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Monday, July 19, 2010

CAC Games Puerto Rico

American Hartwell prepares Trinidad and Tobago cyclists for CAC Games

T&T’s eight-member cycling team will travel to the National Sports Centre Velodrome in Minnesota, USA from different locations today to begin a three-week training camp to prepare for the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Mayagüez Puerto Rico from July 17-August 1. Five of the team members (Christopher Sellier, Njisane Phillip, Haseem McLean, Mark Codrington and Joshua Alexander) will leave from Piarco with team managers Gregory D’Andrade and Joseph Charles-Walker while Azikwe Kellar, Adam Alexander and Emile Abraham are already in the USA. The team will be training under American coach and double Olympic medallist Erin Hartwell, who will be arriving at the Velodrome from Mexico City where he coached T&T’s Junior Pan American team.

In May, T&T’s Senior Pan American team spent ten days at the Home Depot Centre in Los Angeles where its had access to a 250m track. The investment paid off as Sellier set a new Pan American record and won the gold in the kilometre then teamed up with Kellar and Phillip to set a new meet record and win the bronze in the team sprint. Phillip closed the tournament with a silver medal in the match sprint. During a press conference at the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs in Port-of-Spain yesterday, D’Andrade said that with the introduction of the high performance training camps in the USA, T&T cycling was on the verge of a new era.“This is the first time that we have come up with such a detailed plan for a training camp,” he said. “Over the years, our teams lacked opportunities like these and our results at the Pan Am Games have shown what a difference they can make. We’re going to be seeing improvement over a long period of time.”

D’Andrade said there were not any local facilities to properly prepare cyclists for certain international events. “We’re racing on a 250m outdoor track in Puerto Rico which is a completely different ball game,” he said. “The tracks in Skinner Park and the Arima Velodrome are like dinosaurs in comparison since they are so outdated. The track in Minnesota is ideal for our preparations and it will make a world of a difference.” He said after eight years of planning, construction was due to begin on a 250m track in the Mucurapo area over the next few months. The camp will be the first time that T&T’s endurance riders (Codrington, Abraham and the Alexander brothers) have joined up for high performance training.

Sellier, who will make up the sprint team with Kellar, Phillip and McLean, said that Hartwell’s people skills set him apart from other coaches. “During racing time he knows how to speak to the riders and how to motivate them,” he said. “In everything like that, he’s the ideal person for the situation. I’ve never met anybody like that.” He said he was looking forward to the next three weeks which he felt it would bring out the best in him. “It gives us more motivation because training in T&T can be a hassle,” he said. “I don’t like going on the Velodrome to train and when go out on the road you always stand the chance of being bounced down. Going to this nice track in Minnesota will do the guys a lot of good just to be in that environment.”

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