearly J$11 million) to attend the event. However, assistance has been slow in coming and the federation is hoping to meet their total by the first week of May.

“Currently, the federation is broke. We have sought assistance but we are just waiting on them to let us know.

“The Jamaica Olympic Association has been our tower of strength and we cannot pressure them. They have been a main partner and sponsor. All our international events, they have been funding us, so we cannot even have an expectation of them right now.

“We have to look help elsewhere and we are looking towards the private sector and other NGOs and government officials,” he said

According to Clarke, the cycling federation has been doing a lot with just subventions and will be trying some fundraising as well.

“Argentina is very expensive and much of our Caribbean counterparts are having the same issues with funding when I spoke with them.

“But that is where you qualify for the Olympics, the World Championships and that is where the international pro teams come and scout their cyclists. So it is very important that we go to the continental championships.”

If the team fails to acquire the funds to attend the event, Clarke said they might be forced to take a smaller team, nevertheless he hopes that they will have some good news before the end of this month.

“Worst-case scenario, we might have to send a smaller team. Hopefully, by the last week of this month or the first week of next month, we will be able to see if we can really send a team.

“At the same time, we are on the ground trying to secure the funds and we are asking anyone if they can assist,” he pleaded.

Last year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamaica sent an 11-member team to the championship and came back with a bronze medal through Llori Sharpe, who was also contracted by a European pro team.

Clarke believes this team is much better prepared than last year’s and they are expecting even more medals.

“Cycling has been on the up. Last year we got a bronze medal and this year the preparation has been three times what it was last year.

“The guys are having a good preparation. They are doing more races and we are going to do much better than last year, if we go,” he stated.

“I expect to take home some medals based on my assessment. The guys have improved a lot and we know they will put on a good show.

“It is just heartbreaking to know that they have been preparing so well and have been so committed and they are having this obstacle,” he said.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com

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