Nicholas Paul’s dominance throughout the opening three rounds of Olympic men’s sprint cycling came as no surprise to Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF) president Rowena Williams.
Paul progressed to the 1/8 final after qualifying fourth fastest (9.316s) of the 24 advancing sprinters.
He then defeated Australian Matthew Richardson with a blistering performance in heat four of the 1/32 finals, followed by a close win over Malaysian Mohd Azizulhansi Awang in the 1/16 round.
Paul returns to the Izu Velodrome in Tokyo on Thursday to square off against Yuta Wakimoto in heat four of the 1/8 final from 2.57am. He vies for a spot in the quarter-final round, which rides off about an hour later.
“Nicholas has not performed below expectation. The expectation of his performance, for me generally, is what I expected and he has not disappointed. He’s on his A game.
“The show is on. Everyone’s at their best in cycling right now. The top cyclists are in the remaining rounds, and it’s not going to be an easy road for Nicholas into this 1/8 final,” said Williams.
Kwesi Browne, another TT sprinter who contested the men’s sprint, was eliminated after his first ride, as he finished the flying lap in a personal best time of 9.966 seconds – the slowest of the 30 initial riders.
Williams praised International Cycling Union (UCI) World Cycling Centre coach Craig McLean for taking the pair under his wing for the past nine months, and over a year pre-covid19. She believes their performances on the track are the results of the Scotsman’s hard work and commitment to both Paul and Browne.
“The training out in Switzerland is speaking volumes at this time in the performances. We definitely have to give kudos to the coach for their performances.
"Although Kwesi did not advance, achieving a personal best is evidence of his improvement under McLean. We really want to thank the coaches for the support of UCI, who would have accommodated the cyclists and get them ready for this journey,” she added.
TT is yet to capture its first medal at the Tokyo Games. but the TTCF head remains quietly confident that Paul can turn the tables. She said the two have endured many months of intense training and an Olympic medal would serve as a fitting reward.
Browne also begins his Keirin competition on Saturday.
“I have no doubt that Nicholas will put down a good performance and get into the semis and into the finals. I wish him all the best and we hope for the medal. It’s the same feeling with Kwesi.
“All this hard work is really for the medal. Covid19 did not help our athletes at all and was a spoke in the wheel for all athletes. We wish them better performances at the 2024 games,” she said.