Desmond Dickie’s name is synonymous with cycling.
The Canadian resident for the last 51 years has coached several of this country’s top riders, including Steve Bauer, who won the first medal – silver – in road cycling for Canada at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and Canada’s Pan Am team chef de mission, Curt Harnett, who he successfully encouraged to become a sprinter.
Dickie has also worked with Trinidad & Tobago cyclist Gene “Geronimo” Samuel, who captured a gold medal in the 1,000-metre time trial at the 1991 Pan Am Games in Havana, Cuba.
The twin-island republic coach since 2011, Dickie is counting on sprinter Njisane Phillip medalling in this summer’s Pan Am Games in the Toronto and Greater Golden Horseshoe region.
“While Njisane is only 23, still very young in the sport and not as experienced as most of the riders he’s competing against, he’s world-class,” Dickie, the uncle of T & T president Anthony Carmona, told Share. “He’s the best cyclist in Trinidad & Tobago right now and there’s no doubt about that. He’s also getting faster.”
Dickie plans to use the new velodrome in Couva and some Grand Prix races in the United States and Europe to prepare the T & T team, which is expected to be finalized by the end of the month. A total of five riders are eligible to represent the country at the Pan Am Games.
Last January, Phillip and other T & T riders were introduced to the Milton velodrome, which will host the Pan Am/Parapan Games cycling events. They took part in the three-day Milton International Challenge.
Located at the base of the Niagara Escarpment, the velodrome has a 250-metre timber track with two 42-degree banks. The oval shaped, three-story facility is the only one of its kind in Canada and just the second in North America that meets top international standards.
Dickie said the Milton velodrome is comparable to the best in the world.
“Mexico has the best velodromes and the National Cycling Centre track in Britain is also right up there,” he said. “This facility is first-class, people-friendly and very impressive. All velodromes are basically standard. What makes this one stand out is that there are washroom facilities everywhere you turn. That may not seem like something big, but it is to athletes.”
As a 16-year-old, Dickie rode for T & T prior to coming to Canada to further his studies. He also represented Canada before a badly broken leg ended his career. While recovering from the injury, former Ontario Cycling Association chair and coach, Claudio Ponte, asked Dickie to assist with training his riders that included Bauer.
A provincial coach for eight years, Dickie was Canada’s assistant national track coach for four years before serving as head coach from 1984 to 1993. He was also T & T’s coach for a year in 1995-96, a United States head sprint coach and a member of the Chinese coaching team for three years before assuming his current role with the T & T Cycling Federation.
While Canada is home, Dickie enjoys his time on the road honing young riders’ skills.
“I am having fun helping the young people achieve their goals in the sport,” said the International Cycling Union Olympic Solidarity coaching instructor since 1995.
An engineer with CN for 18 years before going full-time into coaching, Dickie has encountered some speed bumps on his journey.
In 1996, he was acquitted in an Ontario court on three charges of sexual assault and one of sexual exploitation against female riders.
Dickie successfully sued Cycling Canada, which had terminated his contract without pay.