WE CONGRATULATE all who played a part in our tremendous showing at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. While the entire TT team should be commended, our cyclists in particular invigorated hopes of future glory at next year’s Olympic Games at Tokyo.
Nicholas Paul won two medals, becoming TT’s first Pan Am sprint champion in 48 years, while also winning gold alongside Njisane Phillip, Kwesi Browne and Keron Bramble in the team sprint. Paul broke Phillip’s Pan Am sprint record (9.977 seconds) in the individual race, gunning it in 9.808 seconds. Teniel Campbell won silver in the women’s individual time trial.
Cycling is experiencing something of a renaissance, thanks in part to the efforts of Paul and company.
Many still remember Phillip’s turn at the 2012 Olympics in London, in which he single-handedly raised TT’s profile in this discipline and came tantalisingly close to standing on the podium in the sprint at the London Velopark. Will TT be able to make an even bigger impact next year? Paul hopes so.
This week, Paul pointed to the tremendous impact national cycling technical director Erin Hartwell has had on him and his teammates. Hartwell was a US bronze medalist at the 1992 Olympics, silver medallist at the 1996 Olympics and is a former world-record holder.
“It’s always a pleasure working with Erin, because he’s very professional,” Paul said. “He’s always showing us the way to the top, and we just have to keep following that path and hopefully we’ll make it to the Olympics and win a gold for TT.”
Meanwhile, Michelle-Lee Ahye earned silver in the women’s 100 metre dash, boxer Michael Alexander won bronze in the men’s 64kg-light welter. As at yesterday, the overall medal haul was six, giving TT a rank of 16 out of 25 nations – the second-best performance in the English-speaking Caribbean, behind Jamaica.
But the tally could well be higher. There are a few more days left to the games.
We hope the 103-strong team has used the opportunity of the games to gain much needed experience and exposure. Even individuals who do not win medals stand to win by competing at the highest international level. The team members should be appropriately rewarded for their efforts.
But they should also be properly supported going forward to ensure they are able to put their best foot forward in 2020. This will require collaboration between the State and the private sector.
At a time when many distressing events keep grabbing our attention, the achievement of the team provides a ray of light. It’s all a reminder of how sport can help inspire our youth, instil positive habits, and also generate hope far beyond the tracks.