TRINIDAD AND Tobago’s Olympic-bound cyclists Nicholas Paul, Kwesi Browne and Teniel Campbell will be joined by their respective foreign-based coaches for the Tokyo Games.
Paul and Browne currently based at the International Cycling Union World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Switzerland and is being guided by Scottish coach Craig McLean.
Campbell, TT’s first-ever female Olympic cycling contender will travel to Japan with her Spanish coach Alejandro Gonzalez Tablas.
McLean, however, is not part of the TT Olympic delegation but will be at the Games to ensure his prospects are on course to deliver a formidable showing against the world’s best sprint cyclists.
Paul and Browne will compete in the men’s sprint and keirin events while Campbell gears up for a gruelling women’s road race. The three cyclists are Olympic debutants.
The male cyclists returned to the WCC in October last year but both had lengthy training spells there, with McLean, prior to the pandemic.
Similarly, Campbell joined Spain-based Australian pro cycling club Team BikeExchange in October 2020 after one season competing for Italian team Valcar Travel & Service. Since her arrival there, she has been working with Tablas to further develop her craft ahead of the Games.
TT’s Olympic-bound cycling delegation comprises of the three cyclists, Tablas, Desmond Roberts (manager) and Elisha Greene (mechanic).
TT Cycling Federation (TTCF) president Rowena Williams said, “Craig McLean would be at the Games so he will work with the team. He is not one of TT’s delegates but he is going to be there with them (Paul and Browne).
“Teniel has also been putting in a lot of training and racing out in Spain which augurs well for her at the Olympics. Having done those tours in Europe and the training which followed, I think she would be ready to give a good showing of how she has prepared.”
Williams was pleased that TT was able to qualify three cyclists to the Summer Games. While she credited McLean and Tablas’ work, the TTCF president also commended former national coach Erin Hartwell for helping the two sprinters with their qualification process.
She said, “We’re very happy to have three cyclists representing the federation. Having our first female cyclist representing us in the endurance/road event at the Olympics is a major achievement. That is a positive step for TT cycling. It could only be an upward journey for the federation and the cyclists going forward.”
Williams wants the federation to stay one step ahead of its development of other local riders. She believes the fraternity must “keep the positive energy going” to groom others as up-and-coming cyclists seek to qualify for other major international meets.
On the team’s chances at the Games, Williams said the world’s top athletes will focus their attention on Paul in particular, the world record holder in the men’s Flying 200m event (sprint qualifier).
In 2019, a 19-year old-Paul shattered the Flying 200 world record in a time of 9.1 seconds at the Elite Pan American Track Cycling Championships in Bolivia. This record was held for seven years by France's Francois Pervis.
Williams concluded, “We’re looking forward to the guys really going out there and performing at the highest level. We expect they will do well.
“We know that all eyes will be on Nicholas specifically as he’s the world record holder. He will be definitely one of our athletes that will be watched by all teams and not only TT. Kwesi will also be nothing shy of the best.”