Only a 'letter of interest' from the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs to the International Cycling Union (UCI), is preventing the introduction of a historic UCI Training Centre at the National Cycling Centre (NCC) in Balmain, Couva, Robert Farrier, president of the T&T Cycling Federation has said.
The federation's ongoing efforts to have the centre on local soil got a much-needed boost in the wake of the country's excellent performances at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Colombia a month ago, and the Pan American Championship in Mexico, when Farrier received a call from UCI officials for an update on the progress of the centre.
Farrier told Guardian Media Sports yesterday that the UCI on Friday phoned him to express its willingness to help the country acquire the cycling centre. He has since re-initiated talks with the UCI, his cycling federation and Minister of Sports Shamfa Cudjoe.
The UCI needs only a letter from Cudjoe and her ministry expressing an interest to have the centre here to begin the next phase of the process which will be to focus on the operations at the NCC.
In the aftermath of the country's eight medals at the CAC, and dominant performances at the Pan Am in which rising talent Nicholas Paul won three medals, including a gold in the Team Sprint when he teamed-up with Olympian Njisane Phillip and Keron Bramble, Farrier said the international cyclists are now interested in coming to T&T as they believe we have the formula for producing top riders.
"This is why the UCI training centre is so critical to us now. International riders can now come here and train or compete, providing a means of revenue to maintain the facility, help the sport and generate much-needed sports tourism dollars," Farrier explained.
The cycling federation has embarked on a drive to qualify as many riders for the Tokyo Japan Olympic Games in 2020, and according to Farrier, they are well on target. The cyclists, both men and women, have been hard in training with influential Canadian Technical Director Erin Hartwell, and have been showing steady progress.
The cyclists will now turn their focus on the UCI World Cups and World Championship later this year and next year.