T&T's cycling team of Njisane Phillip, Nicholas Paul and Kwesi Browne faces a more than hopeful future ahead of the coming UCI World Cups in New Zealand and Hong Kong this month, as well as for the other qualifiers for the Olympic Games on Tokyo Japan in 2020.
However, the challenge is for them not to become complacent, as it is still early days yet in the qualification process for the Olympic Games.
Instrumental coach and technical director, Canadian Erin Hartwell said his team is ahead of schedule with expectations. He expects the riders to pedal into full swing by July-August of next year. Hartwell's predictions about the team have been unfolding before his very eyes, and if this trend continues, T&T could see one or two of its riders mounting the podium in Japan.
"Before the start of the World Cups, I expected them to be a bit soft, and gradually progressing towards New Zealand and Hong Kong World Cup events this month and later at the other qualifiers, and it has been happening just that way," Hartwell explained.
The team's foray at the Berlin Germany World Cup event produced an overall 10th place finish which did not afford them the opportunity to contest the second round. And later Kwesi Browne's second place result in his heat in the keirin event, as well as a similar finish in the repercharge, also prevented him from progressing to the second round, needing to be among the top finishers only.
However, two weeks, it was just as Hartwell said it would have been. In the team sprint Phillip, Paul and Browne produced sub 10 performances on their respective legs for an overall fifth position that took them to round two of the World Cup for the first time. Paul, who only recently was elevated to a senior rider, caused jaws to drop with a personal best sea-level time in London and Berlin.
He also finished fifth place overall in the sprints in London.
Now the TT trio will have to prove themselves at the New Zealand World Cup meeting from January 17-20.
According to Hartwell, "The riders will be super ready." After just three out of 10 Olympic qualifiers the TT cyclists are precariously positioned, having comfortably gone through the rigours of the UCI-points pressure of the early stages, and being able to hold their own among the best in the world. The Hong Kong world cup, scheduled for January 25-27, is expected to see improved performances from the T&T team.
The team has been hard in training throughout the Christmas holidays and could be on the cusp of record-breaking performances during this month.
Apart from the World Cups, the TT cyclists also have the Pan American Games and World Championships, among other tournaments to qualify for the Olympics.