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Alexander, Paul, and Maharajh shine
It was a night of thrills and spills on the opening programme of the 2016 Easter International Cycling Grand Prix at the Arima Velodrome, Arima, on Friday night with sprint ace, T&T’s Quincy Alexander earning gold medal in the prestigious Match Sprint after just one ride, before a spill sent him to the hospital with major injuries.
Alexander won the first ride in a best-of-three final sprint convincingly by outsprinting his counterpart David Espinoza of the United States in a dash to the finish. But on the second ride Espinoza rode out of lane and collided with Alexander as he tried to prevent the latter driving past him on the outside lane with over 100 metres to go. The collision sent both riders crashing to the concrete strip. Espinoza was treated at the venue for minor injuries and did not compete after that, while Alexander’s father Nigel Alexander had to be restrained from handing the American rider a mouthful.
Alexander, who recorded a blistering 10.810 seconds in the Flying 200 metres earlier, was taken to the nearby Arima District Medical Facility where he was treated for major bruises and discharged. The Racing authorities of the event later sanctioned Espinoza and awarded Alexander (Quincy) the gold medal for the event.
Earlier, in a 2-Lap race for Masters 60-69, another spill on the opening lap sent Kenny Young, Earl Gonzales and Pat Nelson to the hospital. Young received a broken collar bone and Gonzales broken ribs, but Nelson escaped with only bruises to his body.
American Mandy Marquadt secured the gold in the Women Match Sprint, recovering from a defeat in the opening ride by T&T’s Kollyn St George to beat her in the other two rides. St George was a comfortable winner in the first and proved quicker in a sprint to the finish. The American later kept her at bay in the other two rides and held her off, despite the chants of a large crowd cheering St George on.
Minister of Sports Darryl Smith and Chairman of the Sport Company of T&T Michael Phillips were on hand to see rising talent Nicholas Paul woo the crowd with his blinding speed. After producing the third fastest time in the flying 200 metres in 11.314, Paul got the crowd on his side when he almost pipped countryman Alexander in the opening ride of match sprint semifinals, losing by a fraction of a wheel.
Later he earned a third ride in the semis when Alexander lost on a technicality, but missed out on a final berth by being held off by Alexander in another close sprint to the finish. However, Paul snatched the bronze by beating Colombian Diego Pena in two rides, to the delight of the crowd.
Meanwhile Varun Maharajh proved why he is one of T&T’s top endurance riders by capturing the UCI 15km Scratch Race. An early break consisting Edwin Sutherland of Barbados, Jose Aguirre (Mexico), Gevan Samuel of club Braves and Sheldon Ramjit looked dangerous early but work by the T&T Team ensured they remained in front.
With 10 km remaining, Maharajh got out of the pack with Gavyn Nero (Team DPS) in tow and Marloe Rodman (Jamaica) chasing. He showed his class by connecting with the lead bunch and rallying his teammates in the final 100 metres to cross the finish line for victory.