Nat Cyclist eyes qualification for 2020 Olympics
By Sean Devers
Twenty-three-year-old National Cyclist Michael Wickham Anthony wants to see a Cycling Velodrome built in Guyana and was training in New York for the Olympics qualifiers before the Global Pandemic COVID-19 started to spread.
Michael, who hails from the Hilly, Sand and Clay Region (Linden), has the talent to make his Olympic dreams come true if he continues to put in the hard work.
In March 2020, Michael and another Guyanese Cyclist, (Jamual John) were recruited by the Foundation Cycling Team in New York to train with them in the United States to improve their skill to prepare for possible qualification for the 2020 Olympics. The Olympics have been re-scheduled for 2021.
“COVID-19, however, had other plans and amongst other events, all sporting activities were cancelled. We decided to return home to Guyana to be with our families at this time,” informed Michael.
Seeing the construction of a Velodrome here is whole other matter. Since the death of President Forbes Burnham in 1985 none the Governments has placed any real emphasis on the development of sports in Guyana.
“I would like to see a Velodrome built here in Guyana so we can start developing our skills and competing worldwide in that aspect of cycling and would really like to see more opportunities to facilitate cyclists who chose cycling as their profession or lifestyle,” said the Linden Bauxite Flyers rider.
Michael was born in the Mining Town of Linden in Region 10 on August 15, 1996 to Nigel and Semone Anthony and is one of six siblings including one sister whom he calls his “princess” that is until his baby niece was born and took over that title.
Primarily a ‘Road Cyclist’, Michael attended the Watooka Day Primary School, Mackenzie High School, Linden Technical Institute and was attracted to riding from a very young age.
“Life for me growing-up was the normal, everyday after school I always looked forward to going home just so I could get to be with my friends and find different sports to take part in amongst other things.
But racing up and down the streets with any bike or equipment with wheels which my friends and I could get our hands on, was the most exciting,” revealed Michael.
At Primary school the multi-talented youngster participated in athletics before transitioning from a middle distance runner to a cyclist in his early Secondary School years.
“I always liked riding. Back in the days, the boys in my family got the nickname “bobby rid
dell- ride well” since we could not see a bike and leave it alone.
Most times, once someone visited us with a bike my brother, Montell (my partner in crime and who cycled as well back in my junior days) we would take it for a spin and if by chance two bikes came, well then its race day for us.
After I was gifted with a bike by a friend in my late Primary School years, I started riding to school and racing each and every cyclist on my 10-mile trip to and from school each day.
My family hated the idea, however they trusted me to be safe on the roadways,” disclosed Michel whose favourite food chowmein.
After watching the likes of Mark Lewis, Michael Nelson, Al Green, Rastaf O’Selmo and Orville Hinds among others back in 2010. He decided to start training with hopes to race with them one day. Hinds was one of the best cyclist from Linden and Guyana.
In 2015 in Barbados, only Hinds (14th) and Michael (15) of the four-member Guyana team completed the gruelling 90-mile road race at the Caribbean Elite Cycling Championships in Barbados which was won by Jamaican, Marloe Rodman.
“I’m a road cyclist since Guyana does not have a Velodrome. But I was fortunate to ride on one such track in Trinidad in 2015 where I was awarded the most outstanding Category 2 Cyclist.
Track racing is fun and I would love to do it again someday, this time representing Guyana on an International Stage such as the Olympics and World Championships,” said Michel, who first represented Guyana in 2011.
He has had the opportunity to ride in Suriname, the Dominican Republic, Anguilla, Aruba, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, French Guiana, Cuba and the US – New York and his favorite Sportsmen are; Boxer Muhamad Ali, Jamaican sprinter Usain bolt and cyclists Lance Armstrong, Fabian Cancellara and Mark Cavendish.
“My favorite sportsmen are persons that impacted the world of sports greatly as I would like to do someday.
Cycling is not just a sport it is a lifestyle since training is almost all year round, five to six days a week, averaging 3-5 hours a day. We do it and more, since it is what we love. We want to be the best and to leave an impact wherever our wheel touches,” added the Carlton Wheelers Cycle Club member.
“There are various styles of riding to which one can adapt in cycling for example, setting pace, sprinting, climbing, I chose to be an all-rounder as I trained myself to do all, but sprinting is still my favourite and I see it as the best skill in the sport,” Michael continued.
I have a few memorable races but the Junior Caribbean Cycling Championships held in the Dominican Republic was my first big moment.
Being 16 years of age, not only did I win but I came in solo to cop Gold in the juvenile category. It was my first big meet representing Guyana and my team and I produced an excellent performance.
Guyana got two gold medals, a bronze and 4th which made it all more memorable,” added Michael.
The first race he ever won was a mountain bike race in a cycling event in Linden back in 2010.
“I cannot remember my first juvenile win but I do remember my best and that was becoming the Juvenile Caribbean Cycling Champion in 2012 and a week after my first ever senior win at just 16 years old, in the National Park,” Michael proudly remembered.
He also spoke of benefits the truncated US trip.
“In terms of representing Guyana, the programme would have helped to improve our performance. Once back in Guyana we will still be allowed to participate in our National Championships and also in various cycling events when called upon.
The standard of cycling is on the rise in my opinion due to the fact that key players are being exposed to more intense cycling abroad which will boost their performance.
Those key players returning to Guyana help in more ways than one; the knowledge and techniques gained are shared with other fellow cyclists. The invitation of overseas cyclists to Guyana also helps in boosting our overall level in cycling,” said Michael.
“For me due to the coronavirus pandemic, training has been reduced and I am still training because I love the sport, however, it is difficult to commit to a rigorous training routine with no sight of competition and goal in mind for a specific type of training to get there.
Training for me is the hard part of cycling and if I train hard enough then racing gets easier. So with no race in sight right now, it is more of just riding to keep fit and enjoying my bike rather than intense training,” Michael explained.
He would also like to see more people getting involved in the sport; cyclists, fans, support and sponsors since cycling is a very expensive sport.
“It is also hard and expensive to train, working hours to compete internationally to represent our Country Guyana which we love so dearly.
Cycling is more of a team sport and without the assistance of key persons to support you, motivate you and look out for you, it is going to be much harder to get where you want to be in cycling. Preparing and undergoing rigorous training to be the best, cyclists need support from their Sponsors as they become part of your Team,” continued Michael.
Michael said his Dad is his number one Sponsor and continues to give of his best since his involvement in the sport.
“I would like to publicly thank you Dad for all your efforts which are very much appreciated. And to my Mom, my brothers Nigel Jr., Montell, Kareem, Keanu and my sister Kemaya Anthony, they all played a part in many ways over the years.
I must also include my grandparents and one of my biggest fans, my aunt, Coreen Norville, who always keep up-to-date with my every move and lends support whenever she can.
I have also had a lot of help from my past clubs which includes my home Club, Linden Bauxite Flyers, Team Cocos which is managed by Mr. Davis, Team Evolution, Heatwave of Trinidad and Coach Edward Watson, Velo Club Sinnamary of French Guiana, and most recently Carlton Wheelers Cycling Club and the Foundation Cycling Team of the New York,” the Lindener concluded.
Michael thanked everyone else who have supported his cycling journey which is on an upward climb.
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