International debut just the start for cyclist Forbes

Nathaniel Forbes represents a success story for the Cayman Islands Cycling Association. The 16-year old was the overall local champion in 2018 and is the reigning junior champion. After showing great potential on the local circuit, he got his first taste of international competition this summer.

He competed at the 13th Caribbean Junior Cycling Championships in Guyana in August.

“From that event young Forbes has gained an invaluable wealth of experience at his first time to high level competition,” noted a release from the CICA. “He faced the very best Junior Caribbean cyclist in the region, some of which campaign in the USA and are of a higher calibre that holds an advantage.”

Forbes, the cousin of Olympian Ronald Forbes, raced both in the Individual Time Trial and a gruelling 52-mile road race in which he placed 8th in both events.

It was not just racing internationally that provided something new for the young cyclist. For the first time, he had to race on hills, something that Cayman’s flat terrain does not provide. However, he overcame with advice from his coach, Ken Gokool, a Trinidadian who now resides in the Cayman Islands and volunteering his cycling experience with the cycling association.

Forbes, 5th from right, had a solid showing on his international debut.

Two weeks prior to the championships, Nathaniel was accompanied by veteran cyclist and Olympian Michele “Mitch” Smith for a two-day race event in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Smith rode with him to help him with his positioning as this was his first time racing with more experience riders than what Cayman has to offer. After his return from, Forbes’ training was followed up by four days of intense preparation training sessions with Gokool to become accustomed on facing attacks within the peloton and racing uphill.

CICA President, Craig Merren, Oly, said he was very pleased with the results as Forbes did exceptionally well despite his lack of experience and limited training.

Merren said both Smith and Gokool will be working with Nathanial (or any other new junior cyclists) for upcoming international events and have already set their eyes on preparing him to do very well at the 2020 Caribbean Junior Championships and other cycling events in the Caribbean region.

Thanks also went out from Merren to Jerome Ameline, who got Nathaniel started in the sport and still works with the young cyclist at times.

This was Cayman’s second time sending off a junior, last year Josh Weaver, a long time junior on the Cayman cycling scene, also competed.

Having these young cyclists compete is a win for the association, as it seeks to infuse more young talent into its ranks. The hope is their growth will trigger the interest of others to get actively involved in the sport.

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