Cycling is not an easy sport: Williams believes physicality of sport a deterrent to females

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President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cycling Federation (ABCF), St Clair Williams.
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By Neto Baptiste

President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cycling Federation (ABCF), St Clair Williams, believes the intensity and the rigors associated with competitive cycling could be a deterrent to young female riders.

Williams, speaking recently on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, was responding to concerns over the consistently low number of female cyclists competing on the national level.

“Cycling is not an easy sport, and so you have to be really tough both mentally and physically, and some persons don’t want to go through because from time to time you’d have to be on the bike for two or three hours at a time putting in the training, and maybe some of the females don’t want to be out there so long on the bike, and that’s one thing, but recruitment continues. The schools programme is going to be one we’re looking into, and hopefully we’ll get some new recruits coming out on November 13,” he said.

Williams agreed that although the numbers in female cycling has always been low, there has been a significant dip over the years. The president said however, that this is not an isolated issue as many countries across the region and even internationally have been struggling with female participation.

Notwithstanding, Williams said the federation has been employing measures to encourage more female participation.

“We have had a system where we make bikes available and that is one of the areas that I know a number of cyclists or persons who want to ride complain about in terms of the cost of getting the bike, so we’ve made that available for female and junior cyclists, so the bike part of it is not an issue, it is just the recruiting and retaining of the athletes which is another thing,” he said.

The cycling boss warned however, that clubs must also play a part in ensuring the participation of females in the sport.

“It must start at the club level, so the clubs must go out and recruit cyclists whether it is male or female, and we at the executive level would try to facilitate the clubs with the different cyclists they bring to the table as much as we can, with the resources that we have. At the end of the day, most persons look to the executive to do the recruiting, but I think that should be done at the club level,” he said.

Numbers in the female category of races put on by the federation this year dipped to as low as one in many instances with participation peaking between two and three. The issue has however been a longstanding one with no immediate solution in sight.

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