Saturday, February 17, 2018


T&T cyclist 4th in men's sprint


FIRST AND FOURTH: Great Britain's Jason Kenny sprints ahead of Trinidad and Tobago's Njisane Nicholas Phillip to win a track cycling men's sprint semi-final event during the 2012 Summer Olympics, yesterday, in London. Kenny went on to clinch the gold medal while Phillip lost out on the bronze medal, finishing fourth overall. –Photo: AP

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Njisane Phillip has issued a warning to the world's sprint elite, ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"It was hard getting here, but the target was 16. Tell them, watch out in 16. I'm coming."

The 21-year-old Trinidad and Tobago cyclist did his country proud in the 2012 Olympic Games men's sprint event, at the Velodrome, here in London, England. But yesterday, his bid for precious metal ended, Australia's Shane Perkins beating him in two straight rides in the battle for bronze.

Earlier, Phillip was beaten 2-0 by eventual gold medallist Jason Kenny. In the final, the British rider got the better of France's Gregory Bauge 2-0.

Phillip fell just short in his effort to become T&T's first-ever Olympic medallist in the sport of cycling, the reigning Pan American champion finishing fourth.

"I'm really, really happy. It's fourth place at the Olympics. I didn't get the bronze. I really, really wanted to get that medal, but everything takes time."

Only once before had a T&T cyclist finished as high as fourth at the Olympic Games, Gene Samuel missing out on men's kilometre time trial bronze in 1984 by four-hundredths of a second.

"He (Gene) actually messaged me this morning," Phillip told the Express. "He told me best of luck and he supported me all the way. Just to get those older guys to give me that support , just give me that energy, is really, really good…for them to look down and see the potential and give me those great words to keep moving on and raising cycling in Trinidad and Tobago."

Phillip will be back at the Velodrome at five o'clock this morning (T&T time), competing in the opening round of the men's keirin.

At the Olympic Stadium, yesterday, 20-year-old Jehue Gordon finished sixth in the men's 400 metres hurdles final in 48.86 seconds.

Dominican Republic's Felix Sanchez emerged victorious with a 47.63 run, adding London 2012 gold to his 2004 title. American Michael Tinsley snapped up silver in 47.91, while the bronze medal went to Puerto Rico's Javier Culson (48.10). T&T-born American, Kerron Clement (49.15) finished eighth and last.

"I thank God," Gordon told the Express, "for this wonderful talent, and the opportunity to come out and represent the Red, White and Black.

"I learned a lot from this experience. It's not as easy as it looks, to come from an elite bunch to get selected into an elite group for the Olympics, into another elite group for the final. It's a big, big, big opportunity for me, and I'm just thankful for it."

Semoy Hackett and Kai Selvon are both through to the women's 200m semifinal round.

Yesterday, Hackett finished second in heat one in 22.81 seconds to secure an automatic berth in today's semis. Selvon, meanwhile, was fourth in heat four in a personal best 22.85, and progressed as a "fastest loser".

At 3.33 p.m., Hackett faces the starter in the second semifinal heat. And eight minutes later, Selvon will be on show in heat three.

Cleopatra Borel could not contain herself, following the women's shot put qualifying event. She had just missed out on a berth in the London 2012 final by nine centimetres. The tears flowed and flowed, and then flowed some more, the 33-year-old T&T athlete eventually collecting herself for an interview with the Express.

"I feel really disappointed and proud at the same time because I went in there and I fought as hard as I could. This is probably top-three for me in qualifying rounds, in terms of distance and performance, but I just didn't have those couple centimetres to get there."

Borel's best effort in yesterday's qualifying event came in the second round, the three-time Olympian throwing the iron ball 18.36 metres. The effort earned her 13th spot–nine centimetres short of the 18.45m mark achieved by the 12th and last qualifier, Chile's Natalia Duco.

Borel struggled with injuries on the Road to London, battling hard throughout the season to be ready for the Olympic Games.

"I just had one injury after the next–Achilles, knee, hand. I've been trying to deal with them. Actually I'm in the best shape I've been in all season, and I know that I gave it my best because I was consistently around the same distance. In the end, I pulled together and did the best I could."

Borel opened with an 18.26m throw, improved to 18.36m, and then closed off the competition at 18.34m.

"I've struggled this year. My best for the year is 18.69. I worked really hard to get to this point, and it's really disappointing to be in 13th place. But that's just the way it went today," she said, the US-based thrower fighting back more tears."

Borel's battle to stay healthy has left her contemplating her future in the sport.

"I'm proud of the work that I did and the career I've had. I have to talk to the medical team and other folks, because it's really been a struggle and it's been really very painful. I have to talk to them and get their advice on what's best and what's next."

Borel–who finished an impressive 10th on her Olympic debut in 2004–ruled out any possibility of competing at the 2016 Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"Nooo. No, no, no, no," she said with a laugh. "I would be 37 in Rio, so no.

"I think I can hold my head high. I've worked really hard for a very long time, over ten years, to represent Trinidad and Tobago, and I hope that everyone is proud and happy of what I've been able to accomplish. I feel as if I've helped the field events grow, and to bring out that awareness that we're not just a track country, but we have field events people as well."

At 5.17 this morning (T&T time), T&T's Wayne Davis II competes in heat two in the opening round of the men's 110m hurdles. His teammate, Mikel Thomas faces the starter at 5.24, in heat three.

And in the 200m, Rondel Sorrillo squares off against France's Christophe Lemaitre at 6.58 a.m., in the second of seven men's 200m first round heats.