Still a work in progress: T&T cyclist Paul pleased with PanAm Games execution but eyes more improvements

By November 03, 2023
Nicholas Paul Nicholas Paul file

A series of unstoppable performances on the International Cycling Union (UCI) circuits in Canada and Germany, followed by a classy display at the PanAm Elite Track Cycling Championships in Argentina, a performance which complemented a gold medal win at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Add to that another double medal-winning performance at the Pan American (PanAm) Games in Santiago, Chile.

For many, that would more than represent a successful cycling career. But for Trinidad and Tobago's Nicholas Paul, this is only the beginning. In fact, despite his many successes to date, Paul still views his career as a work in progress, possibly because he is still hunting that one prize or moment to really define things and that is the Olympic Games dream.

Much like he did at the PanAm Elite Track Cycling Championships in Argentina where he won the Sprints and Keirin, while clocking a new track record 9.349 seconds in the flying 200m, Paul once again demonstrated his qualities as one of the best track cyclists in the world when he won gold in the final of the Men’s Sprint at the 2023 Pan American Games.

The outstanding 25-year-old out-paced his rival Jair Tjon of Suriname to top the podium, while Kevin Santiago Qunitero Chavarro of Colombia bettered Canada’s Nicholas John Wammes in the race for the bronze medal.

For Paul, the win added to his Pan Am Games title won in Lima, Peru in 2019 and he rightly expressed delight at the accomplishments.

“Firstly I would like to thank God for a safe meet. I am very pleased with my performance at this stage of the season because my preparation coming into the Pan-American Games was really good, and so I knew it was all left to my execution as the key factor which would determine how things would turnout.

“Fortunately, I executed well both in the flying 200m and the Sprints achieving some excellent results. Creating a new games record is always a special moment for me and my country,” Paul told SportsMax.tv.

The modest twin island republic cyclist returned a day later to cop a silver medal in the Men’s Keirin final.

On that occasion, Paul used his electric sprint speed in the final lap to power himself to second place, after falling behind the pack with a couple of laps remaining in the six-lap event.

The event was won by Colombia's Kevin Quintero, the reigning world champion in the event, while Mexico's Juan Ruiz Teran was third.

Paul, who has been a model of consistency throughout the season, attributed his continuous improvement and, by extension, success to the time spent in training honing his craft.

“It’s means a lot to me just to know that my hard work is paying off and I’m able to show the world that Trinidad and Tobago has a lot of talent. Like I said before, my preparations for the PanAm Games have been great and so I am pleased that I was able to accomplish all my goals to an extent,” he shared.

That said, Paul hinted at the possibility of much more to come, as he intends to continue pushing the limits and discover what he is truly able to achieve –next year’s Olympic Games in Paris being his next immediate target.

“It’s all a work in progress, my plan is to build on this performance and to do so, I intend to keep putting in those hard hours to keep getting stronger and faster. My overall goal for this year and beyond is to firstly qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games and secondly, try to win a medal or medals at the Olympic Games for Trinidad and Tobago. But for now, the focus is some much-needed rest and recovery," Paul declared.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

Related items

  • Tyra Gittens: Overcoming adversity and redefining her path to Olympic glory Tyra Gittens: Overcoming adversity and redefining her path to Olympic glory

    At just 25 years old, Tyra Gittens has already etched her name in the annals of collegiate track and field as an 18-time NCAA Division 1 All-American and a three-time NCAA Champion. Her journey to the pinnacle of American collegiate sports was marked by triumphs in the heptathlon, long jump and high jump which showcased her versatility and athleticism.

    However, Gittens' path has not been without its challenges. Following her successful collegiate career, which culminated in gold in the heptathlon despite an ankle injury, Gittens faced a setback in 2023 with a retroactive drug suspension due to an expired Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) certificate. This suspension not only affected her competitive results but also tested her resolve and commitment to the sport she loves.

    In an exclusive interview with Sportsmax.TV, Gittens opened up about the hurdles she faced in recent years and her journey towards redemption as she prepares for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

    “It has been a process, I will tell you,” Gittens shared when asked about her preparation. “I feel like this year has been a year of rebuilding. I’m in a new body and a new mindset. I’ve never been in this mindset, never been in this body, so I am excited to see what my limits are. I think something big is going to happen this year.”

    Transitioning from the demanding heptathlon to specializing in the long jump has required adjustments in Gittens' training regimen. "My training has been different because I am no longer doing the heptathlon," she explained. "I've been learning different techniques in the long jump and also on the track, finally learning how to sprint. I feel like I’ve fallen into a very professional body, not just college."

    Gittens’ post-collegiate journey was not without bumps in the road. The year 2023 began well enough with the USA-based Trinidadian signing a professional contract with Puma but barely a month later, things took a downward turn.

    World Athletics’ Athletics Integrity United (AIU) ruled that she was ineligible to compete for six months after a sample she provided in June 2022 was found to contain methylphenidate/ritalinic acid, a prohibited substance that is an ingredient of the medication she takes for ADHD. At the time the sample was taken, Gittens’ TUE had expired.

     However, the AIU said it accepted that she had not realized that her previous TUE had expired by the time that the first sample was taken at the national Trinidad and Tobago championships on June 26, 2022.

    “She was not advised that the TTO Sample was positive for methylphenidate, or that her TUE had expired for this purpose, until November 2022, after the sample collected from her at the World Championships on July 23, 2022,” the AIU said adding that they also accepted that Gittens had no information at the time of her second World Athletics sample that her TUE application was incomplete.

