Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Wynter-Parks touts Olympic appearance for Jamaica’s Sharpe

Published:Monday | April 10, 2023 | 1:00 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
Iona Wynter-Parks
Iona Wynter-Parks

The sport of cycling has had its glory days on the Olympic scene from as far back as 1952, when Kenneth Farnum graced the prestigious global event.

David Weller still holds the distinction of being Jamaica’s only cycling medallist at the Olympics when he copped bronze at the 1980 Games in Moscow.

Ricardo Lynch has also graced the Olympic stage, but no female has had the privilege of doing so and former triathlete and national cyclist Iona Wynter-Parks believes Llori Sharpe could become the first in the near future.

Wynter-Parks, who won gold medals at the Central America and Caribbean Games back in 2002 and 2006, says Sharpe is on the right trajectory with regard to her cycling progress and it is just a matter of time before the former triathlete represents the country on the Olympic platform.

“Sharpe is legitimate and she will be in the Olympics. Once she continues to get the support, she will be the next Olympian for Jamaica in cycling,” Wynter-Parks said.

The support that Wynter-Parks speaks of has been coming in the form of sponsorship as Sharpe, just last January, signed a one-year extension of her contract with a professional cycling team out of Europe, CANYON//SRAM Generation, who are set to participate in 21 races across the continent through to mid-September.

Wynter-Parks, who competed at the 2000 Olympic Games as a triathlete, says Sharpe’s success on the global stage will be crucial to the development of the sport locally, as more and more females will be encouraged to pursue their careers at the higher level.

“Women’s cycling, professionally, on the world level is getting support, and so Llori’s success will be like a pivot point and a pathway if she makes it; other girls are going to see that capability,” added Wynter-Parks.

Wynter-Parks, who resides in the United States, was in Jamaica as part of the 706 P team, along with her husband Clay, at the recently concluded Jamaica International Cycling Classic. She believes the local authorities must continue to support the athletes and take the guesswork out of the sport, so that the talents can focus on competing at the highest level.

“If the athletes are not put in a position where they have to figure out everything and they are well taken care of, there is nobody that can stop us talent-wise,” the Olympian said.