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Traumatic Beginnings: VI’s Darrel Christopher Jr. shares his remarkable story

October 20th, 2018 | Tags:
Darel Christopher Jr. continues to make the Virgin Islands proud on the international cycling arena. Photo: Team of Reporters
Virgin Islander Darel Christopher Jr, was crowned the Velodrome 2018 sprint champion. He also shared first place accolades with Frank Travieso, of Cuba, taking the 2018 Madison title. Photo: Team of Reporters
Virgin Islander Darel Christopher Jr, was crowned the Velodrome 2018 sprint champion. He also shared first place accolades with Frank Travieso, of Cuba, taking the 2018 Madison title. Photo: Team of Reporters
Darel Christopher Jr. at the Union Cyclist International (UCI) World Road Racing Championships in Austria. Photo: Team of Reporters
Darel Christopher Jr. at the Union Cyclist International (UCI) World Road Racing Championships in Austria. Photo: Team of Reporters
Father, Darel Christopher Sr., President of the BVI Cycling Federation. Photo: Team of Reporters
Father, Darel Christopher Sr., President of the BVI Cycling Federation. Photo: Team of Reporters
INNSBRUCK, Austria, EU: Virgin Islander Darel Christopher Jr, has had a remarkable year representing the Territory on the international racing circuit.

In June 2018, he placed first in the 2018 ‘Velodrome’ (Georgia State) Championships, then in September, he represented at the 2018 Union Cyclist International (UCI) World Road Racing Championships in Austria, among other events.

Darel Jr’s historic participation in both events marked firsts for the Territory with Christopher Jr. already being the first local cyclist to compete in the sport on the international level. However, this was no easy accomplishment, Darel’s journey was one of success through many struggles. 

Traumatic Beginning

In an interview in Innsbruck Austria at the World Championship Games, Darrell Jr. sat down to talk about some of his early beginnings as an aspiring cyclist, “my dad (Darel Christopher Sr.) was preparing for the Caribbean championship time trial. I was up the hill timing him. After a while, he wasn’t coming. Then some driver came by and said a cyclist was hit by a truck. I was like, huh? So, I went down the road and saw him on the ground. He couldn’t move. I was in shock…in tears… how was this possible?” he questioned.

“This cherry picker truck came across and just slammed him – bam. His whole left side was crushed. His left leg was broken into three places. His spinal cord was stretched, the Doctors said he won’t be able to walk again,” Darel chronicled.

Darel Jr. spoke about still being in high school and having to attend for only half a day so that he can take care of his father, “I would take care of him in the morning and go to school in the afternoon or take the morning shift at school so I could see him in the afternoon, back and forth. A little child had more muscles and nerves than him… The only thing he could do was move his neck. He had to start over,” Christopher Jr. said.  

A love for riding

“When I was a little kid, I would see my dad riding and riding. He was a firefighter. I was an active kid. He told me when I was 2 years old, he gave me a bike – no training wheels. And I did it. I rode, with no training wheels. Nothing. 2 years old. Ever since I was a little kid, I was watching these guys in the Tour de France, Miguel Indurain etc,” Darel told reporters. “My dad told me this story about how when I was 5 years old, I told him I am going to be there one day, in the world championships,” he said.

He said since 2018 his goal was to qualify for the world championships in Innsbruck, “Two weeks before the race, I made it. It was last minute, but it doesn’t matter. I knew for sure I was doing the race”.

Darel Jr. spoke about the time trial racing being a specialized discipline that you have to train for and do specific workouts, “My goal was actually to make the road race so I was training for that… I would go out twice a day. I’d do 107 – 110 miles in the morning then race on the Velodrome that night. And I’ll do that back to back days” he said.

