AFTER WINNING a historic men’s keirin Commonwealth Games gold medal for Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday, ace cyclist Nicholas Paul has already shifted focus to the opening rounds of men’s sprint competition, which ride off at the Lee Valley VeloPark in Stratford, London, England on Sunday from 5.02 am (TT time).
Paul was elated with his golden keirin ride and hopes to maintain the same momentum heading into the flying 200m, the event he currently holds the world record in (9.1 seconds).
On winning Commonwealth Games cycling gold, TT’s first in 56 years, Paul said, “Firstly I must say thanks to God because without Him none of this would be possible.
“I would say it was a next big achievement for me. Commonwealth Games was one of my targets for this year as well and to start it off with a gold medal is really great.”
He added, “Going into the sprint, I hope I just continue with the same flow and continue riding and racing smart. I want to say thanks to TT, my family and friends for all the love and support.”
Prior to Paul’s sensational victory on Saturday, Roger Gibbon was the only TT cyclist to have ever won Commonwealth Games cycling gold.
The last time TT earned a medal at this Games was in 1974 courtesy Ian Atherly’s men’s sprint bronze.
Seeing Paul atop the podium receiving his gold medal with the national anthem playing in the background was pleasantly reminiscent, Gibbon said.
“The feeling is one of greatness. It did bring back memories to me because we have never gotten a Commonwealth gold medal since my performance over 50 years ago. You know what the niceness was, to hear the anthem play and see your flag raise.
The 78-year-old said he sent Paul a congratulatory message as soon as he won the final. Gibbon holds the 23-year-old Paul in high regard and closely follows his riding career.
“Nicholas Paul is just leagues ahead of the competition. In all of those competitions that he’s been riding in, including the UCI Nations Cup, the Commonwealth countries were not finishing in front of him.
“And he demonstrated his superiority by that ride today. He just blew them away. I thought his riding was brilliant. It was a no-contest because he was so much better than them,” he added.
TT Cycling Federation president Rowena Williams was all smiles with Paul’s accomplishment, some three months after the cyclist suffered a fractured collar bone. She expected nothing less.
“I think for us, it shows the positivity that is happening in sport in TT. Over the last two years, we would not have been able to perform in the way we would like in every sport.
“This gold medal really helps put TT back on the map and understanding that we do have the potential and we’re able to compete at the highest levels.
In the six-lap medal race, Paul flawlessly executed a tactical sprint break with just over two laps to go and was unstoppable. He rode to victory while compatriot Kwesi Browne finished sixth.
Taking silver was Scotland’s Jack Carlin while Malaysia’s Shah Sahron bagged bronze.
Meanwhile at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, TT swimmer Dylan Carter missed out on a men’s 50-metre butterfly medal by one-tenth of a second. He placed fourth in 23.28 seconds.
Winning gold in a Games record time of 22.81 was crowd-favourite, England's Benjamin Proud. Grabbing silver was Singapore's Ten Wei Teong in 23.21 while New Zealander Cameron Gray edged Carter out of medal contention with a nippy 23.27 clocking.
Carter was favoured to be among the medals since he splashed to silver in this event at the 2018 edition. However, it was not to be.
He returns to the pool on Sunday to contest the men’s 50m backstroke heat four from 5:57am. Carter swims out of lane seven. Countryman Jeron Thompson contests heat six in lane one.
Additionally, TT’s Cherelle Thompson did not advance to the final of the women’s 50m freestyle after she placed sixth in semi-final two, clocking 25.70. She was however, second fastest (25.64) in her opening heat.
The TT men’s 3x3 basketball team suffered two heavy defeats in their preliminary round pool B campaigns on Saturday. TT lost both matches 21-6.
Scoring for TT against Australia was Kemrick Julien (three), Adrian Joseph (two) and Steven Lewis (one). Against England, Joseph scored three, Lewis two and Julien one.
Cyclist Akil Campbell faces the starter in the men’s 15-kilometre scratch race qualifying round heat one from 6.50 am.
Chayse McQuan faces Papua New Guinea’s Madako Suari in the men singles plate round of 32 from 8.30 am while Charlotte Knaggs contests the women’s plate round of 16 against Vincentian Jada Ross from 3.15 pm.
Netball continues with TT versus Uganda from 1 pm. The 3x3 team face New Zealand from 2.30 pm on Sunday.
Boxer Nigel Paul begins his Commonwealth stint against Mauritian Jean Otendy in the over 92kg super heavyweight category from 3.45 pm.
Artistic gymnast Annalise Newman-Achee is also expected to continue her campaign in the all-around division. TT’s women’s beach volleyball team of Suraya Chase and Phylecia Armstrong also open their preliminary round pool B against Cyprus from 4 pm.