T&T's Nicholas Paul, Njisane Phillip and Keron Bramble captured the gold medal in the final of the Team men's sprint event at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru on Thursday night.
The national team under the guidance of national cycling technical director Erin Hartwell clocked 43.792 seconds to earn T&T its first gold medal of the Games and second overall, thanks to a bronze from boxer Michael Alexander in the men's light welterweight class on Tuesday night.
Paul and Phillip held on to the national flag with Bramble in their victory lap as the T&T supporters which included T&T Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis cheered uncontrollably.
This after dominating the gold medal race whipping Columbia (44.584) to reach the top of the podium. Bramble clocked 17.938 in lap one (250m), Phillip produced 12.655 for the second lap and Paul, 13.379 in the third.
Earlier, the national cyclists knew fully well what was required to get into the gold medal race as they were the last team on the track in the three-lap event. Knowing this, Hartwell kept his riders warm by having the organisers place an extra gas warmer inside the local team's pit. Warmers infiltrated the area to ensure that cyclists were comfortable within the Velodrome which is very cold.
T&T was the fastest qualifiers with a time of 44.260 seconds. Browne completed the first lap in 17.990, Phillip was the quickest in lap two with 12.885 and Paul with 13.385 in lap three as Hartwell with both arms outstretched pumping them inwards to encourage his rider across the like in the fastest qualifying time overall. The 10 or so supporters hoisting the national flag jumped up from their seats in the stands overjoyed with the performance of the riders.
The other finalist, Columbia, had in the previous race crossed the line in 45.046 to eliminate Mexico (45.843) and Peru (49.939) from the gold medal race. Brazil, with its 45.279 clockings, was keeping hope that it holds on to the other qualifying spot until the T&T team erased that dream. The Brazilians earlier raced Mexico in the bronze medal match and were victorious after their opponents false-started twice.
Phillip and Paul will have little recovery time as they are back at the track today to race in the men's sprint event from 12.05 pm. Phillip holds the meet record of 9.977, achieved in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011.
Akil Campbell was in ninth place in the men's omnium at press time.
His strategy in the scratch race worked relatively well, earning him 24 points in the 10km (40 laps) race. Campbell placed ninth of the 14 riders in a race won by Mexican Ignacios Prada who at 20-lap took an unreachable lead and earned full 40 points.
In the following tempo race, Campbell moved up one spot into eighth after earning 30 points with his sixth-place finish. Venezuela's Ramiro Pulgar moved ahead of the pack but after four laps the T&T cyclist caught up with him to produce his first point of the race. He stayed with the Venezuelan rider and topped five laps (6,7,10,12,14) and at the end of the 36-lap race, had 54 overall points.
Taking the event was American Daniel Holloway and the overall lead with 76 points.
In the elimination race, Campbell was the six-rider out of the running for the top spot which provided winner Felipe Penaloza of Chile with full 40 points to move to the top of the 14-rider standings. Campbell earned 24 points to have 78 points after the three races but slipped back down to the ninth place with only the points race remaining.
T&T men's hockey team sank to its second straight defeat in the preliminary round in Pool A, falling to Argentina, 6-0.
It could have been worse for the local "Stickmen" but goalkeeper Karlos Stephens pulled off some marvellous saves which prevented total annihilation. Stephens produced six saves (two penalty corners and four field goals) between the uprights.
The national unit trailed 3-0 at the half with Jose Tolini (1.57) scoring the lone goal of the first quarter while in the second period, Agustin Mazzilli (24.49) and Enrique Parades (28.44) netted the second and third, respectively to give Argentina the three-goal advantage.
Down the other end, Argentina's keeper Juan Vivaldi had little work to do as T&T was not getting scoring opportunities and remained goalless into the third session while the Argentinians added two more goals off of Maico Casella (40.33) and Mazzilli with his second item in 44.40, to go up, 5-0.
In the final period, Lucas Martinez in 48.22 gives his team a bigger lead, 6-0. T&T, coached by Glenn "Fido" Francis" did get a chance at a consolation goal but its lone penalty corner taken by veteran Kwandwane Browne in 49.41 was saved by keeper Vivaldi.
On Saturday, the hockey men will seek redemption when they try to take down Chile in their final match in the preliminaries from 11 am (T&T time). Chile crushed Cuba, 4-0 in yesterday's other Pool A match.
Roger Daniel did not make the final cut to compete in the final of the men's 25-metre rapid fire pistol event after he placed 18th overall following stage two of the qualification round at the Las Palmas Range.
The local shooter ended with a score of 538, entering the second stage in 19th place with a score of 271 from stage one. On Thursday morning, he scored 267 to add to his total to finish down the order in an event which had 23 participants. Only the top six shooters advanced to the final round.
Friday's T&T schedule
Men's Sprint qualifying - Njisane Phillip, Nicholas Paul, 12.05
Women's 25m rapid fire pistol (precision), Marsha Bullen-Jones, 10 am
Men's skeet - Robert Auerbach, 10 am