NSC 8-week programme pedaled off at National Park yesterday
By Franklin Wilson
It has been Guyana’s longest surviving August (Summer) programme and certainly seems destined to clock another 33 years unhindered.
We’re talking of the National Sports Commission’s (NSC) sponsored ‘Teach Them Young’ cycling programme which is held at the National Park.
Coach of the programme from its inception Hassan Mohamed MS, speaking with Kaieteur sport yesterday at the National Park, reminded that the coaching clinic commenced way back in 1977 and will run for eight (8) weeks from yesterday, concluding on September, 5.
Beginners are taught the fine arts of the sport during the clinic and are also allowed to test their new learnt skills against each other in the various races that are organised.
Mohamed, who has been a tower of strength in the cycling fraternity in Guyana, recalled that the clinic has come a long way over the years and over 90% of this country’s cyclist’s, have been a part of the ‘Teach Them Young’ programme.
The first two he said were current President of the Guyana Cycling Federation (GCF) Hector Edwards and Leo Ramalho. Some of the other notable names whose foundation came as a result of the programme are Fiedtkou brothers – Noel and Marcus, Byron and Bertram James, Dwayne ‘Road Hog’ Gibbs, Godfrey Pollydore, the late Troy Humphrey, Linden Dowridge and the present crop of riders who are not only dominating locally, but regionally.
At the Park yesterday, it was noticeable that apart from the few new riders, a number of senior riders who have already passed through the programme were around pedaling with the new and younger riders guiding them along.
Mohamed said that that was not new and he is very grateful to the senior riders which included, Warren ‘Forty’ Mc Kay, Lear Nunes, USA based Horace Burrowes and junior Christopher Holder for coming out to encourage the future stars of the sport.
Sessions which are free of cost – commence at 09:00hrs and conclude at 11:30hrs. Riders are only asked to walk with protective gear (helmet) to be a part of the clinic.
In the early years, Mohamed remembered that programme went for six weeks and the riders only had one race to showcase what they learnt.
The sport he said started to develop more when the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) incorporated the sport into their Annual Inter School Athletics Meet in 1979 at Albion in Berbice.
“It has grown ever since. But when you have a six week programme and you get about 30-riders with one race to ride in at the end – you find that the next year you get a lot of drop outs because of the one race situation.”
“I found out that I could not depend on Government for everything so I approached corporate Guyana for assistance and the response was great, bearing a lot of fruit.”
This year Mohamed informed that he would have about four (4) races during the ‘Teach Them Young’ clinic.
“I would try to keep this programme going for as long as possible – As long as the have the health and strength.”
Mohamed started his career in cycling in 1958 and was never lucky to have a coach. He got tips from a number of persons including the late George Cumberbatch who he considers as the best cyclist Guyana has ever produced.
Bunny Elphage, Dennis Phillips and Buggy De Freitas, all prominent names in the 1950’s. Mohamed’s sojourn as a competitor came to and end in 1972.
After completing a scholarship in Rome (March-May) 1975, which was made possible through the Guyana Olympic Association – headed by Sir Lionel Luckhoo, Mohamed was appointed as an NSC coach on August 1, 1975 by the then Prime Minister, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham.
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