The local cycling fraternity lost one of their icons yesterday with the death of Leslie King.

King, 59, a winner of gold and silver Pan American Games medals in the match sprint and kilometre time trial in 1971 and a Commonwealth Games silver medallist in 1970, died at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex at Mount Hope at 4.30 yesterday morning.

According to Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation vice-president Gregory Dandrade, King, who suffered a stroke nearly two weeks ago while accompanying national cyclists on a tour of Venezuela, succumbed to heart problems related to the stroke.

King was due to be transferred to the West Shore medical centre for surgery yesterday after the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) agreed to foot the $170,000 bill for the operation.

Dandrade also told the Express SPORTT have agreed to bear the cost of funeral expenses for King, who was at the time of his death, also the Federation's Racing Secretary.

And yesterday, members of the fraternity mourned the loss of a man who served the sport in various capacities, including as a coach and chief commissaire.

Following are the comments of Cycling Federation president Robert Faria, ex-champion cyclists Gene Samuel and Ian Atherly (former mayor of San Fernando), and former national rider and immediate Federation past president Michael Phillips.

Robert Faria:

"His contribution in Arima was something to the young children. He got children from difficult areas in Arima to come to the cycle track. That in itself was of great value to the community.

"He carried on the sport in the Arima velodrome three, four days a week. It will be a legacy that will remain in the velodrome."

Gene Samuel:

"It's shocking, sad.

"When I first heard he had a stroke, my first thought was for the kids worked with in the East, the less fortunate kids. It's just so sad. Most of the cycling fraternity is pretty down.

"It's a big, big void. What he has been doing with the Knight Riders cycling club, I just hope that somebody who has been working with him could carry on his dream and I would continue to assist them.

"It's hard to pin-point which was his biggest contribution. (But) of all the good he has done, it has to be working with the less privileged children."

Michael Phillips:

"A lot of the cyclists who have been around for some time are starting to pass away. Fitzroy Hoyte, Nathan Hajal, Cyril Pollonais, so for Leslie (to go), it's a big shocker. Leslie's navel string was buried in cycling and he was always a livewire.

"Nobody could ever question Leslie's passion for the sport. There were a lot of people in Arima who he was doing work with who would miss his everyday presence. Leslie would definitely be missed at the events we put on.

"Before he took ill in Venezuela, (national cyclist) Elisha Greene was commenting that at the tracks they went to, that he was most graciously acknowledged by the spectators for his accomplishments...I wish I could have done as well as him as a cyclist."

Ian Atherly:

"He was hands-on with regards to the development of cycling in Trinidad and Tobago. It is indeed a shock. I was really surprised.

"This means that we have lost one of the icons that continued to be actively involved in the development of the sport. I would like to send personal condolences to his familiy on his passing.

"He was such a young man. It really is a sad time for us...There isn't an area (of the sport) that Leslie did not delve into. Someone with all that knowledge is priceless.

"As a competitor, he was the finest that can be. He was dedicated and he took the sport seriously."

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