Cycling had one of its better seasons during the course of the 2013 calendar year with several outstanding achievements, mainly by the sport’s youthful riders.
On November 3, last year’s Olympic debutant, sprint sensation Njisane Phillip, copped Trinidad and Tobago’s (T&T) first-ever World Cup medal when he grabbed match sprint silver at the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester, England.
The 22-year-old got past world ranked riders Valentin Savitskiy of Russia, Frenchman Michael D’Almeida and Matthew Crampton of Great Britain, all in straight rides, before running into the red-hot German Robert Fostermann in the finale, where he emerged second best.
Phillip also recorded a personal best time at sea level.
Another rider having a breakthrough year was junior, Justin Roberts. Roberts brought home two silver medals from the Pan American Junior Cycling Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico, in July. The 19-year-old Drive Phase Sport (DPS) rider set a new national junior record at the Kilometre Time Trial with a time of one minute, 03:789 seconds en route to silver.
Roberts also clinched silver in the Men’s Sprint and achieved qualification for the 2013 Junior World Championships, which was held in Scotland in August.
At the end of the Junior Pan Ams, T&T walked away with two silver medals, two new national records and eight personal best times.
And rounding off the achievement list is 16-year-old Keiana Lester.
The Bikesmith road rider, who set a personal best of 37.920 over 500 metres at the Junior Pan Am, went on to capture the junior female 44.40km road race in one hour, 38:28 seconds at the eight Junior Caribbean Cycling Championships in Aruba.
The Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation’s president, Rowena Williams and Gregory D’Andrade, vice-president racing, spoke with the Express on the 2013 cycling year.
“(The year) 2013 for us was a good year as we had a lot of successes, especially with the juniors,” Williams said, adding that coming out of an Olympic year the focus was really on the young riders
“I think we did well with Justin Roberts and Keiana Lester really going out there bringing home medals, especially with Keiana being the first female cyclist to bring home a road medal, it was a great achievement for cycling this year.”
Williams said that Njisane Phillip’s achievement of a World Cup medal could not be counted out either.
She said one of the main reasons for the successes they achieved was as a result of the decision the Federation took to focus on development and where it wanted to go.
On her predictions for 2014 she said: “We really are looking forward to a Commonwealth medal next year. Additionally, we are expecting more medals at our Elite and Junior Pan Ams, that’s our aspirations for next year.
D’Andrade echoed Williams’ sentiments about 2013 being a good year, adding that based on those results, he’s looking forward to even greater things next year.
He said that Phillip’s World Cup medal definitely stood out since he defeated some of the top cyclists in the world in picking up match sprint silver.
D’Andrade added that Lester is a young promising female cyclist who he believes will be a future star.
“I would love to see her get into a programme next year as she will be competing as a junior rider, and I really want her to go forward.
D’Andrade said the racing committee met last week to plan for next year and there’s hope for a brighter outlook with a heavily scheduled racing calendar.
“We have Commonwealth Games, Pan Am Games, CAC Games, so we must sit down and plan because now we are looking at medals and not just sending a team out there to compete for the sake of sending a team.
“Medals are what we’re looking at now, so we have to have a proper structure in place to achieve that,” D’Andrade said.