By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Darel Christopher Jr. made history on Wednesday, September 26, when he became the territory’s first cyclist to compete in the International Cycling Union World Cycling Championships in Innsbruck, Austria.
Christopher Jr.’s achievement comes 16 years after David Thomas got BVI cycling affiliated with British Cycling and the during the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Cycling has now joined track and field, sailing and swimming as the territory’s fourth sport with its athletes competing in its respective World Championships.
In May, Christopher Jr. qualified for Worlds during the Pan Am Championships in Argentina, where he made the time trials qualifier.
“Everyone there had the same goal in mind—try to qualify for your country,” he noted. “I was in the race with 2 kilometers to go and there was a big crash. I was in the crash but luckily I didn’t go down, but by the time I got back on the pace they were already crossing the line. I finished in the 60s of more than 100 riders. I was hatppy with my result, because I was there the whole time until that crash.”
He said he has been healthy all season and that Pan Am race was his best race of the season, despite the crash as he was among the top 20 before the crash and was in peak form.
“I think if it wasn’t for the crash, I could have finished in the top 10,” he said. “Who knows what would have happened, but that was my best race and I definitely felt good.”
For Christopher Jr., who is pointing towards the 2019 UCI World Track Cycling Championships in February, it was a successful campaign.
“My year has been great, because everything I set out to accomplish in 2018, I accomplished it last week in Austria,” Christopher Jr. told Island Sun Sports. “Things went great. My goal was to qualify for Worlds and I made it. It really means a lot to represent your country because it takes a lot. A lot of people globally try to qualify and fail. Basically, only the big dogs qualify, because it’s very hard.”
The young cyclist said the journey took hours and hours of training day in and day out, going through various climatic changes. Despite having mechanical failures, he was satisfied to finish 56/61 riders, though he lost valuable time.
“I gained a lot of experience,” he said. “When you go to the World Championships—there’s nothing bigger than that and it means a lot to me—you see guys and look at their equipment and I definitely need better equipment. I got mine last minute from guys who I’ve known for 2-3 years who reached out to me, and said they wanted me to go with better equipment that what I had and I was thankful for that. My next go around, I’ll need to have better equipment, so I definitely walked away with a lot of experience.”