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NATIONAL cyclists have credited the work and professionalism of technical director of the TT Cycling Federation (TTCF) Erin Hartwell, for the outstanding achievement of the cycling team at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Colombia. However, they said more support is needed for the sport to grow in TT.

Most of the TT cyclists returned home yesterday to a hero’s welcome at the VIP Lounge of the Piarco International Airport. Among those who welcomed the cyclists were TTCF president Robert Farrier, Sport Company of TT chairman Douglas Camacho, director physical education and sport at the Ministry of Sport Patrice Charles, along with parents, friends and other family members. Triple gold medallist Nicholas Paul got a loud cheer as he walked out to greet his well wishers, who were dressed in red shirts with his name printed on them.

The 19 year old made a name for himself in Colombia, winning gold in the men’s sprint, men’s 1km time trial and the men’s team sprint along with Kwesi Browne and Njisane Phillip. In total, the TT cyclists won nine medals at the CAC Games. Also winning gold was Teneil Campbell in the women’s road race. Earning bronze medals were Browne in the men’s keirin, Teneil in the women’s individual pursuit, women’s omnium and women’s scratch race events and Teneil’s brother Akil in the men’s omnium.

Browne, speaking on the performance of the men’s team sprint said, “I am happy to see the change that we have made under coach Erin Hartwell in the short space of time. That is the first time we have done under 44 seconds in the team sprint.”

Explaining the impact of Hartwell, Browne said, “Firstly it is just his professionalism – his mindset towards everything. Even something small as time, you have to be on time. In training you have to give 100 per cent and you can’t miss any sessions.”

Browne, 24, said more support can be given to cycling from corporate TT. “They should come on board because we can’t do it out of our pockets, because as everybody knows cycling is a very expensive sport...we can’t do it without the support,” Browne said.

Phillip, the veteran at age 27, said TT boasts a proliferation of young talent that can excel on the world stage.

“I definitely think corporate sponsors need to get on board just helping the sport of cycling. We have a lot of young talent up and coming performing on the world level.

Teneil Campbell, it is a tremendous feat that she had being able to medal on the road today.”

Phillip said Hartwell is making some positive strides. “I want to thank coach Mr Erin Hartwell for his work day in day out, just being able to prepare us as we get into this Olympic qualifier, which will be Pan Ams in four weeks,” he said.

Paul was glad to be back in TT and elated to see his family welcome him in style. “It is always a pleasure coming home to meet family after a long trip and I am thankful to have this support out here right now,” he said.

He said focusing on acquiring sponsors is a distraction as racing is his number one priority.

“For me that (sponsorship) is not my part. I am just focusing on riding my bike to the best of my ability, and just doing what I do best,” he declared.

Looking ahead to 2020 Olympics Paul said, “To make it’s the next level; I always say hard work (is key), you have to keep putting in hard work, nothing is easy in life. You just have to keep working hard and putting in your best efforts everyday and you will get the results you want.”

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