By Emmerson Campbell
The resurfacing of the National Park circuit which is a major locality for cycle races as well as the groundbreaking success of the Guyanese team at the Inter-Guiana Games in Suriname in winning the cycle road race are among the highlights this year, says national cycling coach Hassan Mohamed.
“The biggest achievement for the year is getting the park resurfaced by the Government of Guyana. I have achieved everything I wanted in cycling this year, except developing cycling more in the rural areas but the time did not permit. Another highlight of the year for me is taking a team to the Inter-Guiana Games in Suriname as manager and for the first time we were able to win the road race.”
This is how Mohamed assessed the year in cycling during an exclusive interview with Stabroek Sport, while recounting his achievements and disappointments for the 2011 season and identifying some of his goals for the new year.
According to the national cycling coach, the resurfacing of the National Park was one of the biggest accomplishments for cycling for quite some time as he had been lobbying for a new surface for almost two decades.
“The resurfacing has to be the biggest achievement because we have been fighting for that for over 18 years. The park was in a deplorable state and the “Teach Them Young’ programme was suffering because of the state of the park, so I must thank the Government of Guyana, the National Sports Commission and the Minister, (and) Director of Sports Neil Kumar for helping that situation.”
Mohamed revealed that being the manager of the successful team that rode in Suriname at the Inter- Guiana Games was another achievement of his for 2011.
“Another highlight of the year for me is taking a team to the Inter-Guiana Games in Suriname as manager and for the first time we were able to win the road race – first, second, third, and fourth with a young team that surprised the Surinamese with Raynauth Jeffrey and Paul DeNobrega, Montell Anthony and Neil Reece – they are a young crop of cyclists and they went over there and did what they had to do. They also won the team time trials, plus in the road race they got first and second, then we had the two females Naomi Singh and Marica Dick, they were able to get second and third in the individual time trials.”
“In the road race Naomi won that ahead of Marica, so they got first and second and they got Champion Girl and Champion Boy so that is an achievement for me.”
Mohamed described the 2011 cycling season as successful and active.
“They had a very active year. I had been involved in 29 events for 2011, 12 road races, one track race and 13 park races, the ‘Big Ride’ and two GTU events, with the premier race being the 5th annual ‘Ride for Life’ 5-stage road race, so it was a pretty active season for the cyclists.”
Mohamed said that despite having a successful year, he wanted to develop cycling more in areas out of Georgetown, and this will be one of his main aims for next year. “I wanted like to do more riding in Essequibo, in Berbice, and in Linden but like I said before I was very occupied. I was occupied but for next year one of my main aims is to concentrate more on developing cycling in the areas out of Georgetown.”
Mohamed, who has been conducting the ‘Teach Them Young’ cycling programme for the past 35 years, said that it is from his programme that cycling talent is spotted and groomed for the future.
“This year is the 35th year for the ‘Teach Them Young’ as a result of the ‘Teach Them Young’ we have seen the likes of Jeffrey, DeNobrega, Raul Leal, brothers Montell and Michael Anthony, Akeem Arthur, Neil Reece and others blossom – this is a new crop that will take over cycling.”
Mohamed also spoke about some of the activities that the riders will be engaged in during the off season.
“Some of them will be doing indoor training, they will do general preparation, and those whose shoulders are weak will build their shoulders to control their bike more effectively, some will do weight training to build power in their body parts, especially their legs, basically they will be doing general preparation for the new season.”
Mohamed thanked the corporate sponsors who he said were too much to mention for supporting his events throughout the year. He also thanked members of the media for promoting his events. Meanwhile, the 2012 cycling season will pedal off on January 28 with the annual Ricks and Sari Agro Industries 11-race ‘Teach Them Young’ programme.