Leslie King

Full Name: Leslie King
Born: March 06, 1950
Died on: October 28, 2009 (aged 59 years)
Birthplace: San Fernando, Trinidad
Sport: , , , , , , , , ,
Categories: One-kilometre Time Trial and Match Sprint

Career Highlights

  • Rated as one of the top five sprint cyclists in history of the sport in Trinidad and Tobago (Roger Gibbon, Chris Sellier, Maxwell Cheeseman, Njisane Phillip, others)
  • Into national and international cycling limelight as brilliant teenaged cyclist who succeeded compatriot Gibbon on pedestal of world-class with a Trinidad and Tobago stamp
  • Attracted wide cross-section of T&T population to Sports Meetings in which he was being featured, like at Northern Games and Southern Games
  • Represented Trinidad & Tobago at two Olympic Games:

–          1968 Olympics, Mexico City, Mexico – Match Sprint

–          1972 Olympics, Munich, West Germany – 1000 meters Time Trial (19th, 1:09.96); Match Sprint

  • Represented Trinidad and Tobago in four World Cycling Championships:

–          1967 World Championships, Amsterdam, Holland – Match Sprint

–          1969 World Championships, Brno, Czechoslovakia – 1000 meters Time Trial (11th, 1:09.97); Match Sprint

–          1970 World Championships, Leicester, England – 1000 meters Time Trial (18th, 1:12.14); Match Sprint

–          1971 World Championships, Varese, Italy – 1000 meters Time Trial (12th, 1:09.947); Match Sprint.

  • Gold and Silver medals winner at 1970 Central American and Caribbean Games, Panama City, Panama – Match sprint, gold and 1km Time Trial (1:10.34), silver
  • Silver and Bronze medal winner at the 1970 British Commonwealth Games, Edinburgh, Scotland – 1km Time Trial (1:10.40), silver and Match Sprint, bronze
  • Gold and Silver medal winner at the 1971 Pan American Games, Cali, Colombia – Match sprint gold and 1km Time Trial silver (2nd, 1:08.61)

–          Match sprint victory achieves Games history hat-trick for Trinidad and Tobago – R. Gibbon, match sprint winner at 1963 Games in Sao Paulo and 1967 Games in Winnipeg, Canada

–          Best on time in kilometer time trial until last rider in event (J. Lovell, Canada) surpassed (1:07.61) to claim gold – King, the silver

  • Represented Trinidad & Tobago at the 1966 British Commonwealth Games, Kingston, Jamaica – 1000 meters Time Trial (9th, 1:15.2); Match Sprint
  • 1987- Inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame, Trinidad and Tobago.
  • 2012 – Cycling Federation pays posthumous tribute by titling Stage 3 of the Independence Cycle Classics ‘Unity Race’ – The Leslie King Stage.
  • 2012 – Honoured as one of Trinidad & Tobago’s “50 Greatest Legends of Sport” in celebration of the nation’s 50th Anniversary of Independence (August 31, 2013)

 

 

Biography

Leslie King once beat his more celebrated cycling compatriot Roger Gibbon in a sports meet at the Queen’s Park Oval in 1966. King, 16 years old at the time of his startling win, recalled later, “I managed to win a race at a tender age against the champion cyclist Roger Gibbon, and that was a highpoint in my career.”

Gibbon thought differently about the result. He remembered, “However the day came when he (King) defeated me at a race…and thereafter I had to change my strategy in racing in order to beat him.”

King did not only change Gibbon’s perspective but he was causing T&T national sports-loving community to think him the new rising star. After all, King, with his boyishly innocent looks, had also stunned international onlookers when he beat the French master Daniel Morelon in the same 1500-metre race.

So King’s immense talent was already evident and there was a thought that genetics played a factor as King’s father was the renowned Trinidadian sprinter Everald King and his mother was a netballer with whom he would go to netball matches.

Growing in popularity among cycling fans in Trinidad and Tobago, King would have the public openly expressing their dissatisfaction at his non-selection for the 1967 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, Canada after he (King) had placed second to the selected Gibbon in the match sprint and kilometer time trial at trials to choose the TT team. Cycling’s selection committee did not budge and the public showed its resolve to back King by organizing for and paying his way for training in Belgium later that year. And King was to benefit a great deal from the gesture as he also accepted an invitation while in Belgium, to come over to Netherlands in 1968 for more training and competition.

Leslie was born March 3, 1950 in south Trinidad, in Gooding Village, San Fernando but moved to Port of Spain at the age of fourteen. He grew up playing many different sports including cricket, football, basketball, lawn tennis, running track and swimming. It seemed though that he had an affinity for cycling from the start as he once stated, “I always had a cycle in my possession, whether it was a bicycle or a tricycle. So riding was like second nature to me.”

Indeed he would often undertake frequent jaunts from Port of Spain to San Fernando and back, quite a considerable distance, on a bicycle. However, this constituted part of his early training in preparation for the arduous courses he would ride later on as a professional.

King made it to the 1966 British Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica, where despite his lack of medals, he impressed local and international observers with his performance. He was named on the national team for the 1967 World Championships in Holland. He did not advance far in the Match Sprint event he participated in, however he built up experience in international competition.

By the time the 1968 Olympics came around, King was ready. He advanced all the way to the third round repechage in the Match Sprint, but placed third in his heat and did not move on to the following round. However, he had still had a good showing for a first-timer at the Games.

At the next World Championships in 1969, King placed eleventh overall in the 1000m time trial. He captured a gold medal at the match sprint and a silver medal in the kilo time trial at the 1970 CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games in Panama. He also attained a bronze medal in the match sprint and a silver medal in the kilo time trial at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland. In 1971, he won a gold medal in the match sprint and a silver medal in the kilo time trial at the Pan American Games in Colombia.

King also represented Trinidad & Tobago at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany where a hostage-taking, terrorist-related incident at the Games Village scarred his emotions, bringing recall as he told a journalist later on of the Black Power uprising in Trinidad two years earlier. Leslie did not come off too well in Munich against some fabulous other world-class cyclists when competition got going. He would call quits on competitive cycling not long after Munich.

Following his retirement, King did a bit of coaching but never came into the spotlight again at any level of cycling.

He became a successful insurance agent and later would at times serve as a chief commissaire in the sport.

Leslie died on October 28th, 2009 at age 59. At the time of his death, he held the position of Racing Secretary at the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF) and had, a couple weeks prior, been manager of a squad of T&T junior cyclists competing in Venezuela. King had fallen ill in Venezuela About his passing, Michael Phillips, a former standout national cyclist commented in part, “Before he took ill in Venezuela, (national cyclist) Elijah Greene was commenting that at the tracks they went to he was most graciously acknowledged by the spectators for his accomplishments…I wish I could have done as well as him as a cyclist.”

Subsequent to his passing, he was honoured by the National Cycling Federation with Stage Three of the Independence Cycle Classics ‘The Unity Race’ being named after him – The Leslie King Stage. In August 2012, he was named as one of Trinidad & Tobago’s “50 Greatest Legends of Sport” in commemoration of the nation’s 50th Anniversary of Independence.

 

 

Education

  • Coffee Street E.C. School, Trinidad
  • Mucurapo Boys R.C. , Trinidad
  • Belmont Intermediate School, Trinidad

References

Sport Clubs / Teams

Barbican Wheelers