By Neto Baptiste
National cyclist and 2011 Sportswoman of the Year, Tamiko Butler, believes that hosting events that are exclusive to women riders could prove an effective method in expanding the pool of female riders in Antigua.
Speaking recently on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Butler said that based on personal experience, female riders tend to become disinterested if they are not able to compete with their male counterparts.
“To be able to bring more girls into the sport, you need to create more circuit races, smaller loops that they are going to be able to go on, so that eventually, when they are hitting the road for a race that you getting challenged by Robert Marsh and whosoever is riding those big races, then the girls have their own group and they would end off riding together,” she said.
Butler, who won several national time trial and road race championships spanning 2009 to 2016, suggested that the creation of grass tracks could also aid in attracting young and potential female riders.
“It is not that expensive to make and people that come off of grass track riding will tell you it’s a much cheaper sport because the bikes that you are riding have one gear. It is not as expensive because they don’t have all of the components of the road, and that is the way to develop your riders because from there you will see talent,” the athlete said.
During her reign, Butler who now resides in Trinidad, was a dominant force in female cycling and often competed with and held her own amongst the male cyclists.
The former professional rider with the UK-based Drops Women’s Cycling team, said that for many young riders, cost of equipment could also be a major factor.
“It is a lot easier to buy somebody a pair of running shoes, a pair of spikes and you go and run on the track than it is to buy a bike, a helmet and a cycling shoes. If you are talking about younger kids and younger girls getting involved, for parents, cycling is not an attractive sport unless you’re really seeing talent in your child that has you saying wow, my child is really natural on the bike,” she said.
Butler represented Antigua and Barbuda at the 2011 Pan American Games in the road race and time trial and also at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the road race, individual pursuit, points race and scratch race.