Posted by Editoress on 06/21/06
|Canada's Missed Chance|
By Evi Arsenault
Thirteen years ago, Canada let one of its brightest coaching stars slip away. Martin Barras is not a name that inspires much recognition in Canada, yet in England and Australia he is well known for his abilities as cycling coach par excellence. In 1993 - the last time Barras was at the Bell Tour de Beauce Ã‹â€ he was the coach of the Albertan Provincial Cycling team and had just been refused for a coaching position with the Canadian Cycling Association.
Seven years later, Barras was heading up the British Track Cycling Team for the 2000 Sydney Olympics; it was a banner games - a gold medal, a silver medal as well as two bronzes and two fourth places. After his position with Britain, Barras was offered the position of Head Coach of the Australian Track Cycling Team; following in the footsteps of legend Charlie Walsh. In August 2004 Australia's performance at the Athens Olympic Games was record-breaking; five gold medals, three silver, and two bronzes. Barras's contract was renewed and he became an Australian citizen.
"I don't mean to brag, but I honestly have the best job in the world," said Barras in an interview with La Presse during the Bell Tour de Beauce. Ã…â€™I can't find better than what I'm doing down under. I have absolutely no interest in leaving; and I don't see how it would be possible to do what I do there, here in Canada, either.
Having lost Barras as a coach means Canada lost Barras's expertise, leadership, and humility, but more importantly, Canada missed its chance to develop track cycling to its fullest. In a sport such as cycling where being in the right break or timing the right move counts, we can't miss any more opportunities if we aspire to become a cycling nation.
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