“Impossible is Nothing” is Nicholas Paul’s mantra and on Saturday he turned his words into deeds by winning Trinidad and Tobago’s first Commonwealth Games cycling gold since 1966.
Now his eyes are fixed on taking that a step further and making cycling history for the Caribbean islands at the Olympics.
The 23-year-old triumphed in the men’s keirin at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London in front of many people who will want to see England end a similarly lengthy hiatus and win the World Cup later this year.
Scotland’s Jack Carlin took silver and Malaysia’s Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom won the bronze.
Paul had at one point thought of following in the footsteps of his celebrated compatriot, former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke.
Instead, due to an ankle injury, he has ended up emulating Roger Gibbon, who won the 1,000m match sprint and the 1km time trial at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica.
“It’s growing and it’s one of my big dreams to be able to set a trend and make Trinidad and Tobago know that track cycling is an actual sport,” he said.
“One of my mantras is ‘Impossible is Nothing’ – the slogan of sportswear brand Adidas – and I want the kids that are younger than me to see that the sky is the limit.
“I want to work hard, because I’m not that old. I’m only 23, so for me to achieve these things, I’m setting the path high for them and letting them know that it’s possible if they try hard and work hard.”
Times have changed since Paul switched to cycling and trained in a grass velodrome.
“We’ve got a brand new world-class velodrome, so it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
“For us, as a developing country in track cycling, it was a great investment.
“And to be able to have that and to train at home and have indoor races is great. It has been a vital part of my career.”
Paul, competing in his second Commonwealth Games, said his friends had raised their eyebrows when he told them he had taken up cycling.
“In the beginning they were like, ‘What, you are a cyclist?’ Now I am one of the best at cycling in the world and they are just surprised at how things have changed,” he said.
Paul is steadily setting new benchmarks sparked by his 2019 world record in the men’s flying 200m time trial and he sees no reason why he cannot break the glass ceiling at the Olympics.
“I think that the world record was what started it all and gave me my goals,” he said.
“My main goal is to be able to win a medal at the Olympic Games for Trinidad and Tobago.” — AFP
Proud winner: Trinidad and Tobago’s Nicholas Paul celebrates after winning the cycling keirin gold medal at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London. — Reuters