Pointing our youth in the right direction                                                                                            
August 29, 2017
August 30, 2017

Hot in pursuit of a professional dream

Enrique De Comarmond riding for T&T. Photos: Mariela Bruzual

By Jamila Gamero

Name: Enrique De Comarmond

School: St Augustine Community College

Sport: Cycling

Club: Heatwave Cycling Club

Enrique De Comarmond is a 16-year-old national cyclist who shares the dual nationality of his Venezuelan mother Mariela and Trinbagonian father Raymond. Born in Trinidad and Tobago in 2001, he is a quintessential Caribbean young man – talented, passionate and purpose driven.

I met Enrique mere hours after his routine morning session of a 100 km ride, and although he had an early start, he was eager to share his journey and passion for sport. As we broke the ice, my first question centred on his initial involvement in cycling. It was the only thing required to get him into his zone, his eyes aglow, and with controlled excitement, he described in detail his three-year journey towards becoming a recognised national youth cyclist.

His introduction to the sport started in 2014 after a visit to a local bike shop which led to his enrolment in a BMX bike camp with the Arima Wheelers. After a year, he quickly outgrew the club and moved to Knights, popularly known for their Queen’s Park Savannah night rides. It was during this time that he knew that cycling was more than just a sport, and that his greatest ambition was to become a world-class, professional cyclist in the future.

Enrique does a training ride.

Recognising his God-given talent, his father Raymond, also his manager, knew that he needed a more serious and competitive programme to develop in the sport. He searched, and found a new home with Heatwave Cycling Club, which has produced pro-athletes such as Alexi Costa, Jesica Costa, Jamol Eastmond and Edwin Sutherland. What this environment provides for the ‘young talent’ is the support and drive from his more experienced teammates. “He sees their work ethic, and what it takes to excel at a top level,” commented the elder De Comarmond.

Since his move to Heatwave, Enrique’s first opportunity to represent his country came in 2016 at the Caribbean Championships in St Lucia, an outstanding achievement for a young man who is a national champion in road, track, time trial and mountain bike events. Although he is still considered a juvenile (15–16), he often competes above his age group with the best talent in Central and South America in the juniors’ category (17–18) and elite classes (20+).

Enrique readily admits to his obsession with the bike, and long-endurance rides. It brings me to the ultimate question for any youth athlete. How do you balance your love for sport and academics?

Without much fanfare, he readily admits that he does not. He feels overwhelmed by school, almost as though it takes away from time that he feels could be better spent on his professional aspirations. I admire his candid revelation as we often romanticise student-athletes, and professionals with strong academic prowess who have transitioned into coaching, broadcasting, even politics after their professional careers have ended.

I felt this was an important juncture during the conversation; his parents openly shared their desire for their son to obtain a scholarship, train in the United States and earn a degree. Enrique however, has his heart set on a professional career in Europe.

I shared my own experiences as a student athlete in the US, and how that led to a network and professional offer in Spain, yet I wondered long after the interview, how do we as responsible parents adequately support our children’s ambitions? How do we manage expectations when our intention is to secure their best interest, especially when their burning desires differ from the road more frequently travelled? …keep running steadily in the race we have started. Heb 12:1

Jamila Gamero is a triathlete and former professional footballer for Sevilla FC women’s Club in Spain. She is the mother of two boys, Tishad and Akim, and the founder of the Mariama Foundation, a registered non-profit organisation raising the storytelling bar for the Caribbean’s female athletes.