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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

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Trinidad and Tobago’s fastest man on two wheels, Njisane Phillip, pedalled to this nation’s first and only medal of the 2015 Elite Pan American Cycling Championships yesterday as he captured Men’s Sprint silver when the curtains fell at the Parque Penalolen Velodrome in Santiago, Chile.

The 24-year old rode valiantly throughout the rounds but was unable to fuel his winning momentum in the gold medal ride-off against hemispheric rival, Colombian Fabian Puerta.

After advancing convincingly out of the opening stages of Sprint competition on Saturday, Phillip lined up along the 250m track for his semi-final meeting against another familiar face, Canadian Hugo Barrette.

Both Phillip and Barrette have a decorated sporting history with the latter most recently pipping the TT cyclist in a sprint final in Ontario, Canada, back in July.

However, Barrette was outdone by the 2012 Olympic Men’s Sprint fourth place rider this time around.

The Canadian sprinter seemed destined to repeat his recent victory after grabbing a hairline win in the opening semi-final ride. In the second ride however, Phillip took to the front with 375m remaining and despite a surge by Barrette in the final 50m, he was unable to trump Phillip, forcing a third and final ride for a shot at gold. Barrette started the third ride with an accelerated pace as he tried to fend off a late rush from Phillip.

The turn of speed from the Trinbagonian was just too much and Phillip was able to nose out Barrette on the line and advance to face Puerta in the championship ride.

In the final, however, the Colombian clinched a narrow win in the first ride to go one up. Phillip was unable to repeat his semi-final heroics in the second ride and had to settle for silver. His runner- up placing now provides the Siparia-bred cyclist with valuable UCI (International Cycling Union) points towards his World Cup and Olympic qualification.

Additionally, endurance rider Varun Maharajh placed seventh overall after completing six gruelling stages of the Men’s Omnium. Following the three opening stages of Omnium competition on Saturday, Maharajh stood in sixth place overall with three events to go. In yesterday’s 1km Time Trial, the TT cyclist placed seventh and then eighth in the Flying Lap to position himself into eighth place overall going into the final event, 40km Points Race.

Maharajh displayed good endurance to finish fourth in the Points Race, compiling an additional 30 points towards his total.

In the end however, his place would see him at seventh overall and finish just a few points short of a podium finish.

His performance here now sees him in line to become TT ’s first ever endurance cyclist at a World Cup.

But, confirmation of his presence at the coming World Cups will only be made when the UCI releases its updated point standings on September 15.

Earlier in the day, Aziza Browne and Jodi Goodridge tried valiantly but couldn’t advance to the semi-final of the Keirin with both finishing fourth in their respective repechage heats.

After press time last night, Maharajh and youngster Akil Campbell were scheduled to become the first national cyclists to compete in the Madison race at an international meet.

The 17-member TT contingent is expected to depart the South American continent today and arrive in Trinidad tomorrow.

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