Top 6 Cycling Moments of 2015Gary Acosta
Wednesday, December 30 2015
Soon the clock will strike 12 for the first time in 2016, bringing to dawn a new exciting year of cycling in Trinidad & Tobago. The previous 365 days have been a whirlwind tour of ups and downs with jaw dropping matchups and scintillating performances by our cyclists competing both locally and abroad.
Here at the TTCF website, we have taken the time out to highlight what we believe were our top six moments of the year 2015.
#6: Cutting away Team Pursuit National Records
Since 1981, the National Team Pursuit record held by a quartet of cycling legends in their own right, Robert Farrell, Roger Farrell, Gene Samuel and Gregory Hart, stood at 4:50. Attempts to break this record at high altitude a few months later were unsuccessful until eventually the intrigue of the gruelling event lost its appeal and the focus on the Team Pursuit slowly faded away. In 2015, there was a concerted effort to re-invigorate this Olympic event here in T&T and one of the catalysts to this was the breaking of the Team Pursuit record twice in four months.
Firstly, during the 2015 National Championships in May, a mixed combination of Varun Maharajh, Akil Campbell, Jovian Gomez and Barry Luces chopped 8 seconds off of the time set in 1981 in an untrained and unplanned team effort. More focus on the Team Pursuit leading up to the Pan American Championships in September saw the inclusion of Gavyn Nero as a substitution for Luces. The quartet shattered the record by 20 seconds to set the new bar at 4:28.202. It is without a doubt that the goal will be to continue to etch away at this record and begin to become more competitive in the Pan Am region by the end of 2016.
#5: Mountain Bike History
Ever since the discipline of Mountain Biking was adopted by the TTCF in 2012, considerable growth especially in the competitive regime has been noticed. The proof of this growth was evident in September this year when a four (4) member team represented T&T at the inaugural Caribbean MTB Championships in Puerto Rico.
T&T’s top MTB cyclist, Peter Sellier did not disappoint when he returned home with T&T’s first ever international medal in MTB and it was the colour of Gold after he was crowned Juvenile Caribbean MTB Champion.
#4: Caribbean Track Championships Massive Haul
The inaugural Caribbean Track Championships took place in Havana, Cuba and coincided with the Copa Cuba de Pista, UCI Class II event. T&T fielded a strong contingent inclusive of Njisane Phillip, Quincy Alexander and Varun Maharajh and would walk away with 13 Caribbean Championship medals, 5 of those Gold, 5 were Silver and 3 Bronze.
The most challenging and memorable of those wins came in the Elite Men Sprint and Keirin when Njisane Phillip and Quincy Alexander respectively captured Gold medals in two fine displays of speed, tactics and finesse. The 2016 edition of the Championships are due to be hosted by Trinidad & Tobago at the end of May, bringing the excitement of top level Track cycling to T&T shores once again.
#3: Double-Double Gold!
It is an amazing feat to enter a tournament and emerge victorious in all events entered. This achievement requires serious sacrifices and dedication but to have this feat occurring twice at the same event is almost unimaginable.
Dreams came to reality at the Junior Caribbean Road Championships this year in the Dominican Republic when T&T returned home with not one but two Double Caribbean Championships in the likes of Tyler Cole and Teniel Campbell. Cole and Campbell captured both the Road Time Trial and Road Race competitions in the Juvenile and Junior Women categories respectively.
In the process, Cole defended his Juvenile Road Race Title while Campbell did the same in the Junior Women format. With Ramon Belmontes securing Bronze in the Junior Men Road Time Trial and Jabari Whiteman snatching Bronze in his National Team debut in the Juvenile Men Road Race, the future of our Junior endurance athletes looks pleasantly hopeful as we move into 2016.
#2: Pan Am/Pan Am Silver Double
The quadrennial and prestigious Pan American Games were hosted in Toronto, Canada this year. T&T’s ace sprinter, Njisane Phillip heralded his return to form with an emphatic Silver in the Men’s Sprint at the Milton Velodrome. In the final, Phillip faced hometown favourite, Hugo Barrette but was unable to beat the Canadian Champion.
Two months later, the duo met each other once again, this time at the Pan American Track Cycling Championships in Chile during the semi-final stage of the Men’s Sprint. Barrette went one-up in their matchup as yet another defeat to the Canadian was looming. However, Phillip would turn things around to win the next two heats, advancing to the final versus Colombia’s Fabian Puerta.
Phillip’s double silver medals not only qualified T&T for the UCI World Cup Series but also placed Phillip into a good position to qualify T&T for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
#1: Double Pan Am Champ, Double Pan Am Records
One of T&T’s most famous dishes is the sumptuous delicacy of doubles. It comes as no surprise then that our last top three moments of 2015 all featured some sort of double flavour. In April this year, Kollyn St. George accomplished a feat never obtained by a female cyclist in T&T’s history when she was crowned Junior Pan American Champion in the 500m Time Trial and Team Sprint (with teammate Keiana Lester).
As if the success of Pan American gold was not enough, St. George’s achievements shattered both the Pan American 500m Time Trial and Team Sprint Records, placing her as one of the fastest female sprinters in not only T&T’s but in the Western Hemisphere’s history. To add to her accolades, two days later she destroyed the National Flying 200m Record for not only Junior Women but also Elite Women while in the process of becoming the first female T&T cyclist to dip below 12 seconds.