Trinidad and Tobago's Njisane Phillip made a major breakthrough at the Velodrome, here in London, England, yesterday, beating Russia's Denis Dmitriev in two straight rides to reach the Olympic Games men's sprint semi-final.
The 21-year-old cyclist produced two superb rides, much to the delight of President George Maxwell Richards, who sat in the stands with his wife, Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards, and T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Larry Romany.
In the first ride in their quarter-final showdown, Dmitriev came up over the top and closed on Phillip. The T&T wheelman, however, held off his Russian opponent.
And in the second ride, Phillip was again victorious, Romany leaping from his seat as the reigning Pan American champion wrote his name into the history books. Phillip is now the most successful T&T cyclist in Olympic history in the sprint event. Maxwell Cheeseman, eighth at the Seoul Games in 1988, previously held that distinction.
At 11 o'clock this morning (T&T time), Phillip will do battle with Great Britain's Jason Kenny in the semis. The second ride is scheduled for 11.35, while the third, if necessary, will be contested at 11.57.
"Kenny definitely has a lot of speed," Phillip told the Express. "Tactically, I don't really think he's all that hot. He's just got the gas. It will be interesting to see how I can match up with him."
The sprint finals will be contested from 12.43 p.m.
Like Phillip, the Gordons—Jehue and Lalonde—will be in the hunt for precious metal today.
At 3.45 p.m., at the Olympic Stadium, Jehue will run in the men's 400m hurdles final. And at 4.30, Lalonde faces the starter in the men's 400m championship race.
Lalonde produced a shocker in the semi-final round, yesterday, winning heat one in a personal best 44.58 seconds to progress to the final as the fastest qualifier. Grenada's reigning world champion Kirani James won heat two in 44.59, while the winner of heat three was Dominican Republic's world junior champion Luguelin Santos (44.78).
"I didn't see that time coming," Lalonde told the Express. "I'm really shocked. I just went out there, ran the first 70 hard like the coach told me to do, finished strong, and I came out with a surprising 44.58 personal best.
"Since the outdoor season started," he continued, "I kept seeing myself in the final. My dream actually came true."
T&T's Janeil Bellille was eliminated in the opening round of the women's 400m hurdles. She faded on the home straight to finish seventh in heat four in 57.27 seconds.
"I probably went out too hard, and it kind of threw off my race strategy. I am disappointed, because I know I'm way better than that. I should have been able to make it to the semis.
At 2.28 this afternoon, Semoy Hackett will run in heat two, in the opening round of the women's 200m. And at 2.44, her T&T teammate, Kai Selvon, competes in heat four.
The women's shot put qualifying event, featuring T&T's Cleopatra Borel, starts at 5.45 a.m. The final is scheduled for 2.15 p.m.
Roger Daniel closed off his third Olympic campaign with a 35th-place finish in the men's 50m pistol event, at the Royal Artillery Barracks, yesterday. The T&T shooter earned 539 points.
South Korea's Jin Jong-oh completed an impressive pistol double, adding 50m gold to the 10m air pistol title he had earned, two Saturdays ago. Daniel was 36th in the 10m event with 568 points.
Yesterday, Jing-oh scored 662–562 in qualifying and 100 in the final–to repeat as Olympic 50m champion, forcing his teammate Choi Young Rae (661.5) to settle for silver. China's Wang Zhiwei (658.6) picked up bronze.
For Daniel, falling 26 points short of his 50m personal best (565) was disappointing. He, however, had a positive outlook, setting his sights on the 2016 Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"What I realise," he told the Express, "is I need to do a lot more work. I'm thinking of way beyond Rio, and everything else before Rio, but I'm taking it one step at a time. Right now, I need to go back and put in the work that I'm supposed to.
"If you're going to work at something," Daniel continued, "you need to try it out, test it out, consistently, and over and over. So, I'm targetting the World Championships and the World Cups next year. It's all for Rio 2016."
By Kwame Laurence in London