President of the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF), Robert Farrier says former national coach, Erin Hartwell is still interested in returning to help develop T&T cycling.
Hartwell is the current sprint coach of Canada Cycling, whose cyclists won five of the six sprint events at the current 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. T&T's Njisane Phillips copped silver in the match sprint behind top Canadian sprinter Hugo Barrette.
The services of Hartwell were terminated by the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Sportt) six months into a two-year contract with the TTCF back in 2010, when then Minister of Sport Anil Roberts intervened and said the TTCF had hired an unqualified coach for the job of high performance director. But Hartwell countered he was indeed qualified, carrying a Level two US cycling certification and a US Cycling licence.
Hartwell sued the TTCF and Sportt for wrongful dismissal. The case is still ongoing at the Industrial Court. Farrier said the TTCF is currently attempting to work out a resolution with Hartwell. Hartwell, a former Olympic and World Championship medallist for the United States, is now a Level one US Cycling qualified coach, the highest qualification offered by US cycling.
Farrier, whose executive hired Hartwell in 2009 and who was in Toronto for a few days, said Hartwell's proven track record and experience could help to bolster T&T's cycling.
“We were advised by the then CEO of Sportt that they would no longer fund his (Hartwell's) salary and we were forced to terminate his services because we were totally funded by Sportt ... For me it was a bitter-sweet Pan Am, watching somebody who we had here as a coach winning five out of six gold medals. The sweet thing is we did eventually get a silver medal from Njisane Phillip but the bitter part was we possibly could have been the team winning five gold medals at Pan Am cycling,” Farrier said.
Farrier added that Hartwell indicated he still has interest in T&T cycling and he has ties to T&T as his wife is Trinbagonian.
“He still has great love for T&T so it is hopeful that somewhere in the future that we can continue the negotiations with him. At present we do need a sprint coach and under the new structure with the Cycling Centre, the TTCF plans to do programmes in specific areas of the sport. We will need a sprint coach, an endurance coach, a mountain bike coach and a junior coach; that's the way it is set up and developed in the more developed countries and that's the model we will try to follow,” Farrier said.
“But first we have to try and sort this last issue out with Hartwell and then we can move on,” he concluded.