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Youth emphasis for Pan Am Champs

By Kern De Freitas kern.defreitas@trinidadexpress.com

The Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF) is placing its faith in its young riders for the upcoming Pan American Championships, which pedal off on February 5 in Mexico.

The T&T team, comprising teenagers Jodi Goodridge, her cousin Kwesi Browne and Justin Roberts, along with seasoned speedster Azikiwe Kellar, all sprinters, and endurance rider Varun Maharajh will leave T&T for the Championships on February 4.

Goodridge, 18, became the first female T&T cyclist to break the 13.500-second barrier in the 500-metre time trial event, also the automatic qualifying standard, with a 13.439 seconds clocking. Nineteern-year-old Browne's 11.336 ride was better than the men's qualifying mark of 11.350.

Junior rider Roberts' 11.469 was short of that time, but the 17-year-old earned the racing committee's nod due to his promising performances, and in order to give him more exposure as he prepares for the Junior Pan American Championships in the Dominican Republic in July.

Maharajh is the only endurance cyclist on the team. He fell short in the four-kilometre pursuit event during national trials at the Arima Velodrome last week. Maharajh was also barely outside the five-minute qualifying standard in the 15km scratch race, but was selected for that event based on his consistency.

T&T manager/coach, Gregory D'Andrade is hoping for a good showing from the team, although he acknowledged that they will face stiff competition from Colombian and Venezuelan rivals.

"Kwesi Browne is a young junior who just got promoted. You have Roberts, Kellar with the experience. I hope they place in the top four."

Haseem McLean, who was competing internationally at the time of the trials, was not considered for the team. Dandrade explained that McLean did not meet the TTCF's criteria.

"We had two (TTCF Keep Fit events) before," Dandrade pointed out. "He did not ride any. You must ride either the two Keep Fits or the trials (to be considered for the team), and he did not."

Dandrade is also backing the T&T junior team to have a good 2013.

"We expect the junior team this year to bring all the medals home. We will be sending a big junior team (to the Dominican Republic). We're trying to give them the exposure from now," he stated.

The Pan Am Champs team, which also includes mechanic Roger Smart and chaperone Betty Daniel, will return home on February 11.

Team T&T:

Azikiwe Kellar, Kwesi Browne, Justin Roberts, Jodi Goodridge, Varun Maharajh; Gregory Dandrade (manager/coach), Betty Daniel (chaperone), Roger Smart (mechanic)

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