Trinidad and Tobago’s cyclists, representing in the Men’s Team Sprint, captured silver on Wednesday’s opening night of the 2017 Elite Pan American Track Cycling Championships, currently taking place at the National Cycling Centre, Couva. The tournament officially began with a formal opening ceremony for the event with all cyclists from the participating nations, along with their respective federation presidents in attendance.
TT acquired their first medal at the championships as the Men's Team, consisting the trio of Njisane Phillip, Kwasi Browne and Nicholas Paul, sprinted the track circuit in a time of 45.08 seconds to claim the silver medal. Colombia’s team of Fabian Puerta, Santiago Ramirez and Ruben Murillo denied the hosts gold, finishing with the fastest time of 44.54 seconds. Argentina rallied to bronze in the category finishing the finals of the event with their time of 45.55 seconds.
TT’s women cyclists saw a more challenging opening day as they did not make it to the podium. Both Jessica Costa and Teniel Campbell finished the Women’s Scratch event in the top 20, however, they ended in the 17th and 20th positions, respectively.
Jennifer Valente of the United States sealed the gold medal of the event as Cuban Marlies Mejia claimed silver and Allisson Beveridge secured the bronze for Canada.
Valente stunned the spectators after she crashed in the 40 laps race with eight laps to go as she fell hard, and almost half of the peleton coming down on top of her. However, they all were able to shake off the fall without any major injuries and executed an exciting sprint finish during the remaining laps.
The United States had a strong showing on the night as their cyclists, Madalyn Godby and Manndy MarQuadt, also won gold in the Women’s Team Sprint with a time of 34.24 seconds. Canadian riders Sthanie Roorda and Amelia Walsh pedaled to silver while Venezuela’s Mariaesthela Vilera and Yolimar Perez managed the bronze medal in the event.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF), Robert Farrier, stated, "These five nights of competition showcases the talent of the athletes in our region, but underlying all the medals and the glory is the vast opportunity for Trinidad and Tobago of turning sport into a viable business."
He continued, "For this championship, we have visiting our shores over 250 athletes, 100 officials and the 19 presidents of various Cycling Federations of this region. This is our opportunity to show the region that we are capable of utilizing this venue as a centre for training athletes."
The TTCF president elaborated on the investment needed to move forward with the Federation's plans by stating, "The‘Satellite Centre Model’ utilised at the UCI School and now by the TTFA through FIFA, is that which should be used by all sporting organisations as we seek to make Trinidad and Tobago a sport tourism destination. This will also begin to see full and proper utilisation of the world class sporting facilities which will certainly set them all on the path of being self-sustaining."
Farrier also detailed, "What we are stating is that there exists an already successful model, which we (TTCF) has, and all we are asking is that the stakeholders sit with us to discuss and learn how it should be implemented. For this business venture to be successful there has to be a partnership with the TTCF, UCI, the Government and Corporate TT."
The Elite Pan Am Track Cycling Championships continues today with the morning session from 10 am free to the public, while the evening session at 6 pm will cost fans $50 to enter.