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Justin Williams on riding for Belize: ‘I just figured why not come home and bring everything that I’ve learned, everything that I’ve built, here’

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Posted: Saturday, June 26, 2021. 3:11 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Justin Williams is a Belizean American cyclist who’s reached the highest level of cycle racing in the United States and the world. As a holder of dual nationality, he recently changed nationality affiliation with the International Cycling Union (UCI) and USA Cycling from United States to Belize.

That means that he can now officially participate in National Championship races in Belize, which he just did winning the National Road Championship, and can represent Belize internationally.

As the owner of his own team L39ION, Williams has access to sponsors and has been working on developing athletes both American and from other countries.

In an exclusive with Breaking Belize News, Williams told us why the change in nationality affiliation now.

“I think that I wanted to do it for a long time and I’ve been back and forth. At first, I didn’t know how to do it. And so, I developed my own team and I have all the resources that I need and I just figured it would be really good for the country and for people to know that cycling is a massive sport here,” said Williams who is known simply as Justin in Belizean cycling circles.

“I raced a lot when I was younger in Belize and I just wanted to make the country proud and I wanted to show everybody around the world how proud this country is of cycling,” said Justin who got the cycling traits from his father Calman Williams who grew up riding the Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic and when he migrated to the United States kept coming back yearly to race on that day.

“So, I think it’s just the right time, it’s good timing for me, where I am in my career. It is a good time, perfect timing. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I think I’m in a position to do it now and take care of myself and, again, take care of the people around me, so I figured, why not?”

So, was it his father’s influence that made him officially become a Belizean cyclist in front of the world?

“Yes and no,” Justin said. “I mean, I think that even from when I was younger and I used to come racing, I raced the national championships here when I was in junior. The biggest thing is that my team has such a big platform, I wanted to wear the jersey and I want the world to see that Belize has a massive cycling culture and the country loves the sport. So, I think that my dad had an influence on that but I also have a lot of history here and it means a lot to me.”

But the George Floyd murder in the United States was the last straw said Justin.

“I got to be American National Champion and that was fun, but also at the end of it became a little bit controversial and everything that happened last year with George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, I just didn’t, I didn’t feel like I wanted to wear that jersey anymore, represent that jersey anymore. So again, I just figured why not come home and bring everything that I’ve learned, everything that I’ve built, here.”

Justin said he wants to uplift Belize cycling so it does well internationally.

 “I talked to Kaya [Cattouse] and we’re going to do everything we can to build a proper national team and get these guys racing on a level where we can see these riders on TV and try to do well at the Pan American Games. Try to do well at the Caribbean Games you know. I don’t know when’s the last time we sent someone to the World Championship, but that’s on the list. And, ultimately get to Paris in 2024. They seem like they’re on board, and I think we have the right people in the right positions now, to really make this happen. So, I’m excited for the possibilities,” he said.

Justin said he’s spoken with to Orson Butler, the president of the Cycling Federation of Belize (CLB), vice president Dion Leslie, Edison Usher, Chairman of the Weekend Warriors Cycling Club, and the National Sports Council, including National Sports Coordinator Kaya Cattouse, about his plans to help improve cycling here.

“I’ve had multiple conversations with Orson, I’ve talked to Edison, and I talked to the vice president [Leslie]. Kaya is a massive influence because she’s now in the [National] Sports Council and so, I’ve just got to keep having conversations.  I’ll talk to whoever I need to talk to, but it’s a work in progress. We’re at phase one. We’re at the first step and then from there we’ll see how it goes,” Justin said.

“The biggest thing is that we have a plan now. And we just gotta execute on that plan moving forward.”

Justin said he is hoping to represent Belize at the Caribbean Games.

“There’s a UCI race in Maryland, coming up at the end of the year. That’s going to be my next goal ‘cause I want to show the jersey off,” he said.

“There’s a race next year in Canada that’s a UCI race that we go to every year, BC Superweek. There’s a couple of other opportunities to show off the jersey. Hopefully I get to go to the Caribbean Games and then from there we’ll see how it goes.”

Having his team L39ION allows Justin to have the resources with which he might fulfil his desire to help Belizean cycling, so we asked him if changing his international affiliation might affect his standing with his sponsors.

“I get to have my cake and eat it too. I get to race in America and develop American racing because I grew up there, but I also get to inspire people from my country and take some of these guys to America and help them develop too. So, I mean, I’m just doing my best to continue to do good stuff, but the support is going to be there because I think everybody sees that we’re doing the right thing.”

Now, let’s see if he delivers.

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