MAYOR OF Port of Spain Joel Martinez last week Friday presented Nicholas Paul with a plaque to honour Paul’s astounding feat of breaking a world record. But that should not be the full extent of reward. Paul, 20, pedalled his way into the record books when he clocked 9.1 seconds to break the world flying 200m sprint record on his way to gold at the Pan American Elite Cycling Championships in Bolivia earlier this month. A trio of Paul, Njisane Phillip, and Keron Bramble won gold in the team sprint and Bramble took bronze in the men’s keirin.
Paul’s achievement was made sweeter coming as it did after this country achieved its highest ever medal haul at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. Our sporting heroes brought home ten medals – two gold, six silver, and two bronze. But Paul’s determination to break the world record makes his achievement even more outstanding. Mere days before his feat, he had only just missed the record, clocking a time of 9.378 seconds.
“Breaking the world record was one of my objectives at the Pan Am Championships,” Paul said after his historic race. “I really planned on going for it and to have actually done it is unexplainable. It really is an unbelievable feeling.”
This country is no stranger to world records. In 1966, our relay team, which included Wendell Mottley, broke the world record in the 4 x 440-yard sprint at the Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica. And if more proof is needed of how this country punches far above its weight when it comes to sporting achievements, look no further than the career of Rondel Hunte who set a pair of world records at the 6th International Powerlifting Federation World Men’s Classic Championships in Calgary, Canada, a year ago.
In 2017, Kervin Ribeiro lowered his unofficial drag racing world record, stopping the clock at 7.86 seconds in a 1JZ-powered 2nd Generation RX7 while competing in the 174 miles per hour category at the Frankie Boodram International Raceway in Wallerfield.
What all these individuals demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt is once we put our mind to something there is little we cannot achieve. This is the lesson that Paul has taught the nation. His is an example that should be emulated, not just by other athletes but also citizens going about their business.
As the suspension of national sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye shows, athletes come under tremendous pressure and scrutiny. But on balance, they are consistently a bright spot in our nation’s affairs. They motivate and inspire in ways which statesmen tasked with that responsibility sometimes do not.
Let’s ensure we honour Paul by increasing awareness of his achievements and by demonstrating, in meaningful ways, that his efforts matter.