On the Verge: The Nicholas Paul Story
  Gavin Luke
April 2019

When Nicholas Paul started cycling the intention was to use the discipline to keep him fit to play college football. However, sometimes the best intended plans may yield totally different results. Emerging from Gasparillo, Nicholas attended Naparima College and is instead now well entrenched in the sport of Track Cycling.

Recently a member of the Breakaway Cycling Club (B.C.C.), he now cycles unattached but has been representing Trinidad and Tobago since 2016. At the national level the young man’s achievements have been quite outstanding. In 2014, less than one year after starting cycling, he managed to achieve an eleven medal haul in both the National Track Championships and the National Road Championships. Five of these were gold medals. By 2016 he managed to attain the title of Junior Men Match Sprint, Junior Men Keirin and Junior Men 1km Time Trial. In the process he set a new National Junior Record of 11.173 seconds at the Arima Velodrome. 2017 closed with Nicholas achieving gold in the Elite Men Match Sprint, U23 Men's Match Sprint and the U23 Men’s Keirin in his first Elite and U23 National Track Championship.

On the international front, Nicholas, along with national teammates Njisane Phillip and Keron Bram­ble, recently missed out on a bronze medal in the Men’s Team Sprint Fi­nals in the sixth and fi­nal round of the Tis­sot UCI Track Cy­cling World Cup in Hong Kong competing against team Poland in the third place ride off.

Nicholas quickly admits that all his success is possible firstly through God Almighty, with whom all things are possible, the great foundation work done by Mr. Anthony Sellier, my two stints at UCI and the present work being done with the National Team under coach Erin Hartwell".

Mr. Erin Hartwell is the Technical Director of cycling under whom Nicholas trains as a member of the National Elite Cycling Pool. His program currently includes training four days a week at the National Cycling Centre in Balmain Couva. In 2016 he was voted Junior Sportsman of the year by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee.

Unknown to many, Nicholas has already represented Trinidad and Tobago in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Belarus, Australia, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Suriname and France. At the Junior Worlds Cycling Championships in Aigle, Switzerland in 2016 he managed the commendable placings of 12th and 14th in the Junior Men Flying 200m and the Junior Men Match Sprint respectively. “Cycling is pretty much about focus and training and to be a good athlete you must have a great work ethic,” he declares. 

2018 also showed much promise for Nicholas as he competed in both the Cycling World Cup in January and the Commonwealth Games Gold Coast in Australia in April. He further strengthened his positioning in the match sprint as he finished 5th in the Elite Men's match sprint in Belarus. On top of these performances he also achieved three gold medals and a CAC record in the Flying 200m (9.720) at the CAC Games and a gold and silver medal at the Pan American

Elite Track Championships where he registered the second fastest time in history in the Flying 200m (9.378).

The governing body of International Cycling, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), currently maintains international rankings for its member countries. Nicholas is currently ranked in the top 5 in the world in the Elite Men’s sprints. Nicholas closed 2018 with the following accolades for his performances on the track: the Humming Bird Silver medal, the TV6 Viewers’ Choice Sport Personality of the Year, Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee People’s Choice Award and the Express Individual of Year Youth Award for 2018.

He is however not content with this. His aspirations are to make the podium at the 2020 Japan Olympics via medalling for Trinidad and Tobago in the Team and Individual match sprint and keirin events. Once the team qualifies for the Japan Olympics in the Team sprint it opens the opportunity for two places, determined by the accompanying coach, to represent T&T in the individual match sprint and the Keirin event. It should be noted that the Keirin is a form of motor-paced cycle racing in which track cyclists sprint for victory following a speed-controlled start behind a motorized or non-motorized pacer.

Towards his Olympic goal, Nicholas is not afraid to share that his regime is training in the morning and then sleeping and training again in the afternoon. He recognizes that to improve his times he must work on his physical strengthening and conditioning. “The sport is getting very tactical internationally and preparation involves studying the competition.” His 2019 regime will include training in the USA as a means to enhance his performances.

On his recent attendance at the World Cycling Championships in Poland in February, young Nicholas pushed some of the best cy­clists in the world to fin­ish a cred­i­ble sev­enth in the Men's Sprint.  With the Pan American Games upcoming in Peru in August he believes he can challenge for a World Record in the 200 meter time trial. In sharing some of the challenges he faces as a cyclist he laments that cycling remains an extremely expensive sport and that financial support is at times difficult, especially in light of Elite Athlete funding being limited at the moment.

He however remains inspired to achieve and with the additional support of his family and well-wishers, he continues to feel encouraged and gives “thanks and praise” continuously for the opportunities that are being presented to him.

On a lighter note he does mention that as a football enthusiast he plays when he can for recreational purposes. He also recently did a motivational school visit to the Couva Anglican Primary School. But of utmost importance is that he wants people to know that he is hard working and that nothing is impossible with hard work. “One day I just want to be able to inspire others”.

By: Gavin Luke | FEATURES | April 2019

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