A world renowned female pedal pusher who recently visited St Lucia, could be just what the doctor ordered to get more St Lucians addicted to cycling.
Top Venezuelan cyclist Daniela Larreal whose achievements include being World, Central American, Pan American and South America Champion, took part in a sports and recreational activity on Sunday. The event which got underway at about 7:30 am from the William Peter Boulevard and attracted cyclists young and old, was spearheaded by the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in conjunction with the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in St Lucia, the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports and the St Lucia Cycling Association (SLCA).
No doubt about it participants including Minister for Youth Development and Sports, Shawn Edward and President of SLCA, Cyril Mangal, were thrilled to go along for the ride with Larreal. She is a five time Olympian and also competed in the mother of all cycling events-The Tour de France.
Following the start of event, cyclists made their way from the William Peter Boulevard and headed to Pigeon Point and back. The ride was a casual affair intended to promote physical activity and sport.
The Minister of Sports said: “I am very happy to have been part of the ride this morning. It is usually good to have ministers present to set activities off, but today I wanted to go further than just encouraging young athletes from St Lucia to be part of this. I wanted to demonstrate that it could be done and hope my participation in today’s ride will send a message to the wider population, to encourage St Lucians to get involved in physical activity and sports.”
Mangal was delighted to have Daniela here and is counting on her presence not only promoting but uplifting the sport especially in one critical area. It’s no secret that female cyclists are rare in St Lucia. The SLCA President feels Larreal’s presence will definitely give female cycling a boost.
Mangal estimated that roughly 65 cyclists turned out and pointed out that riders come from as far as Mon Repos and Vieux Fort.
Larreal who spoke through an interpreter was surprised to see so many women and children not only ride but complete the route. She would like nothing better than to see St Lucia succeed on the international stage and expressed a desire to lend a helping hand.
“My country and I are willing to assist so that St Lucia can have representation at the Pan American Games and other competitions,” said Larreal. “For me it will be a very proud moment when four or five years from now St Lucia will compete at international games.”