Trinidad and Tobago cyclist Nicholas Paul had a positive start to his Olympic campaign as he advanced to the men’s sprint 1/8 final at the Izu Velodrome in Tokyo, Japan on Sunday.
Paul showed good form in his three opening performances on the track and now hunts a spot in the quarter-final round. He faces the starter once more in the 1/8 final against Japanese speedster Yuta Wakimoto at 2.57am on Thursday.
In the opening round of men’s flying 200m qualification, Paul, the world record holder (9.1s), advanced as the fourth fastest qualifier as he sped to a 9.316s clocking in the opening round.
Compatriot and fellow Olympic debutant Kwesi Browne, who was the first rider of the 30 initial cyclists, clocked 9.966s in his flying lap (200m). However, his time was slowest of the bunch, and he, along with the five other riders, was eliminated from the opening round.
Paul’s progression saw him clash with Australian Matthew Richardson in heat four of the 1/32 finals. There, Paul executed smoothly and comfortably shifted gears to conquer Richardson and secure a spot in the 1/16 final.
Up against Malaysian Mohd Azizulhansi Awang in the next round, Paul kept his cool once more and disposed of the Oceania rider in another sleek performance along the track.
Fellow International Cycling Uniuon World Cycling Centre training partner TJair Tjon En Fa also showed grit against Dutchman Harrie Lavreysen but was unable to get past the freshly crowned Olympic flying lap record holder.
In the opening round, the flying lap record was broken on two occasions as Great Britain’s Jack Carlin (9.306s) wiped away his countryman and five-time Olympic medallist Jason Kenny’s record of 9.551s which was set at the 2016 Games in Brazil.
Carlin’s record was short-lived as Dutch cyclists Jeffrey Hoogland and Harrie Lavreysen dipped below his time to both clock 9.215s respectively and advance as the top two fastest riders.
The 1/8 finals pedal off at Izu Velodrome from 2.48am on Thursday.