Cyclists Christopher Jr., Talbot debuting in Commonwealth Games

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Caption: Sam Talbot, left and Darel Christopeher Jr. making Commonwealth Games debut

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

Darel Christopher Jr. and Sam Talbot, will return BVI cycling to the Commonwealth Games for the first time since Neil Thomas’ debut in Melbourne, Australia in 2006, when they tackle the 37Km/23 miles time trial on August 4,  then the 160km/100 miles road race on August 7, in Birmingham, England.

Christopher Jr. and Talbot, are among the 19 athletes in four sports in the BVI’s 9th appearance in the Games and 15 of the 19 participants are debutants. 3×3 Women’s Basketball is also making its Games debut.

“It’s a great opportunity to represent my country. For years, that’s all I wanted to do—represent my country—because this is where I’m from and to get the opportunity is pretty good,” Christopher Jr.,” who was overlooked for the 2010 Games in India told Island Sun Sports, nothing that he had a meeting with the BVI Olympic Committee, discussing moving forward from the past snub and making sports in general better. “In both the time trial and road race, I’m looking for a top 10 finish.”

After departing the BVI for Nice, France following a recent visit, Christopher Jr. said he would be working on his time trial skills and getting his speed up. He’s also looking forward to having Talbot so they can work and support each other and work out strategies.

“Even with the two of us, we’re still at a handicap,” he pointed out. “The biggest teams are England, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. They’re going to be stacked with six riders, but it’s still some sort of help so it should be fun. Definitely looking forward to it.”

Christopher Jr. said his preparation had been “long hours with a lot of intervals” and short intensity  workouts. On the climbs, he said he’d ride for 10 minutes in Zone 4, rest 10 minutes, take a 5 minutes break and a series of shorter intervals in the climb at 10%.  

“It’s just go, go, go, hours of drills because at this level, it’s just constantly going and going so the training is preparing you for stage racing over two weeks,” he noted. “It never gets easier. It gets harder and harder but I love it. If you don’t love it, you can forget it. Mentally, it can kill you.”

Talbot, who is training in Spain, said his preparations have been going well and his coaches are happy with his progress report. Over the last several weeks, his training has shifted from the long endurance rides to short high intensity races focused on preparation. “They’re a lot more painful, but that’s how you get better,” he said.

Talbot said the thing he’s looking forward to the most at the Games is the experience. “You’re going to be on the start line with some of the biggest names in the sport –guys who were riding in the ‘Tour de France—to be on the start like with those guys and to be a part of the race with people at that level, is going to be exciting,” Talbot said. “Obviously, I’m not in a position to compete with riders who are competing on multimillion dollar teams and have made a career out of it, but, I’m really excited to be competing against other nations of our size and abilities—other Caribbean islands, African nations other small islands from around the world—that’s who I’m pitting myself against, in terms of results, but the experience as  whole, will be really cool.”

Talbot, who represented the BVI at the Optimist World Sailing Championships in Spain as a youth and has fond memories of the event, described the Games as ‘the biggest experience’ of his life, one he’ll always remember. While he has committed to working, athletics is something he has kept in touch with in surfing, windsurfing, sailing and cycling. Sports is something he wanted to commit himself to and for the last three months, he has done nothing but riding, recovering, focusing on his nutrition.

“It really means a lot to me to have the opportunity and be given the opportunity to do something like this for my country and for myself,” he said.

Commonwealth Games action for the BVI kicked off with Squash on Thursday. Today will be Women’s 3×3 Basketball and followed by Track and Field on Aug 2. Cycling  Time Trial is set for Aug 4.

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