THE FINAL Olympic qualifier for track cycling – 2020 International Cycling Union (UCI) Track Cycling World Championships – pedals off in Berlin, Germany, on Thursday.
TT’s lone participant and ‘Worlds’ debutant, Nicholas Paul, climaxes his Tokyo 2020 qualification campaign when he lines up against a tough, global cast of riders, all chasing similar competitive goals.
Over the past three weeks, the 21-year-old has been fine-tuning his trade at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC), Switzerland, under the guidance of Olympic Team Sprint silver medallist and Scottish coach Craig Maclean. Paul is already in Germany and lines up in the Men’s Sprint event on Saturday.
Speaking to the Flying 200m world record holder from his German base on Tuesday, Paul remains confident ahead of his final qualifier campaign. He also heaped praises on the Maclean and the WCC for further developing his athletic progression over the past couple weeks.
“The World Championships is one of the big events in cycling and at this point in my training, I’m feeling strong and fast, so I just want to go out there and give a good performance. The last couple of weeks building up to ‘Worlds’ was great so I’m really happy and confident right now. I would like to thanks God, family, friends, coaches and supporters for all the trust they have placed in me thus far,” he stated.
After the World Championships, Paul’s Olympic Ranking will ascertain if he achieves a spot at the Summer Games. Due to Paul’s efforts over the past four UCI World Cup events (China, New Zealand, Australia and New Zealand), TT is currently ranked seventh (5,326 points) on the Olympic Nation Rankings. He is however, expected to maintain his position among the top ten nations and progress to the Tokyo Games.
Over the past months, there have been many distractions and hiccups within the cycling fraternity, but Paul remains focussed on his ultimate goal.
With the likes of an unexpected Team Sprint pullout by teammates Njisane Phillip and Keron Bramble from the squad’s Olympic pursuit partnered with the sudden exit of former coach, Erin Hartwell, Paul remains goal-bound on securing his Olympic debut.