TENIEL Campbell pedalled into national sporting history books yesterday by becoming the first female cyclist to ever qualify for an Olympic Games.
Campbell is also the first TT cyclist to qualify for road cycling since the 1972 Munich Games breaking a 48-year-old drought on the road.
According to the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Individual and Nation Rankings, Campbell currently meets the required criteria to secure a spot for TT in the women’s road race, at the dawning 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
The 22-year-old endurance rider and TT are presently ranked at 33rd on the 2019 World Individual and Nation Rankings, respectively. However, the UCI’s Olympic qualification for women’s road cycling is two-fold. The top 22 nations earn guaranteed slots. But any country that is not in the top 22, but has a cyclist in the individual top 100, will get one spot at the Games. Campbell qualified via the second pathway as the deadline for qualification closed off yesterday.
At this point, Campbell has allocated a mammoth 551.33 points over the past year of top-flight international racing in both the western and eastern hemispheres.
The 2018 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games gold medallist achieved a hefty amount of these points by participating in a 15-month specialist training programme, at the UCI World Cycling Centre(WCC), in Aigle, Switzerland, where she received the opportunity to compete on the biggest stage and alongside the world’s highest ranked female athletes.
Campbell’s three largest UCI-point hauls for this year came from a silver medal finish at the Pan American Games’ Road Race (100pts), another runner-up performance at the three-stage Women’s Tour of Thailand (85pts) and a bronze medal showing at the Pan American Championships Road Race (85pts).
It has however been a busy past two weeks for the lanky road racer. On October 13, the PSL cyclist completed her lengthy training stint in Switzerland representing the WCC. Five days later, it was announced that she would be joining UCI Women’s Pro Cycling Team, Valcar Cyclane (Italy) for the 2020 competitive season – another milestone for local women’s cyclists.
Now, with qualification to Tokyo confirmed, Campbell becomes the only national female cyclist to have ever qualified TT at a Summer Games. With the men scheduled to continue their Olympic qualification campaign before year’s end by attending several UCI World Cups, she is expected to have two-wheeler company at the Olympic Village.
With the likes of two-time Olympian Njisane Phillip, world Flying 200m men’s record holder Nicholas Paul and other top performers such as Kwesi Browne, Keron Bramble and Quincy Alexander, TT has a great chance to punch its ticket in the Men’s Team and Individual Sprint events.