Sunday, February 25, 2018

Njisane opens medal bid

St Louis eyeing England upset


FINE-TUNING: Trinidad and Tobago cyclists, Njisane Phillip, left, and Quincy Alexander train in Glasgow, Scotland, in preparation for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Phillip and Alexander will be in action today at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, in the men’s sprint qualifying round. —Photo: PAUL VOISIN

Mark Fraser

In Glasgow

Njisane Phillip and Quincy Alexander will be on show at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome here in Glasgow, Scotland, today, in the qualifying round of the Commonwealth Games men’s sprint.

The Trinidad and Tobago cyclists are hoping for fast flying 200 metres times as they bid for favourable draws for the first round of the event, which will also be contested today.

Alexander is listed to ride in 15th position, while Phillip will be the 23rd cyclist in action in a field of 27. The qualifying phase is scheduled to start at 6.01 a.m. (TT time), while the first round gets going at 8.03.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Phillip just missed out on a sprint medal, the T&T wheelman finishing fourth. The Olympic gold medallist, Englishman Jason Kenny is among the cyclists who will bid for the Commonwealth title here in Glasgow.

T&T will see action today in seven sports—cycling, hockey, netball, squash, swimming, table tennis and triathlon.

At the Glasgow Hockey Centre, the T&T women face South Africa, and the men tackle England.

The netballers, meanwhile, take on regional rivals Barbados at the SECC (Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre).

Eighteen-year-old Dylan Carter will swim in lane one in the third of four men’s 400m freestyle heats. If he is among the eight fastest in the heats, Carter will return to the Tollcross Swimming Centre later today for the final.

At Strathclyde Park, David Cottle will fly the T&T flag in the men’s triathlon.

At Scotstoun Campus, T&T squash player Charlotte Knaggs faces Sri Lanka’s Naduni Gunawardane in the women’s singles round of 64, while her teammate Kerrie Sample tackles Welsh player Tesni Evans in the round of 32. In the men’s singles round of 64, Colin Ramasra will do battle with Sri Lankan Ravindu Laksiri, and Kale Wilson squares off against Australian Cameron Pilley.

Scotstoun Campus will also host the table tennis events. France-based Rheann Chung is expected to lead the T&T women’s team into battle in group three matches against Tanzania and England. And in the men’s team event, another France-based pro, Dexter St Louis will be in the spotlight for T&T in group two matches against England and arch-rivals Barbados.

At the 2002 Commonwealth Games, in Manchester, England, St Louis made the headlines when he won twice against the host nation in T&T’s 3-2 defeat. The five-time Caribbean men’s singles champion is eager not only to repeat those heroics here in Glasgow, but wants his team to go a step further and upset the English.

“I’m hoping…but not a repeat in that sense,” St Louis told the Express, “a repeat in the sense where Trinidad could win the match entirely. If we eliminate all the distractions before us, we could really do something good.”

The 46-year-old T&T player declared that his English opponents are well aware of his capabilities.

“I think they will be more afraid of me,” said the smiling southpaw. “It’s a new generation of young players--Liam Pitchford, Paul Drinkhall. For me it’s really a pleasure to play against them. They know me, they know what I did before. I think we respect one another a lot, so we will see how things go.”

St Louis, Chung, Curtis Humphreys, Aaron Wilson, Aleena Edwards and Ashley Quashie arrived in Glasgow on Tuesday, after competing at high altitude, at the Pan American Sport Festival in Mexico City, Mexico. The other T&T players, Yuvraaj Dookram and Catherine Spicer have been at the Games Village for more than a week.

Chung was outstanding in Mexico, earning bronze in the women’s singles. In the men’s singles, St Louis reached the last 16, and Humphreys, the round of 32.

St Louis said he was not satisfied with his Pan American Sport Festival performance.

“On a personal note it didn’t go too well. I had a lot of breathing problems. Even though I only lost one match, at the end of the tournament, I would have likedto play in that particular tournament in another condition. But so be it. It’s not an excuse, but the system of my play isn’t really structured for altitude.”

St Louis praised Chung for her medal-winning performance in Mexico, adding that he expects her to do well at the Commonwealth Games.

“Rheann could do something against England. She has to be careful interms of how she plays, how she diverts the ball, and stuff like that. But she really could do something good. It’s a question of how much energy you have left after Mexico, because Mexico really took a toll on the body.”

Team T&T today

(All TT times)

4.30 a.m. – Table tennis, Women vs Tanzania

6.00 a.m.- Swimming, Dylan Carter, Men’s 400 free, heat 3

6.01 a.m. – Cycling, Quincy Alexander, Njisane Phillip, Men’s sprint qualifying

After 6.00 a.m. – Squash, Singles, Charlotte Knaggs, Colin Ramasra, Kale Wilson, Kerrie Sample

7.50 a.m. – Table tennis, Men vs Barbados

8.03 a.m. – Cycling, Men’s sprint 1st round

9.00 a.m. – Hockey, Women vs South Africa

10.00 a.m. – Triathlon, Men, David Cottle

11.00 a.m. –Table tennis, Women vs England

12 noon – Netball vs Barbados

12.40 p.m. - Table tennis, Men vs England

2.00 p.m. – Hockey, Men vs England

2.16 p.m. - Swimming, men’s 400 free final