By Emmerson Campbell
Coordinator of the Guyana Cycling Association of North America (GCANA) Victor Rutherford made a monetary award to current national cycle road race champion Walter Grant-Stewart during the closing ceremony of the ‘Ride for Life’ five-stage cycle road race on Sunday at the National Cultural Centre.
Rutherford, a Guyanese who lives in Florida, USA, is a former national cycling champion.
The award was made to Grant-Stewart, whose right arm is amputated, for earning this year’s title of national road race champion and to assist him to compete in the Paralympics in England next year.
Stabroek Sport caught up with Rutherford to get an insight into the GCANA and his views on cycling currently in Guyana. Rutherford told this newspaper that the purpose of the organization was to assist Guyanese cyclists, both locally and abroad.
Moreover, Rutherford disclosed that every year the GCANA will present a cash award to whoever is the national cycle road race champion.
He also noted that the GCANA, which is in its second year, is a committee made up of ex-cyclists who are living overseas and their objective is to support active Guyanese cyclists.
“Our objective is basically to assist Guyanese cyclists both locally and abroad. We are all over but we’re based mainly in North America. I’m in Florida, Neville Hunte the president (of GCANA) is in California, Monty Davis and Gavin Lowman they’re in New York along with others all over.”
The former national champion stated that the money is obtained through fundraisers and three were held for the year so far.
“For this year we had three fundraisers so far, one in March which was a reunion dance in Brooklyn. We also held a Bar-B-Que in August and a meet over the Labour Day weekend at the Kissena Park Velodrome in Queens, New York.”
Meanwhile, Rutherford stressed his disappointment that the Guyanese riders who are on the national team were not wearing the national colours during the country’s premier cycling event, the ‘Ride for Life’ five-stage road race, which was won by Dane Michael Larsen of the California-based Paso Prime Beef Company-sponsored team.
“I am disappointed, very disappointed in the sense that if you check back the records between 1972 and 1984, we set a precedence.
“Guyana had dominated cycling in the Caribbean riding as a team.
“Between ‘72 and ‘78 was Neville Hunte.
I was with Hunte and as a team in fact between Hunte, myself, Dennis Medford, Monty Davis and as we started to move out Toussaint (Randy) came in, Gordon (Aubrey) came in, Joelyn Joseph came in, Errol McLean came in.
“At that stage from being the national champ I became the national coach from 1978 to 1984 and Joseph was the best sprinter in the West Indies. Gordon was the best distance rider in the West Indies, we used to go to Jamaica and win any race, Trinidad and all over the Caribbean, and we were successful because we had a team here training together and racing together.”
Rutherford said that the team needs to be encamped and to train together.
“We got a team together and we used to live in Kuru Kuru College and between the highway and the racing circuit that’s where we used to train. We used to have a team of at least 10 riders and from that we selected the national team. You have to be a cohesive unit. You put on that Guyana jersey – it’s a different feeling, you’re proud to represent your country and you also work as a team and you plan the race in order to get the job done.”
Rutherford maintained that the local cyclists have talent but said there was need for a national trainer to work specifically with them.
“There is talent no doubt about it – Geron Williams, Alonzo Greaves, Paul De Nobrega, Raynauth Jeffrey, Michael Anthony – all these guys have talent but they should be a trainer that could work with the cyclists to take them to the next level.”
In closing, Rutherford highlighted that next year the GCANA will be making a donation of 24 national cycling uniforms.