Guyana’s cycling fraternity was earlier Tuesday plunged into a state of shock and mourning as news of the passing of cycling stalwart Wilbert Benjamin circulated.
Benjamin passed away early on Tuesday morning at the Georgetown Public Hospital.
Coming from a family of cyclists (father, uncle, older brother) Benjamin raced to three national school titles in the 80s, and went on to represent Guyana at the Inter-Guianas, Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA), Pan-American and Texaco Games in his transition from junior to senior champion rider.
Aside from being champion cyclist and businessman, Benjamin can be hailed as a philanthropist who often contributed cash or kind to young riders, and to the Flying Ace Cycling Club (FACC) of which he was a member.
He eventually migrated in 1992, where he spent some years in Monserrat before taking up residence in Canada in 1997. There, he opened the Benjamin Sports Sales & Services, a store which catered to bicycles and other cycling equipment and services.
He later opened the Benjamin Sports Store in Fyrish, Berbice, which catered to not only cycling, but other sporting disciplines.
He also had been the owner of the Benjamin Fitness Gym in Fyrish, Corentyne.
Reports indicate that Benjamin had had an accident in August while making his morning rounds on his bicycle as part of his daily training routine on the Hampshire Public Road. After being struck down by the motor car, the former national cyclist had lost consciousness and had been taken to the Anamayah Hospital on the Corentyne, where he underwent routine tests, including CT scans. The hospital had found no irregularities and the cyclist was discharged sometime later.
However, he started to experience headaches, and returned to the hospital, where a test revealed he had sustained a fractured skull and brain damage. It was concluded that Benjamin would have to be taken to Georgetown to undergo surgery. While one private hospital had no doctor on hand to perform the surgery, Benjamin was taken to the GPHC.
It was then that a mix-up occurred. According to Benjamin’s family members, the staff on the ambulance in which he was being transported realised there wasn’t enough oxygen to last the patient until he got to Georgetown, and the decision was made to go back to the Hospital in Corentyne. However, upon their return the Berbice River Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic, causing a lengthier delay.
Benjamin was eventually taken to GPHC, but succumbed hours prior to his arrival there.
Since his migration, this cyclist used to return frequently to host road races and give back to cyclists and clubs across the country.