Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rashan Bahati & Alexi Singh Grewal

Alexi Grewal 7 eleven



Rashan Bahati.........Even so, his first forays on European soil were eye opening, cringe-worthy even. "When I first raced there as a junior it was very shocking to me. I had people after the race wanting to touch my hair, touch my skin. There are black people in Belgium and Germany but none really in bike racing." He's glad he took those slightly surreal experiences on the chin because he acknowledged that getting angry might have backfired on him. A sense of humour was his friend – "it's kind of hard to miss me when I'm here. I was always telling people I look like a raisin in milk."

Bahati gave it some thought on why there aren't more black cyclists. Expense is certainly a factor that comes up but not, he said, an insurmountable barrier. Whatever one might think about Ball and Rock Racing, Bahati is quick to point out that just as certain riders on the team have been given what he calls a second chance, others have been given a big hand up the ladder by the sponsor, filling a void left by cycling's own authorities.

Asked if he thinks the powers-that-be do enough to help ethnic minorities and under-privileged kids in his own country he stated a firm "No." The Rock Racing rider was certain of a vast pool of potentially undiscovered talent. "Somehow we need to learn to tap into this system, whether it's bringing after-school programs back, or getting Fortune 500 companies donating a little bit of money. I would go into the hard hit places that need help, places like New Orleans that got hit by Hurricane Katrina - those are the people that need an outlet."

Breaking down racial stereotypes is vital, and he pointed out that it's been done in other sports – in reverse. "Take the movie 'White Men Can't Jump'. For a long time we had this perception that white guys couldn't jump but some of the best basketball players in the NBA are from different places in the world and they're not black."

Bahati acknowledged that it's not necessarily easy to promote cycling in a car-centric country like the United States, but the soaring cost of fuel is slowly helping push folks back to pedal power. As far as getting them into the sport he reckons the short city-centre criterium races at which he excels are ideal for holding spectators' attention. There's no doubt he has a few good years left in his legs, and he's the first to admit he's still learning even at the age of 26, but he sees himself as a promoter when he eventually stops turning his cranks in anger, "Hopefully I can help this movement to get more African American kids, more inner city kids involved because it's a fun sport."

It's a sport that's taken him further than he or his contemporaries in Compton would have imagined maybe a decade ago – being on the same team (albeit briefly) as his sporting idol Cipollini, travelling abroad, and getting paid for pursuing his passion. And just like his other idol, Major Taylor, Rahsaan Bahati is proud to be a little different from the majority of his peers, even if that difference is only skin deep. At the end of the day a good rider is a good rider, no matter what his or her background

Alexi Singh Grewal (born September 8, 1960 in Aspen, Colorado) is an Indian American Olympic gold medalist and former professional road racing cyclist. At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Grewal became the first American man to win an Olympic gold medal in cycling. His winning bicycle is now at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.[1]

After winning Olympic gold, Grewal turned professional and signed with the Panasonic team and later with the 7-Eleven Cycling Team. In 1986, he was dropped by the 7-Eleven team after spitting on a CBS camera man who got too close.[2]

After retiring from professional cycling Grewal moved to Colorado with his family. Grewal began making hand-hewn and crafted furniture and architectural features out of native hardwoods after his cycling days were over. He lost part of his fingers in an accident involving a saw.[3]

In 2004, Grewal was elected to the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame.

On April 3, 2008, VeloNews published an essay by Grewal on his personal use (and the overall prevalence) of doping in cycling[4] during his career, both in his amateur and professional

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