By Iva Wharton
At 19-years-old female cyclist Naomi Singh is quite passionate about the sport and readily admits that her goal is to get to the top and her focus now is on the Caribbean Cycling Championships. Singh said that she has been riding competitively for six years starting at the 2008 National Schools Athletics, Swimming and Cycling Championships.
At that time riding for her was just for fun and she never thought that she would get this far in the sport.
“After I got further in it and everything, started travelling and seeing places things changed.”
Two years after she was in the “Teach Them Young” cycle programme organised by national cycling coach Hassan Mohamed and this is where she learnt everything she knows about cycling. She also said that it was through that programme that she received her first cycle.
However, in describing cycling as her passion, Singh said that she has made some bad choices, one of which was dropping out of school in fourth form. At the time she said that she was consumed by the sport, but she plans on enrolling in an education institution in January.
This is Singh’s description of cycling: “Is the only thing I got right now, without cycling I don’t know where I would have been right now. I could say that cycling is my life, I have been doing cycling for six years now and I can’t see myself stopping it.” Singh said she is unemployed which according to her is by choice as she is dedicated to cycling. Her family, she said, is her support base financially, which has allowed her to pursue cycling. Training, she said, is done twice per week on the East Coast Demerara public road but she acknowledges that it is dangerous facing the heavy and chaotic traffic.
Training in the mornings is not such a hassle but in the afternoons when she has to compete with motorists who are sometimes uncaring it can become risky.
According to her the lack of support in the cycling fraternity is her major challenge but asked to elaborate, Singh said she preferred not to. Another of her challenges is the lack of female competitors and so her male counterparts are the ones she has to measure her performance against.
There are two other females competing regularly in the sport – Marica Dick of Berbice and Hazina Barrett of Linden.
Singh said that Dick is not a challenge to her, but Barrett is. She said the few times they have met Barrett has always proved to be a fierce competitor.
However, with the limited opportunities for development in Guyana, Singh said that she has been exploring the possibility of migration. Trinidad, she said, would give her the opportunity to compete against females at her level and to also develop as a cyclist. And considering her performance at the recent Caribbean Cycling Championships in Jamaica, Singh said she believes that she could have performed better. In the fourth lap she began to experience cramps which slowed her down, but she has put that behind her. She said that she has another chance next year and would be better prepared.
Asked about sponsorship, Singh said that in the past it was pretty difficult for her, but she now has two sponsors – Floodlight Cricket and Bakja Health Movement.
The two, she said, have been with her for the last six months, which has made it a little easier for her.
The money she receives from her sponsors goes directly to the maintenance of her cycle and not a cent is spent on herself.
Cycling she said is an expensive sport and that is where constant sponsorship is needed. However, she declined to disclose how much money she has expended on the sport over the years and would only confirm that “it’s a lot.”
She noted, however, that an accident earlier this year saw her having to spend $200,000 for a replacement bike. But the replacement cycle, she said, is not new as a new cycle could cost $2 million. Singh said that she is at present preparing for two competitions, the Inter-Guiana Games and the schools championships. At the schools championships she would be riding in the invitational events.
Singh added that before she quits cycling her goal is to become the female Caribbean champion.