Trinidad and Tobago cyclist Teniel Campbell may not have finished the women’s cycling road race at the 2020 Tokyo Games, but she made history by becoming the first woman to represent this country at the marquee games. She is already looking to the future saying the “grind don’t stop.”
Campbell was among 19 athletes who did not complete the event, on Sunday morning TT time.
Campbell began the 137-kilometre race in scorching conditions with temperatures reaching 33°C. She was the lone Caribbean athlete of the 67 cyclists.
Three hours and six minutes into the race officials flagged down Campbell to alert her that barriers had already been placed across the track shortly ahead, so she would not get a chance to complete the race.
In road cycling, athletes are pulled from the race by officials if they are too far behind the leading cyclists.
Winning gold was Austria’s Anna Kiesenhoffer in three hours, 52 minutes and 45 seconds (3:52:45).
After the event, Campbell remained optimistic about her future. On Facebook, she wrote, “Future is female, grind don’t stop and onwards and upwards.” She wanted to accomplish more, saying, “Disappointed is an understatement as I always want to make my country proud especially when everyone is tuned in.”
Campbell said she was coping with the conditions until she began struggling with muscle cramps.
Campbell was grateful for the encouragement even from an international supporter. She said, “Beyond happy with the support from Team TTO and an ESPANA converted into a Trini for the duration of the games (@alejandro_gtn)! Trinis being Trinis chipping into my tent at the start with music then blasting my favourite song (@voicetheartiste – peace of mind). I couldn’t be happier and more relaxed nor stop laughing at the amount of people passing by and looking at our tent or simply enjoying the music and vibe as well. #Missed That!”
Campbell thanked her team which includes mechanic Elisha Greene and coach/manager Desmond Roberts and ended by saying she is excited to see her family again.
President of the TT Cycling Federation Rowena Williams told Newsday, “I am extremely proud of her, extremely excited what has officially been history-making for TT and in cycling as a whole.”
Williams wants this to be a new beginning for women’s cycling in TT.
“We now have to ensure that it does not end here, but we continue to use that as a stepping stone for growing the sport of cycling where women are concerned.
“It really is a proud moment for us as a fraternity, as a country and I am really proud to be part of that historic moment…I really want to encourage her.”
On social media, Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe, said, “A hearty congratulation to you Ms Teniel Campbell you have triumphed in the face of adversity and made yourself, family, friends and country proud. On behalf of the Government and the people of T&T, I thank you and we continue to stand with you on your journey.”