Guyana’s cycling fraternity was earlier today plunged into a state of shock and mourning as the news of the death of cycling stalwart Wilbert Benjamin circulated.
Benjamin passed away early on Tuesday morning at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
Reports indicate that Benjamin had met with an accident back 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 motorcar, the former national cyclist who lost consciousness, had been taken to the Anamayah Hospital, Corentyne Berbice, where he underwent routine tests, including CT scans. The hospital found no irregularities and the cyclist was discharged sometime later.
However, Benjamin started to experience headaches and had returned to the hospital where a test revealed a cracked skull and brain damage. It was concluded that Benjamin would have to be taken to Georgetown to undergo surgery.
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 realized that 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 where he succumbed hours prior to his arrival.
Aside from champion cyclist and businessman Wilbert Benjamin can be hailed as a philanthropist, who often contributed cash or kind to young riders, and the Flying Ace Cycling Club (FACC) of which he was a member.
Coming from a family of cyclist (father, uncle, older brother) Benjamin raced to three National school titles in the 80s and went on to represent Guyana at the Inter Guiana, Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA), Pan American and Texaco Games, in his transition from junior to senior champion rider.
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, gears 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 equipment and gears. The late cyclist was also the owner of a gym in Fyrish, Benjamin Fitness.
Since the time of his migration, the cyclist would return frequently to host road races and give back to cyclists and clubs across the country.