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June 21/06 12:31 pm - Canada's Missed Chance

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 ˆ 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. Å’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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