Though the 19-year-old Georgetown, Ont. athlete was recently put through the ringer at the RBC Training Ground program, meeting the challenges of a range of sporting disciplines in dazzling fashion, Je’Land Sydney has no intention of heading for the 2024 Summer Olympics with the aid of anything but his bike, TheIFP.ca reported.
Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Sydney, who graduated in 2014 from Georgetown District High School, finished the Training Ground with the highest under-19 score on the stationary bike, as well as placing second best overall.
For Sydney, who rides with Kallisto Cycling Club in London, Ont., the challenge was “right in my ballpark.”
His performance in other disciplines at the RBC Training Ground earned the young athlete the attention of several national organizations representing sports such as rugby, bobsleigh, rowing, and of course, cycling. It was an opportunity for Syndey to demonstrate his prowess in a range of sports, having exceeded elite and Olympian benchmarks for strength, power, standing long jump and vertical jump, TheIFP.ca said.
But while that opportunity was a golden one, Syndey remains focused on what he’s trying to achieve in the saddle — ambitions he hopes will take him to Paris in 2024.
“[The bobsleigh] looks like a lot of fun,” Syndey told TheIFP.ca’s reporters, “but to go into that now and compete with the guys already in the program, you’d have to start all over and I’m not ready to do that. The experience was a lot of fun and it took my mind off training for a while.”
Taking his mind off training, however, isn’t something he can afford to do for long, he suggested. “This is the time when you put all the work in before you can shine in the big races,” Sydney said — and track competition at the 2024 Summer Olympics may be the biggest race of them all.
Facing a world-class field in the years leading up to Paris 2024, recent experiences, especially at last year’s World Junior championships in Italy, likely played a part in sharpening Syndey’s commitment to his chosen discipline. Competing in the individual sprint, the 2017 Canadian junior champion — facing the world for the first time — missed qualifying by one spot, finishing 17th. With that experience under his helmet, though, Sydney has resolved to do whatever it takes to meet the challenges of the world’s top riders, challenges he knows are going to come fast and thick having graduated to the global stage.
“What happened at the world juniors was mostly just not having enough experience at that level,” Sydney told TheIFP.ca. “My coach said I need to have better fitness to ride against the bigger guys like I was up against over there. It was a good learning experience and now that I’ve raced with the elites I know how much faster I have to go.”
In the meantime, Sydney, part of Cycling Canada’s development program, is putting in some quality time on the boards at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre, building that fitness bit by bit.