Trinidad and Tobago's Teniel Campbell. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
WALTER ALIBEY

Battling cramps among other issues, T&T cyclist Teniel Campbell couldf not capitalise on a relatively decent start she got at the Women’s Road Race at the Fuji International Speedway of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo Japan on Sunday.

The event was a gruelling 137 kilometres grind, which required something special from those who were chasing an opportunity for a spot on the medal podium. And this was exhibited at the start with Campbell, who was among the main peloton, at least for the first 50 kilometres or so of the race. But she fell out of the peloton while Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer went for the early breakaway, with Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands and Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini, both followed in close pursuit.

The T&T rider, in her Olympic debut event, could not have found a worst time to cramp up. She told her fans in an Instagram post afterwards about her ordeal: “I know you guys supported me today in the race and probably wondering what happened. Basically, on the final climb before we head into the circuit, I just exploded. I didn’t have the legs, I started catching cramps. I got dropped, I reconnected and then got dropped again and panicked. I should have paced it but instead panicking made me explode.”

The turn of events compounded a disastrous end for a multitalented 23-year-old cyclist, who is not only the first T&T female cyclist to earn a professional contract, but also to qualify for an Olympic Games. She was among 19 riders who did not finish from a field of 67 that started.

However, at the other end of the race, it was a display of true grit and determination as Kiesenhofer continued to punch the pedal despite the challenging terrain, to claim the gold medal after a time of three hours, 52 minutes and 45 seconds (3:52:45). She produced an average speed of 35.317km/h.

Van Vleuten (3:54:00) and Longo Borghini (3:54:14) held on for the silver and bronze medals respectively, while Lotte Kopecky of Belgium secured the fourth position in a time after riding for three hours, 54 minutes and 24 seconds.

However, a mad rush at the finish line enabled 11 riders to seal a time of 3:54.31- namely, Marianne Vos (Netherlands), Lisa Brennauer (Germany), Coryn Rivera (USA), Marta Cavalli (Italy), Olga Zabelinskaya (Uzbekistan), Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark), Elizabeth Deignan (Great Britain), Victo Canellas (Spain), Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Russia), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland) and Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands).

A disappointed Campbell promised to return to the training in preparation for the 2024 Olympics: ” I’m really disappointed, I wanted to do better. I expected more of myself so it’s really heart-wrenching for me, so I could only imagine for you guys. I hope I still made you guys proud in some way. I’m holding my head up high and looking forward to 2024. I’m going home, prepare again, get stronger, get better and I will be back.”

Later president of the T&T Cycling Federation Rowena Williams urged Campbell to not feel bad about her performance, saying: “We expected her to do her best and she did that. We are proud of her.”

SWIMMING:

Dylan Carter. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Meanwhile, swimmer Dylan Carter, the national record holder for the 100-metre backstroke event, failed to advance to the semifinal round of the competition after finishing fourth.

Carter contesting heat two of the event in lane three, touched the wall at 54.82 seconds while needing to be among the fastest 16 swimmers from the six heats to progress. The race was won by Poland’s Kacper Stokowski in a time of 53.99 seconds, with Portugal’s Rogerio Santos Francisco taking the runner-up spot in 54.35 seconds, while Jan Cejka of the Czech Republic sealed third after producing a time of 54.69 seconds.

The semifinal took place three hours later, while the final was scheduled to take place last night.

Meanwhile, Carter will attempt to rebound from his misfortunes in this event (100-metre backstroke) when he faces the starter’s gun in tomorrow’s (Tuesday) 100-metre freestyle.

ROWING

T&T’s rower Felice Chow came up short in her attempts to book a place in the semifinals of the Women’s Single Skulls event on Saturday night at the Sea Forest Waterway, finishing fifth.

After sealing a place in the event’s quarterfinals via the repechage on Friday, the 44-year-old faced another uphill task of having to finish among the top three in heat three of the quarterfinals to move on. She placed fifth in a time of 8:21.23.

The race was won by Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig in 7:58.20 with Sophie Souwer (7:59.92) of the Netherlands and Anneta Kyridou (8:02.19) of Greece securing the second and third positions respectively.

Chow’s finish means that the curtains have come down on her career in rowing.

BOXING

Aaron Prince.

Aaron Prince, the country’s lone boxer at the Olympics was expected to begin his campaign at 12 this morning, facing Slovakia’s Andrej Csemez in the Middleweight division at the Kokogikan Arena.

Prince who had some fortunes to seal his place in Tokyo is said to be hungry for success and eager to do his country proud, having gone through some much-needed fine-tuning at a recent Russian camp, where he got the opportunity to spar against top-quality opposition, Cecil Forde, the T&T Boxing Association president has said.

Today’s fight will be a round of 32-contest, which means a win will put him into the round of 16.

Forde believes with a good draw, his fighter will have a good chance of advancing to the quarterfinal or semifinal rounds. Csemez, a gold medal at the 2018 European Union Championship and a bronze medal at the European Games 2019, could be a tricky bout for the Trinbagonian who has been a multiple-time national champion, who has also won tons of medals at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games and the Pan American Games.

HOCKEY

Meanwhile, T&T’s top international umpire Ayanna McClean was in action when she took charge of a preliminary round match between China and host Japan. China won the match-up 3-2.