Jul 13, 2009 Sports
By Franklin Wilson
Warren ‘Forty’ Mc Kay proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is the man to beat on local shores when he captured his third consecutive cycling race, the Annual Ballot Box Martyrs’ 55-mile event staged in the Ancient County of Berbice yesterday.
Mc Kay, who won the annual NAMILCO ‘Wheat Up’ race organised by the Roraima Bikers Club on CARICOM day, did not only outfox last year’s winner Robin Persaud but shaved off more than 8 minutes from last year’s winning time.
He clocked 2 hours 5 minutes 01.31 seconds to relegate Persaud to the runner-up position followed by Junior Niles, the resurgent Eric Sankar, USA based Horace Burrowes and Lear Nunes to close out the top six.
There were also exciting duels to decide the junior, veteran and Over-60 champions. Geron Williams overtaking rival and last year’s junior champion Christopher Holder to take the title with Berbician Dwight Holder taking a distant third.
Linden Blackman made a welcome return to the top spot on the podium by turning back the challenge of Berbician Gary Benjamin and Virgil Jones in that order, last year’s champ Kennard Lovell failing to get a podium finish. Sixty two year-old Monty Parris of West Demerara showed that he still has lots of fire left, outsprinting Aubrey Gravesande to take the Over-60 title. Shawn Frank took the upright category.
The oldest cyclist prize was won by 74 year-old Berbician Edward Williams, while Naiomi Singh was the lone female to compete in the race. Singh and Williams started from Whim Village and concluded at the finish line which was located at Number 63 village.
The race which attracted a total of 36-riders started outside the PPP Freedom House Office, New Amsterdam with the competitors being sent on their way by Regional Chairman Zulfikar Mustapha after listening to brief remarks from the Honourable Minister of Culture Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony.
Light drizzles, accompanied by heavy overcast conditions was the order of the day but this did not deter the riders from setting a fast pace which eventually led to lowering last year’s overall time.
While there were some mini breaks early on in the race with the riders on those breaks not able to establish any serious lead, being sucked back in by the pack, Mc Kay made his move alone at Rose Hall Village with Alex Mendes in close pursuit but the latter was not able to stay the course eventually falling back in with the pack.
Niles however, decided that it was time for him to go after Mc Kay and they were joined by Robin Persaud, Eric Sankar, Tony Simon and Horace Burrrowes at number 50 village, effective ending the race as the second pack consisting of Compton Grant-Stuart, Mendes, Lear Nunes, Alonzo Greaves, Geron Williams and Christopher Holder had no chance of reconnecting as the front runners increased the gap consistently.
Unfortunately for Simon, he suffered a back wheel puncture at number 63-village and by the time he got a change of wheel, his rivals had caught up and established a huge lead. His high level of fitness allowed him to connect back with the second pack but it was Lear Nunes who rallied to take the sixth and final, top spot.
Members of the Guyana Police Force (Outriders & foot ranks), despite having a fitness walk to commemorate their anniversary, did an excellent job in controlling traffic throughout the course of the race and were duly complimented by the organisers.
At the presentation ceremony, which was held at the memorial site of the Ballot Box Martyrs’ – Jagan Ramessar and Bola Nauth Parmanand – Director of Sport Neil Kumar in brief remarks praised the organising team led by National Coach Hassan Mohamed for a fine job. Kumar singled out for special mention, the oldest competitor Edward Williams and the lone female rider, 16 year-old Naiomi Singh for participating, pointing out that this was the first time a female category was added to the race.
The Director of Sport also encouraged the many parents that were present to support their children in whichever sport they participate in. He also announced that the female winner next year will receive one racing cycle.
Presidential Advisor, Dr. Navin Chanderpal in his comments assured the gathering that this event will form part of the annual calendar for cyclists in mid July – adding to the three races that are held to commemorate the birth and death anniversaries of former President, Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
Dr. Anthony delivering feature remarks stated that the focus will now be on lifting the quality of future races with a view to attract regional and international competition.
“And we in the Progressive Youth Organisation and PPP will be reviewing not only the trophies that we’ll be giving for this race but also other elements of the race to make it more attractive. I know while your participation over the last two years has been growing and more and more people coming out and participating we still would like to examine how we can get more people involved.”
Contractor Chris Jagdeo sponsored the event for yet another year and assured the organisers that sponsorship for the future is secured.
Photos saved on server Frankie as Ballot Box Martyr’s cycling 09.
Photo of lone female competitor Naiomi Singh also saved on server.
059: Top performers row!!! The Top performers at the Annual Ballot Box Martyrs’ cycle road race pose with Dr. Frank Anthony (centre) and other high ranking officials of the PPP at the Memorial site of the Ballot Box Martyrs’, No. 63 Village. (Franklin Wilson photo)
taste of victory, Warren ‘Forty’ Mc Kay crosses the finish line comfortably ahead of Robin Persaud, Junior Niles (partly hidden) Eric Sankar and Horace Burrowes yesterday in Berbice. (Franklin Wilson photo)
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