Just recently, Bahamas Cycling Federation President Roy Colebrooke returned home from the International Cycling Union (UCI) 2019 Congress in Innsbruck, Austria. The primary message he brought was twofold.
The veteran unionist and sports administrator said he relishes one of the “most important” roles that sports leaders should play, that of ensuring self-help initiatives, in generating funding for development purposes. In that regard, he felt obligated to make a plea at the UCI Congress for funding to propel national cycling.
He was successful and has put a mandate in place for the cycling executives.
“We have earmarked national cycling development but recognize that the recent Hurricane Dorian devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama, two major parts of our cycling family. As a result, it has been determined that those islands will be a priority. While we will begin seriously concentrating on development in all of the islands, we recognize that Hurricane Dorian was a big blow to the cycling programmes in Abaco and Grand Bahama. They need our attention most, at this time.”
He insists on fostering the “self-help” concept, regarding funding.
“We recognize that we have to concentrate on doing for ourselves and then if government chips in, with whatever, then that gives an additional push. What we want to do is embark on a national programme of development. And, one day, it will pay dividends. What we know is that sporting disciplines like ours are looked at in a different light, so we have adapted.
“We have become independent. While we receive a government grant, we know that other sources have to be contacted for us to run our many programmes, including self-funding. I am fortunate to have had many years in sports politics and unionism. I have been seasoned to interact with my international sports colleagues to the benefit of our national objectives. So, there were negotiations for this funding with COPACI, the Pan American and Caribbean Cycling Organization and UCI, the International Cycling Union. I am pleased that we can assist in the re-development of the cycling programmes of our brothers and sisters in the devastated areas of the northern cycling communities,” said Colebrooke.
COPACI is the Pan American arm of cycling. Established in 1922, COPACI has been instrumental in fostering the growth of cycling in this region, to enable the cycling family to remain competitive with other sections of the world. Although functioning under the UCI, it operates autonomously with jurisdiction over national federations and associations of Pan America. COPACI is second in years of existence only to UCI, in world cycling. Colebrooke sees the gesture by COPACI as “very significant” to what we want to do going forward.
Indeed, it seems to be the beginning of a new era for Bahamian cycling.
Although cycling has been an active participant within the Olympic Movement, the sport has never been able to match the enthusiasm and popularity of past years, to similar performances during regional or international competitions. With what Cokebrooke considers to be a new push, perhaps the sport will begin to recapture the energy of past eras.
There was a time when cycling was one of the most popular sports in the country. Residents, and visitors lined the streets of New Providence for road races, where legends were showcased, the likes of Alexander “The Whip” Harris, Bertram “Cowboy” Musgrove, Leonard “Boston Blackie” Miller, Christopher “Duece” Thompson, Noel “Donna” Brown, Raymond Morley, the Burnside brothers and others.
President Colebrooke could very well be ushering in a pivotal moment in time for the sport of cycling in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.