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Oliveira strikes gold in Nassau

Sitting pretty: Oliveira, left, Rowse, centre, and Hopkins delivered superb performances in their cycling time-trial races at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau, Bahamas. Oliveira won the gold medal in the boys time-trial, with Hopkins placing sixth, Rowse earned bronze in the girls race.

Matthew Oliveira announced himself on the world stage by winning Bermuda’s first Commonwealth Youth Games gold medal in the island’s history.

Oliveira delivered a remarkable display to win the boys time-trial yesterday after stopping the clock at 12min 06sec, 12 seconds faster than silver medal-winner Dylan Hughes, of Scotland, in Nassau, Bahamas.

The 17-year-old had told The Royal Gazette prior to the Games that Nassau would merely be an experience-gaining exercise against some of the world’s top junior riders.

Oliveira, however, produced a performance that far exceeded his expectations in a race where Kaden Hopkins, his Winners Edge team-mate, also impressed with a strong ride to come sixth in 12:25. Hopkins, also 17, was just a few seconds off third-placed Sebastian Berwick, of Australia, who finished in 12:21.

Alyssa Rowse had earlier become the island’s first medal-winner at the Games, claiming the bronze in the girls time-trial in 13.47, 35 seconds behind winner Madeleine Fasnacht, of Australia.

All three riders represented Bermuda at the NatWest Island Games in Gotland, Sweden, last month where Oliveira came third in the men’s town criterium.

Mia Black, Bermuda’s chef de mission in Nassau, heaped praise on the island’s exciting cycling triumvirate. “Matthew Alyssa and Kaden are all amazing athletes,” said Black, who is also the Bermuda National Athletics Association vice-president.

“They have been focused since they arrived and have prepared themselves well with the assistance of Peter Dunne [the Bermuda Bicycle Association president]. “We’re very proud of them. We came in as underdogs being from small Bermuda but they have proven the saying, ‘Though she be but little, she is fierce!”

Dunne described yesterday’s performances as a “great day for Bermuda cycling and for Bermuda!”

He added that the a 5.8-mile circuit was perfectly suited to the power-riding styles of Oliveira and Rowse.

Bermuda’s cyclists will now turn their attentions to 40½-mile road race on Sunday on the same course as the time-trial.

Swimmer Jesse Washington was the island’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the Games yesterday.

A squad of 20 Bermudian athletes are competing in four events at the Games, which run until July 23.

Washington was part of a successful campaign for Bermuda at the Central American and Caribbean Championships in Trinidad & Tobago this month, winning silver medals in the 50 and 100 metres freestyle, as well as the 50 butterfly.

Judy Simons, the Bermuda Olympic Association president, said: “We believe that Jesse is a stellar example of athletic excellence and is more than worthy of this honour. We are proud to have Jesse and the whole team represent Bermuda in Nassau.”

Nassau is playing host to the sixth Games. Athletes, aged 18 and under, from 70 Commonwealth nations and UK overseas territories are competing in nine sports.