JIS News

Olympic cyclist Ricardo Lynch, is appealing to corporate Jamaica and other entities to assist him in realising his dream of winning a medal for Jamaica at the 2012 Olympics in London, England.
“I want to do 2012 but I need corporate Jamaica to help me and I need more assistance from the local governing bodies. That would make a big difference in my career,” he says in an interview with JIS News.
Over the years Lynch, who has been training in Switzerland since 2004, has found the exercise of securing sponsorship to be a frustrating experience. “It’s the same message every time, sorry our budget is over this and that,” he laments.
At a signing ceremony in September, where the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) named Lynch the face of its Energy Conservation Campaign, Minister of Energy, Clive Mullings, said he was surprised that the dedicated young athlete was having trouble securing sponsorship.
“It was at the Mo’bay Rotary Club cycling event, which goes on every year where Dwight Moore of the Jamaica Cycling Federation saw me, and said: ‘Minister I have a young man that needs some support’. He indicated that young Ricardo Lynch, on his own, because of his love for Cycling, was in Switzerland and doing so much to excel and was excelling and he didn’t have any support to do so. I couldn’t believe it,” the Minister said. “To take yourself up, to take on the world at tremendous expense and to do so well, to my way of thinking, means that he is more than just a face. He represents the values of what we should extol in our young people,” he added.
Ricardo Lynch became the first Jamaican cyclist in 16 years to compete at an Olympics, when he represented the country at the just concluded Games in Beijing, China. He competed in the Keirin, an eight-lap event, which covers 2,000 metres on a 250-metre track. He placed 17th out of 25 riders.
While he did not medal at the Olympics, 2008 was still a successful season for Lynch, who captured a silver medal at the World Cup in Denmark and a gold medal at the Moscow Grand Prix. The young cyclist believes that given the improvement that he has made over the years, his medal prospects for the 2012 games are very good.
“If I don’t get too fat I think it will be really, really, good” he jokes before affirming: “I think my prospects will be solid because my coach Renee Smidt from Germany said that in the short space of time that we were working together, which is a year, if I can improve like this, he wants a second year for us to work together and see how far we can push it”.
“When he first arrived, I was already at a high level but when you change training your body goes down and you need to come back up. I went from 10.6 seconds to 10.1 seconds, that’s more than half a second on a bike and that’s a big difference and a lot of training,” Ricardo reveals.
He informs further that last year, “I got two top fives and a second place in the Kierin, so I think really I could lead the Kierin event in the World Cup series”.
Ricardo’s medal prospects and future success is much more than talk. He is the personification of self belief and determination, two of the more essential qualities that an athlete must have if he/she is going to perform at the highest level.
“In 1996, I was watching the Atlanta Olympics on the television and I said to my cousin that one day I’m going to be at the Olympics, I don’t know which sport but I’m just going to be there and so from that day on I have been pursuing the Olympic dream and seeing what I could make of it”, he says in reference to the genesis of his ambition to compete in the Olympics.
He tells JIS News, that in pursuit of his dream he started competitive cycling at age 17. “When I started doing the local races, I would win, not easily, but I would win. Then I got some international exposure. The first that I got was going to Barbados and I also won races over there and I was like wow, this looks like something I can take on the international scale because there were Italians there, there were Germans and I was pretty much with them, and so I said that’s good, lets try for the international stuff,” he recalls.
Since then, Ricardo has had to make a lot of sacrifices, and commits to training with a sort of missionary zeal, to ascend to a ranking of 14th in the world entering the recently concluded Olympics.
“It does take a lot of discipline and focus and a lot of sacrifice. If you are one person who is not patient and unwilling to sacrifice some things in life, then you are not going to make it. If you want to go to that level, the Olympics, it’s going to take twice a day training sometimes 8-9 hours of training every day. So that is the kind of sacrifice you have to go through to reach here,” he passionately asserts.
A testament to this was his response to the question ‘how has your life changed since the Olympics? “Well, I wasn’t actually living a life before but I would consider that now that the Olympics have gone I can take in a lot more that Jamaica has to offer me. For the past four years I have not listened to any (Jamaican music) because you have to put yourself in a zone …now I’m getting the new reggae and dancehall stuff so life seems okay again,” he responds.
For the past four years in Switzerland, Ricardo has had to adhere to an intense training programme. “On a typical day I get up in the morning, eat breakfast, the same breakfast every morning because you have to do a certain protein. It starts from 7:00 a.m,, you go to classes to learn the language then you do gym for 21/2 hrs. Then you have an hour and a half rest in between before you go on the bike for about three or four hours of training either road or track”, he informs.
“It is very intense, physically and mentally because at all times you have to be concentrating on that effort; how you move, how you pedal, everything, how you execute your effort,” he continues.
For now, Ricardo can take his foot off the pedal for a few months while he balances his cycling career with his pursuit to become a pilot. Currently, he is enrolled at the Cesna Pilot School at the Tinson Pen Aerodrome.
“Balancing school and being an Olympian is not so hard now. Right now, my coach gave me a couple months off to refresh my brain and go and get my career going so that when I finish cycling I can go back to something and start a life,” he notes.
“So, we are in agreement to give me six-eight months depending on how long the course is going to be and then go back to training. But now, I’m just doing cross training like jogging in the morning leading up to an hour and a half sometimes with couple push-ups, abdominals etc. just to keep the condition so I don’t have to start from scratch when I go back to training”, the Olympian further comments.
Ricardo hopes that his pursuit of a career outside of cycling will underscore to other athletes and youngsters the importance of a having a plan ‘B’ to guard against the possibility of an injury.
“In sports, you know, it takes one second, just that split second; that one wrong movement on the leg or whatever.and it could cost you your career. I can use my own experience in this because I had an injury last year ..and it cost me six weeks trying to get it better. So it kind of gave me that perspective that if something had happened at a larger scale then I wouldn’t have anything to fall back on so that’s why I’m taking that initial step to get something in,” the cyclist tells JIS News.
At 24 years old, Lynch is a graduate of Jamaica College where he attained seven CXC passes. He is hoping that more organisations and Jamaicans in general will increase their investment in youth development.
“To the private and public organisations, the people of Jamaica, I say to you, keep waving the flag high but don’t just wave the flag, get involved in sponsorship. Sponsor programmes in communities that can help young women and men for the future,” he appeals.
Cycling is the only other sport apart from track and field in which Jamaica has medalled at an Olympic Games. At the 1980 Games in Moscow, David Weller cycled to a bronze for Jamaica.