NEARLY seven years after he was dismissed by former Minister of Sport Anil Roberts, American Erin Hartwell has been re-hired by the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) as the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation's (TTCF) technical director.
A media release from SPORTT stated that the six-time World and Olympic medallist's contract will cover the period September 2017 until the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will have ”responsibility for the management, administration and programming for the sport, as well as the lead on coaching development and high performance” while he is based at the National Cycling Velodrome.
Hartwell had sued the SPORTT and the TTCF for wrongful dismissal as high performance director back in 2010 after his contract was terminated after six months into six months into a two-year contract after SPORTT had notified the then TTCF executive they would no longer be providing funding to cover Hartwell's $40,000 per month salary. But even while the matter was still before the Industrial Court, the TTCF remained hopeful of re-hiring their former employee who went on to have success as Canada's track sprint head coach.
“He still has great love for T&T so it is hopeful that somewhere in the future that we can continue the negotiations with him,” TTCF president Robert Farrier had told the Express back in 2015.
In the release, Hartwell was reported to be upbeat and excited. “I'm happy to be back in Trinidad & Tobago. There is a wealth of talent here that must be honed, on and off the track. The Velodrome is a positive addition to the cycling architecture in this country and will certainly be the backdrop of everything we do from now until the 2020 Olympics.”
Those sentiments are a striking contrast to his reaction when Roberts unceremoniously dismissed him in November 2010, Yesterday's release did not indicate Hartwell's salary for this contract. The then high-performance manager, hired by the TTCF on May 29, 2010, disputed Roberts' assertion that he was not qualified and felt misrepresented by TTCF officials, including current president Robert Farrier, to the then Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs in a November 2010 meeting preceeding his dismissal. Hartwell had also said he was “hurt” and “disappointed” by the TTCF's inability to present a proper case for him. Farrier had told Roberts in that meeting that Hartwell was unqualified and his organisation had made a mistake in hiring the American.
Hartwell was in fact a qualified USA Cycling Level Two coach and was awaiting 2011 to attain Level One, the highest level offered by USA Cycling, following the expiration of a mandatory five-year period.
Hartwell, a world-class cyclist in the 1990s who has been involved in the sport for 31 years, also possesses a USA Cycling coaching licence and is a former Canada track sprint coach.
But the fences appeared to have been mended between Hartwell and the TTCF and Farrier was singing Hartwell's praises.
“This is an important step for cycling in Trinidad and Tobago. We now have the platform upon which to develop a rigorous and structured national programme from tinymite to elite and including coach development, which is critical to the sport's sustainability and growth. Erin's knowledge and experience will be invaluable and we appreciate his commitment to the sport in this country,” Farrier said in the release.
Hartwell, scheduled to arrive in September, is said to be already taking a keen interest in the country's top athletes in action against the best in the hemisphere during the Elite Pan Am Cycling Championships, currently underway at the Velodrome.