Christopher Jr. recalled some insecurities after realizing he qualified for the time trials only but had no time-trial bike, “oh-oh, this is not good” he said. A bike shop owned after realizing the plight decided to loan him a bike, “hey come on, I’ll give you a ride to use. I’ve known you for two years and you’re cool, we can’t get you riding a regular bike with some clip-on bars, let’s get you set up right”, the bike owner said in the words of Darel Jr. Christopher Jr. went on to receive a time trial bike for a week and a half before championships.

Unexpected hurdles 

During the championship race, Darel said the helmet he used was an old teammate’s helmet, “I tried it on and everything was fine. But in the race, once the sweat started dripping, it got in my face and I couldn’t see nothing. I had to use one hand to keep the helmet up so I could just see straight. There were two or three times I almost went off the road because of this,” he said.

“To add to that, how the cables were set up, going into the frame, the vibrations were pushing the cables which meant the brakes were rubbing against the tire. I was pushing up the cable with my other hand and I kept losing more and more time. Eventually, I thought, just forget it, leave the cable and just continue riding. It was touching the wheel and there was nothing I could do” Christopher Jr. chronicled as a possible reason for his poor performance at the games.

“I just kept going because being on the start line and hearing them calling my name and the crowd cheering was an unbelievable experience. It felt great. So despite what was happening to me on the course, I started smiling. Everyone was so encouraging. It was amazing. I took it all in. I kept hearing “Go BVI.” Here I was, the first rider to ever represent the British Virgin Islands in the world championships,” he said with glee. 

Keep Fighting

Within a year of his father’s traumatic accident, he was walking, Darel Jr said. “He keeps saying he is going to walk again without crutches and that he’ll be back on the bike. He never stops trying. He keeps going. He has a stationary bike at home and gets on that and just keeps going.”

“I think back to him and his struggles…. He never gives up so why should I give up? I am 100% healthy and he’s starting from the bottom. No matter the obstacles in life, I’m going to keep pushing forever. If it doesn’t work, at least I know I tried and gave it 100%.”

Christopher Jr has in his career; in addition to scoring numerous victories at the VI National Championships and Season Openers, defended the Territory successfully in Antigua and Barbuda and Great Britain, among other countries.

The 27-year-old Virgin Islander has also competed in the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico with international training at circuits in the the US and Europe.

10 Responses to “Traumatic Beginnings: VI’s Darrel Christopher Jr. shares his remarkable story”

  • ccc (20/10/2018, 15:25) Like (16) Dislike (1) Reply
    A very good read
  • Inspirational (20/10/2018, 16:27) Like (18) Dislike (0) Reply
    Story of dreams, commitments, struggles, convictions, overcomings, pushing forward, small and big successes. Our youths truly need more of this. The Real. Thanks.
    • @ inspirational (21/10/2018, 07:46) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
      100% agreed. I always tell my children the hardest things achieved is the best reward in life. I love the young man's story.
  • We shall overcome (20/10/2018, 16:51) Like (26) Dislike (0) Reply
    Even with all the setbacks, father and son still rise. Humbling...Great piece.
  • Me (20/10/2018, 20:37) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
    This is sooo heart touching
    Nice to read such positive action by alocal youth.No govt. Polictics driving his future u just go Darrel
    • family (21/10/2018, 19:39) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      There’s no politics in this, this is strictly fathers doing from inception, the two little cents the gov give can’t compare to his family, I guess you have to be in track and field and hurdles, but he will make it with the help of God and a few good sponsors
  • biker (21/10/2018, 09:29) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
    Darrel Jr.'s story is such an inspirational story for everyone in the BVI during these difficult times here.

    Hopefully during his next visit home he will have the opportunity share his remarkable story in person with the youths attending some of the schools in the BVI.
  • No help?? (21/10/2018, 21:38) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Nice story of courage and determination. I note that he had to borrow a bike to ride to represent the BVI?
  • guy hill (23/10/2018, 11:09) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Always continue to do your very best. Be brave.
  • Nice (28/10/2018, 23:58) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Nice job let's see if you going to post this comment after three attempts of submitting them

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