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Friday, 2 August, 2002, 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK

The Bahamas' busy boys

By John Haughey
BBC Sport Online in Manchester

The cycling team from the Bahamas have been busy boys at these Commonwealth Games.

Johnny Hoyte, Barron Musgrove and youngster Jonathan Massie have competed in just about every men's cycling event - be it in the Velodrome in Manchester or out on the roads.

On Friday morning, the three men were having a go at the men's team sprint which consisted of each doing one 250-metre lap.

Saturday is likely to be a tad more exerting - 115 miles and 1,350 metres longer to be exact.

Hoyte, Musgrove and Massie brought up the rear in Friday's team heats.

"We are the forerunners in the sport for our country"
Barron Musgrove

Their time of 57.965 was more than 12 seconds behind the English trio led by Olympic champion Jason Queally.

But the Bahamians were far from downhearted and spoke afterwards in a spirit reminiscent of the Jamaican bobsleigh team whose 1988 Winter Olympics performance inspired the film Cool Runnings.

"We have to go to work five days a week," says Musgrove who is also secretary-general of the Bahamas Cycling Federation.

"We have to look after our families and try and squeeze in our training on a daily basis.

"What we have done here is an accomplishment in itself. For that we should be given the highest praise."

Twenty-one-year-old Massie was competing in an indoor velodrome for only the second time in his life.

His virgin laps had been performed the other day in Manchester while Musgrove and Hoyte had not competed on a track for nearly a year.

The Caribbean country does not have a velodrome of its own so the country's riders must prepare for track events by largely riding on the nation's relatively flat landscape.

Massie and Musgrove, aged 36 and 33, talk passionately of their mission to make the Bahamas a cycling force.

Difficult climbs

"We don't have the experience on the track but we have a youth programme at home so we have to get the experience here and bring it back," says Hoyte.

Musgrove adds that the youth programme is going to shoot Bahamas cycling "into the sky".

"We are the forerunners in the sport for our country," he adds.

"I can promise you this - in Melbourne in 2006 the Bahamas is going to reign," insists Musgrove.

Half-an-hour after Friday's heats, the trio were already looking forward to Saturday's road race where they believed they could make their biggest impact.

"In our own minds we consider ourselves gold medallists"
Musgrove, again

"I don't know that much about the calibre of the opposition although I hear we've got guys from the Tour de France but I think we'll have our best ride of the Games on the road," reckons Hoyte.

"The climbs will be difficult - it's so flat in the Bahamas that the water comes across the road," he adds.

Musgrove interjects that all sports in the Bahamas face a constant battle for funding with "very little sponsorship and no lottery there".

Cuban link

However, the country's excellent performance at these Games, with four golds and as many bronzes by Friday afternoon, will boost the case for additional resources for sport.

If and when the money does arrive, Musgrove's grand vision for the sport will come into effect.

"We're going to try and establish some kind of relations with the Cubans, our closest neighbours, through in the UCI (International Cycling Union) where we can send our young cyclists in the summer breaks to train and to study.

"At the moment we have so many obstacles to overcome. But merely by reaching the Games, in our own minds we consider ourselves gold medallists."

It is hard to disagree.


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