2019 Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Sportsman of the Year Nicholas Paul is looking to solidify his Tokyo Olympic qualification claim with solid performances in his next two outings.
Those events are the sixth and final leg of the 2019/2020 Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Milton, Canada from January 24-26 and the UCI Track Cycling World Championship in Berlin, Germany from February 26-March 1.
“My goal of Olympic qualification is coming along fine,” the 21-year-old speedster said. “So far I am on target for the Olympics, so I just have to keep up the good work and go to Canada, perform in the World Cup then go to World Championships, perform again and hopefully I will qualify for the Olympics.”
Paul plans to improve on his seventh place finish in the men’s individual sprint at the 2019 edition of the World Champs earlier this year in Poland.
In reaction to his latest awards at the TTOC 25th Annual Awards Ceremony last Sunday, Paul said: “It was great, it was great to win the People’s Choice. It means a lot that the fans are behind me and to win Sportsman of the Year was even better, especially knowing that all my hard work paid off and that people showed appreciation for my hard work.”
Paul claimed those titles on the basis of his exploits at the Pan American Games in Lima back in August and at the Elite Pan Am Track Cycling Championship in Bolivia back in October.
In Lima, the sprinter blazed a new Games record on his way to the gold medal in the men’s sprint then later in altitude of Bolivia when he smashed the world record on his way to another men’s sprint title.
“I think those were the two best moments for me,” Paul said. “Winning the gold medal in Pan Ams then winning the gold at the Elite Pan Am Championships and plus getting the world record, that was amazing and I was just happy to achieve those goals.”
Concerning the stripping of the Pan Am Games men’s team sprint gold medal for a positive doping of one of the team members — a decision currently under appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) — Paul said: “I don‘t have much details or the full story behind it, but losing a medal is always disappointing. But at the end of the day that is life; you just have to keep moving on and keep pushing forward.
He continued: “I am just moving on and letting the light shine through any darkness that comes, so I just have to keep working hard and putting my best foot forward and keep being the best that I can be.”
Paul described the racing in the current World Cup series as difficult, especially coming up against the world’s best, with the European riders dominating the sprint.
“So we just went out there and did our best. Racing against the best in the world, it opens your eyes to see how far you have to go; how hard you have to train to get to that level although we already there, but the level to be consistent on the top, consistently podium-capable. We just come back home and work hard to go again.”