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Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK

African riders back on their bikes

Cyclists from the Gambia and Kenya who arrived for the Commonwealth Games without bikes have been supplied with new racing machines.

Gambian pair Mamudou Bah and Eliman Jammeh will both be competing in the road race for the first time in Manchester.

"The bikes have been custom-built exactly to the athletes' height and weight "
George Gomez,
Gambia chef de mission

"Their regular cycles were never going to be of a suitable standard to be competitive in the road race here," said chef de mission for the Gambia, George Gomez.

"So our Manchester-based team assistant, Charles Jackson, stepped in to help,

"He made some enquiries and sourced a Preston bike shop - Ribble Cycles - which did us a very good deal on the bikes."

The shop also arranged some helmets, windbreakers and shoes for the cyclists.

"The good thing is that, although bikes of this calibre are not readily available back home, we can get access to spare components in Dakar if and when we need them.

"The bikes have been custom-built exactly to the athletes' height and weight and it will take Mamudou and Eliman just a few days to get used to them.

"They have no doubt that if Charles and the bike supplier had not assisted as they did, they would simply not have been able to take part.

Kenyans saved

"We hope Mamudou and Eliman will do very well and we know they will be motivated by the equipment."

The Kenyan cycling team have also been saved, by a Manchester-based bike shop.

Harry Hall Cycles has agreed to lend the four-strong squad from Kenya some top-of-the-range bikes for the Games.

"I got a phone call from the Commonwealth Games officials saying the Kenyan team had arrived without their bikes," said shop owner Graham Hall.

Hall was initially unsure about loaning out any bikes, but contacted one of his suppliers, Specialized Bikes.

Specialized agreed to send four bikes for the Kenyan team to use during the Games.

"I asked them why they didn't just get their own bikes fixed, but it turns out they can't get the equipment over there," said Hall.

"And they had spent all their money on the flights to England anyway.

"They were a really nice bunch of lads so I got them some T-shirts and posters and plenty of stuff to take home with them."

Harry Hall Cycles has started an appeal to help out cyclists back in Kenya by donating second hand race equipment.

If you would like to help email graham@harryhall.co.uk.


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