FOR the first time in national cycling history, Trinidad and Tobago will be represented in endurance events at the Track Cycling World Championships in France later this month.
Securing the nation’s debut qualification was Perfection Services Limited (PSL) cyclist, Akil Campbell; older brother of TT’s first-ever women’s pro road cyclist Teniel Campbell.
He will compete in the men’s omnium, scratch and elimination races. The 25-year-old booked his berth at Worlds after winning gold in the elimination race at the International Cycling Union (UCI) Nations Cup in Cali, Colombia in mid-September.
In July, he also captured the top spot in the scratch race at the Pan American Track Cycling Championships; TT’s first-ever endurance medal at this meet.
Campbell will be joined by Olympian Nicholas Paul at the October 20-24 meet in Roubaix, France. Paul also bagged triple-gold – sprint, keirin and kilometre time trial – at the Nations Cup to earn qualification.
“It’s kind of tough to think about it (Worlds) but it’s a good feeling right now. I’m just planning to go there and do my best,” he said. Campbell will be joined by seasoned national mechanic Elisha Greene, who has been busy for the past few months attending the Pan Am Championships, Olympic Games, Junior Track Cycling World Championships and now Worlds.
The pair should depart for France at the end of next week. Paul, however, has already returned to his training base at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland to prepare for the tourney under coach Craig McLean.
Campbell currently trains with sprinters Njisane Phillip, Keron Bramble and Kwesi Browne among others at the National Cycling Centre in Couva and at the gym.
“I’m basically trying to keep my composure and fitness. It’s more of just trying to taper off for the event and do what I’ve been doing for the past year. I’ve been training as usual.
“I’m on the road by myself sometimes, training, and then I meet up with some friends to do a couple rides, other than that, just myself. I’m just doing my final preparations before I leave,” he added.
Campbell has also set his sights on the 2022 Commonwealth Games, UCI Champions League and 2023 Pan American Games. He plans to participate in some of these events to attain UCI points and increase his chances of a possible berth at the Paris 2024 Games.
Campbell recently applied to the Ministry of Sport and Community Development to access funds through the elite athlete assistance programme to aid his future endeavours.
As it stands, the cyclist’s bike frame has a small crack owing to a fall during the elimination race in Cali. With just two weeks to go before Worlds, he does expect the ministry to allocate funds to purchase a new bike for him in such a short span of time.
Campbell however, is intent on using the same Felt bike frame to compete at World Championships.
According to him, it may be more feasible for him to use the current frame in France since buying, building and acclimatising to a new frame just ahead of the competition may be a bit challenging.
“I also tried to get a grant (from the government) but with the budget on Monday, I’m unsure when funds would be released.
“It may not work out (new bike) before Worlds but I have to go and do what I have to. It (frame) should be alright for now I just have to try and not fall on it again,” he said.
Campbell added that a Felt bike frame for his competitive discipline ranged between US$3,000 to $5,000.