Nicholas Paul is on the hunt for his third Elite Pan American Track Cycling Championships gold medal when he lines up in the men’ sprint semi-finals at the Villa Deportivan Nacional Velodrom in Lima, Peru on Saturday.
The TT cyclist had another scintillating performance in the opening round of the sprints on Friday and set a new track record of 9.444 seconds to top the field of advancing riders. Paul is the current world record holder (9.1s) in this event.
Countrymen Kwesi Browne and Quincy Alexander also moved on to the 1/16 round with the former (10.251s) tenth fastest and the latter (10.397s) 14th fastest.
However, Paul was the only survivor at this stage as cruised past American Evan Boone in straight rides. Browne lost to Canadian Ryan Dodyk, and Alexander was ousted by another Canadian, Nick Wammes.
Into the quarter-final, Paul stamped his dominance once more by easily disposing of Brazilian Joao Vitor in consecutive rides.
Up to press time on Friday, it was not confirmed who he would be facing in the semi-final and who were the other two cyclists to also secure semi-final spots.
Thus far at the championships, Paul has already captured two gold medals. On Wednesday, he joined forces with Browne and Zion Pulido to win the team sprint event.
On Thursday, he had another commanding display and topped the field in the keirin.
In the six-lap keirin final, Paul stayed in second position for the first three laps, trailing the motorised pacer and fellow World Cycling Centre training partner Surinamese Jair Tjon En Fa.
When the pacer exited the track with three laps to go, Colombian Sanitago Ramirez and Canadian James Hedgcock made a break from the back.
Recognising their tactic, Paul pumped his legs to maintain top spot while Browne also pedalled into third position.
With two laps to go, Ramirez and his countryman Kevin Quintero initiated another surge forward to pass Browne, but Paul was unstoppable. The TT cyclist could not be caught and once again, pedalled to gold in fine style.
The late press from the foreign riders bumped Browne down to fifth overall while Quintero and Ramirez snatched silver and bronze respectively.
Over the past two months, the Gasparillo-bred cyclist has won double gold at the UCI Nations Cup in Colombia, a complete set (gold, silver and bronze) of Commonwealth Games medals and two more gold at the Pan Am tourney.