‘A national hero to sports’ – Cyclists honour Jude Bentley

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By Isanella Patoir

Jude Bentley was not just a cycle hero, but a hero to the entire sporting fraternity.

This was reflected in the number of cyclists, friends and family who came out for a Sunday morning ride – something that Jude would always be remembered for.

The solidarity ride started from Bentley’s Bike Shop on Robb Street, Bourda and ended at the accident scene where he died on the spot.

The 41-year-old national cyclist was tragically killed on the Rupert Craig Highway while training when he was struck down by former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defense Force, Rear Admiral (rt’d) Gary Best early Saturday.

Jude Bentley

Best was way above the legal alcohol limit at the time of the accident, a Police report noted.

Bentley’s efforts to elevate youths in sports will not go unnoticed; he counselled, disciplined and if they had no financial support, he helped them with sporting equipment or in whatever he could.

Cyclist Enzo Matthews told the News Room that it was Bentley who introduced him to cycling and who gave him a job in his shop.

Cyclist, Enzo Matthews [News Room photo]
Bentley started a movement- 592 Bike Life- aimed at empowering and bringing youths together.

“He would bring together the youths if it’s Sunday or Saturday, he is a national hero to sports, not just cycling.

“If you’re a runner and come and say ‘Jude I am not running fast enough’, he going to give you advice how to run fast, he didn’t had to know you,” Matthews said.

Bentley represented Guyana at international cycling events and even rode for Trinidad.

Matthews explained that Bentley would share his international experience with the locals.

Cyclists during the solidarity ride [News Room photo]
“We in Guyana – our exposure is not that much – so when you have these guys going out of the country and then come back and sharing with you, giving you better insights and letting you learn…with sports there is a future, that’s the kind of person he was,” Matthew said.

Another cyclist, Kwame Ridley said he was shocked when he heard the news; he said Bentley was his mentor.

Kwame Ridley [News Room photo]
“My last story about Jude…I did a Suriname/Guyana ride and most people had doubt in me saying that we cannot ride a bicycle from Suriname to Guyana and Jude was one of the people who said ‘you can do it’ and he encouraged me and inspired med,” a tearful Ridley recalled.

A friend, Mark Conway said, “He was one of the kindest and nicest person you could ever meet, we never raced together but we were friends off the bike.”

One of the youths that Bentley assisted was Darius Ramsammy.

Darius Ramsammy

“When I was a young BMX cyclist, Jude called me into the shop and give me my first pair of cycling tyres in order to compete and be better.

“At the time the tyres were $100,000 and for a kid who came from nothing I could not afford it and Jude was such a fun and loving guy, his memory will live on forever,” an emotional Ramsammy said.

A big loss

Bentley, who was also a businessman, started his business in 2002 with wife Fonah Mcwatt.

Bentley’s wife Fonah Mcwatt breaks down at the scene of the accident [News Room photo]
At the time all they had was a bread stand in Bourda market and even then, he would help the less fortunate.

“I don’t know if I can encompass what Jude was; Jude was an experience. You had to experience Jude Bentley to know who he was,” his wife said.

It is a very emotional time for many, but especially for Mcwatt and Bentley’s two sons – ages 13 and 15.

Mcwatt explained that the support has been overwhelming since his death and she is satisfied to learn how many lives he touched.

Fonah Mcwatt [News Room photo]
“This is a really big loss and Jude has impacted so many people. I didn’t even realize how many people, communities have been touch and people have been reaching out to me from all over the world.”

She said the solidity ride on Sunday is exactly what Bentley always wanted – to bring people together.

“Jude has two sons, they’re the spitting image of him, they adored their father, he was the best father.

Jude’s legacy lives on every one of these children you see on a bike, the bike fraternity, Jude is not someone you could possibly forget,” Mcwatt said.

She said she was at home when she heard the news. One of the youths Bentley was going to train called and told her what happened.

Cyclists, friends and family hold hands in honour of Jude Bentley at the scene of the accident [News Room photo]
“I don’t think that’s a call anyone would want to receive and those are words I would never forget, I will never forget that day. I even dropped my phone and told them that was impossible.”

The last time she spoke to Bentley, they made a bet about a bike race. She is encouraging persons not to take their loved ones for granted.

“You really don’t know how these impact you until it happens to you and the last time you see someone might just be the last time you see that person so don’t waste time with nonsense, love people while they are here.”

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