    “The AIU also accepts that the medication was used for legitimate medical reasons and the athlete did not intend to cheat. Accordingly, the AIU accepts that the violation was not ‘intentional’.”

    It was a blot on her resume that she could have done without and one that was hard for her to take.

    Reflecting on the challenges of her suspension and the mental toll it took, Gittens likened it to one of the toughest periods of her life. "It was probably the hardest thing I ever had to deal with," she admitted. "I always compare it to the year I lost my brother. This period of my life, these last two years, that was definitely second."

    "After college, I was burnt out physically and mentally. I don’t know how I went on to Tokyo (Olympics) because my body was completely done. Tokyo was sheer will," Gittens continued. "But after that, I crashed. I didn’t have the motivation for track anymore because I gave it my all that year. It was challenging, but in that challenge, I found some serious guidance. I found my system for success and have been using it religiously to push myself to new heights."

    As she soars towards those new heights, 2024 has largely been good to her so far. With leaps of 6.56, 6.68 and a windy 6.72m, Gittens’ progress has been trending along an upward trajectory as she nears competing at her national championships next month.

    She attributed her renewed focus and resilience to adopting a growth mindset. "The growth mindset is just a theory that all things can be achieved with hard work and effort," she explained. "It’s about how you handle failure, how you view fear. Instead of seeing failure as the end, I view it as a new opportunity to try a new way. With a growth mindset, I believe that everything I put my mind to and apply effort towards, I can improve."

    Looking ahead to the Olympic Games, Tyra Gittens is determined to exceed her expectations and make her mark in the world of track and field. With a newfound perspective and a relentless work ethic, she is poised to inspire both on and off the track as she chases Olympic glory.

     

     

     

     

  • Jamaica’s Isabelle David and Alana Walker advance to final of women’s all-around at Pan Am Gymnastics Championships in Colombia Jamaica’s Isabelle David and Alana Walker advance to final of women’s all-around at Pan Am Gymnastics Championships in Colombia

    Both members of Jamaica’s female gymnastics team of Isabelle David and Alana Walker have advanced to the final round of the women’s all-around category at the Pan American Championships being held in Santa Maria, Colombia.

    David’s score in the qualification round for all-around was 47.967 which placed her 12th while Walker’s score of 47.067 placed her 16th among the 24 finalists. David was also named as a reserve for the final rounds of both the beam and floor exercise categories.

    Her scores in the beam and floor were 12.267 and 12.200, respectively.

    "I am so excited to have made it to all-around finals and be a reserve for two events," David told Sportsmax.tv.

    "It is such a great accomplishment and I'm proud of myself for being able to achieve it. I'm so honoured that I was able to represent Jamaica to the best of my abilities during the qualifying competition. I am so excited to have another opportunity during the all-around final competition. I hope to show off all of the skills that i have worked so hard to get," she added.

    Walker reacted to competing for Jamaica on the international stage once again.

    “It felt really good out to get back out there on the international competition floor after a long three years off,” she said.

    “Although it wasn’t my best, I’m very proud of how I performed yesterday. It was fun to be out there with Izzy and the coaching staff and very exciting to find out I made all-around finals. I’m very thankful to team Jamaica for their continued support and belief in me. I’m ready to get back out there, do my best and represent Jamaica with Izzy tomorrow,” she added.

     

  • No place like home: Simmons anticipates return to T&T as part of Papua New Guinea's staff for T20 World Cup No place like home: Simmons anticipates return to T&T as part of Papua New Guinea's staff for T20 World Cup

    Former West Indies head coach Phil Simmons says he is looking forward to being back in his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago while assisting Papua New Guinea through their ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup campaign in which they will rub shoulders with West Indies.

    Simmons, 61, joins Oceania side as a specialist coach, and he will provide Papua New Guinea's head coach Tatenda Taibu with some added experience and knowledge of playing in Caribbean conditions during the June 1-29 showpiece, which will also see games being played in United States.

    “My role here is as a consultant coach and how I put across my experience, not just playing in World Cups, but playing in the Caribbean and the things that we should be looking at to make sure we do it right in the Caribbean and especially the venues that we play at,” Simmons shared.

    Having built a strong reputation working with international sides such as Zimbabwe, Ireland, and Afghanistan, Simmons, who has played the sport for 14 years and coached for a further 18 years, was pressed for time to spend in the Caribbean and, as such, welcomed the opportunity to spend some time in the twin island republic.

    “It’s been a long time in the game. It’s always brilliant to come home, always brilliant to come back to any part of the West Indies you know how beautiful it is here. I’m looking forward to getting home, which is Trinidad. Having people come here, me getting back here, it’s always a great thing, it’s always something to look forward to," he declared.

    Simmons, who recently joined the Papua New Guinea squad in their pre-World Cup training camp in St Kitts, expressed pleasure with what he has seen so far.

    “Their energy is unbelievable. Their warm-ups alone, got me tired. The guys look like they have settled in really well. In training, we started to get out in the middle of their game, so they started on some of the things they have to do here in the Caribbean, and it’s nice to see the energy that’s among this squad," Simmons said.

    “I’ve known the head coach [Taibu] for a long time, and he’s always been energetic. There is always a lot of energy, but the players seem to be pushing him where that is concerned, and so I like that atmosphere in the team, I like the liveliness in the team," he added.

    Papua New Guinea will contest Group C alongside West Indies, Afghanistan, New Zealand, and Uganada. They will open against the Caribbean side on June 2, at the National Cricket Stadium in Guyana.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.