Making history: Cyclist Neely to train in Colombia

Felix Neely is flanked by BCF executives Roy Colebrooke, Barron Musgrove and Shirley Mireault, along with fellow cyclists at Church of the Holy Trinity.

Felix Neely is flanked by BCF executives Roy Colebrooke, Barron Musgrove and Shirley Mireault, along with fellow cyclists at Church of the Holy Trinity.


Felix Neely with Eddie Bethell (left) and John Cox (right).


Senior Sports Reporter


FELIX Neely, considered to be one of the future stars of cycling in the Bahamas, has been afforded a rare opportunity to travel to Colombia to train, making history as the first Bahamian to do so in a South American country.

Neely, a 15-year-old 10th grader at CR Walker Secondary High, is slated to leave town on Thursday for Colombia where he will spend the next three months training with the Colombian junior national programme. He is scheduled to return home on March 24.

Maria Campbell, of Cycles Unlimited, who helped to organise the deal through their Enjoy! Cycling Club and the Bahamas Cycling Federation, said the trip could not have been designed for a more deserving young cyclist in the country.

Campbell said when they got in touch with one of their members, Juan Polito, who came from Colombia to work on the Cotton Bay Project in Eleuthera, they were able to strike a deal to enable Neely to train there when he returned to Colombia.

“They know Felix. He’s a guy with a lot of heart and determination. He’s a really good cyclist and a very good boy,” said Campbell, whose company employs Neely on a part-time basis. “Originally, we wanted Felix to go during the summer, so he won’t miss school. “But they said it won’t work for them because it’s the height of their season when they are competition. They felt this would be the best time for him to come. His school agreed to let him go and they would be providing him with his workout and class assignments to complete while in Colombia.”

Neely, who will be making the trek alone, will be living with a young cyclist from Colombia with his family.

“We’re looking forward to him being immersed in the culture, getting to know their language and cycling,” Campbell said. “We’re really excited for him. He loves cycling and I’m looking forward to him seeing things from a different prospective of another country.”

Enjoy! Cycling Club has been around for about seven years and former cyclist John Cox is the president.

“I think it’s great. Maria was able to generate so much support for him because this is an opportunity of a lifetime,” Cox said.

“So for him to get this kind of cultural exchange to train and live in Colombia for about three months is something that he will get to talk about for the rest of his life and certainly the kids, who are his peers, can only envision getting the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.”

As a promising young cyclist, Cox said Neely will get a chance to help build and develop a culture in cycling that would open the door for many more youngsters to want to new get involved in and not just gravitate to the popular sports like track and basketball.

“We need to be thinking about how we can get more kids involved in positive stuff and cycling is definitely a sport that they can become a part of and enhance their talent,” Cox said. “This can open the door for so much more for the sport of cycling.”

From the federation’s point of view, secretary general Barron ‘Turbo’ Musgrove said they are always looking for opportunities to enable their junior and elite cyclists to improve by training or competing overseas.

“When Maria and Joy approached the federation about partnering with them to assists Felix, we couldn’t say no,” Musgrove said. “For me personally, Felix is like my son. I knew hi from his was a little boy.

“So that in itself gave me great joy to see the support from the cycling body for a young cyclists like that. That makes you feel like you’ve done something positive. But this is also a great opportunity now for us to connect with the Colombian organization and team group.”

Musgrove said they are certain that Neely will be in great hands because of the reputation that Polito established when he was in the Bahamas, assisting the federation and putting on his own cycling events.

“We’re hoping that this relationship can mushroom in to something where we can establish a scholarship fund where we can send other junior cyclists, or other cyclists on the whole to train and compete in Colombia and for the Colombians to come here and do the same thing,” Musgrove disclosed.

“Colombia is par excellent. They have produced some of the best cyclists in the world. In this region, Colombia separates themselves when it comes to competing in road and track. So our federation gave 100 percent support behind this move. We are so grateful for this initiative by Enjoy! to have this vision to enable Felix Neely to travel to Colombia to train.”

This year, Neely was able to demonstrate his maturity in the sport as he got to compete in a series of events.

He started off by winning the junior division of the 42-mile road race on April 22. On May 25, out of a field of 40 competitors, he came fourth in the 4th annual Tour De Lootra Ride that was held on Eleuthera.

In the New Providence Cycling Association’s 35-mile road race on June 24, Neely again captured the junior title and he ended up fourth overall alongside six of the masters competitors.

At the federation’s King of the Mountain Challenge on October 20, Neely was the junior champion and he got second overall. And he showed some versatility the next weekend as he competed for the Stallions Club, winning the cross country championship title.


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