Olympic drive, hunger for success

Gary Acosta
Monday, August 31 2015

The interlocked quintet of the Olympic rings hangs impressively over the cycling velodrome. The steeply banked corners, the crowd at an arm’s length away and the pulsation of a roaring support fills the atmosphere within the Rio Olympic Velodrome.

Your first step out of the athlete’s tunnel, under the fierce lighting and sounds of rubber speeding across wood intimidates every one of your nerves. The rumbling of the supports as another cyclist sprints over the Siberian pine is etched into your mind. Then you get to feel your own wheels turn over on top of those boards, the centripetal and centrifugal forces pulling your body in every direction possible as your stream through around the turns.

No other T&T cyclist has that memory more recently vivid than Njisane Phillip. Seen in the photo below, Phillip (centre) poses with his support crew at the London 2012 Games, Dr. Magaret Ottley (Sports Psychologist), Peter Maharaj (Manager), Andrew Lakatosh (Mechanic) and Ian Sharpe (Massage Therapist).

But this is a feeling that all cyclists dream to experience and it can become a reality within the next 6 months. Five (5) events stand in between T&T’s cyclists and their Olympic dreams. The first step to start unwrapping this wish starts in just under 48 hours at the Parque Penalolen Velodrome in Santiago, Chile.

The Elite Pan American Track cycling championships is the final Continental event in which T&T cyclists can gain necessary UCI points towards their Olympic Ranking. T&T’s best mathematical hopes lie in the Men Sprint and Men Omnium events with Njisane Phillip and Varun Maharajh heading the respective charge in these events. With a maximum of 120 points available from the Pan Am Champs, both Phillip and Maharajh will be keenly looking to close the gap on their main rivals from Suriname, Canada, USA, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico.

The Men Keirin is not as mathematically simple as the Sprint and Omnium but however, still provides T&T with a pretty good chance of qualification. With Kwesi Browne and Njisane Phillip separated by one (1) point, the Elite Pan Ams could be the turning point in either of their Olympic campaigns. T&T also has a chance for qualification in the Men Team Sprint with the likes of Jude Codrington, Justin Roberts and Quincy Alexander being the most probable hopefuls driving for this qualification.

With UCI World Cups being held in Colombia (November), New Zealand (December) and Hong Kong (January), coupled with the UCI World Championships in London (March), these will be the final UCI Olympic qualification events. Qualification however for the World Cups will see the Elite Pan Ams as essentially the last drive for this.

The Men Team Sprint pedals off on Wednesday 2nd while the Keirin is hosted on the 3rd, the Omnium on the 4th - 5th and the Sprints on the 5th - 6th. We wish all our Olympic hopefuls the best of luck in their drive for qualification to feed that open apetite for success.

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