Phillip pedals to 7th in Keirin
By JONATHAN RAMNANANSINGH Wednesday, August 8 2012
The fastest male sprint cyclist in the western hemisphere, Njisane Phillip continued to win hearts at the Olympic Velodrome in London, England, yesterday when he concluded his campaign with a creditable seventh in the Men’s Keirin event.
Phillip pedalled to victory in 10.818 seconds in the 7-12th place ride-off. The 21-year-old was forced to contest this race after just missing out on a finalist spot in the previous stage. In his final ride, the fourth fastest sprinter in the world overpowered five seasoned international Keirin contenders - Mickael Bourgain (France), Christos Volikakis (Greece), Juan Peralta Gascon (Spain), Kazunari Watanabe (Japan) and Hersony Canelon (Venezuela), who all finished eighth to 12th respectively.
Former Olympic Sprint champion, Chris Hoy of Great Britain was unstoppable, and powered to gold in a blistering 10.1 seconds in the first to sixth ride-off. Hoy rode impeccably and forced German Maximilian Levy into silver medal spot while New Zealander Simon Van Velthooven and Dutch rider Teun Mulder tied for the bronze.
During Heat one of the first round, Phillip could only manage a fourth place finish. In the Keirin, only the top three finishers of each heat automatically advance to the next round of competition. Phillip was then forced to ride in the repechage heat which provides a second chance for non-qualifiers in the initial heat. The Siparia rider then recorded another fourth place finish in the repechage and thus did not meet the required criteria for the second round but faith intervened as third place finisher Miao Zhang (People’s Republic of China) was relegated for an illegal move. This automatically and luckily propelled the next finisher (Phillip) into the second round. Here, Phillip faced the likes of eventual Keirin winner Hoy, Awang, Mulder, Gascon and Volikakis in Heat One but once again the local rider crossed the finish line in fourth place, missing out on progression to the final. After his seventh place ride, the British commentators praised Phillip for his consistency on the track.
One of the announcers highlighted the local’s achievements and openly stated that the audience at the London Velodrome “adopted him”.
The commentator added, “He’s only 21, and he beat some very heavy- hitters here. Enough to look forward to for the future of the Trinidad and Tobago rider. He will be better off I’m sure in four years time (at the Brazil olympics).”
Before his opening round fixture this morning, Phillip tweeted, “God is good, was totally out of it this morning but my legs are back thanks to Mr Sharpe! Gonna leave it all out there.”
Meanwhile, former cycling Olympian, Gene Samuel expressed satisfaction with Phillip’s performance and lauded the local athlete for another top 10 performance.
“For any athlete to make it to the top eight in any event at the Olympics is a major achievement. Njisane has achieved so much for this country at the Games. We are such a small country and look how much countries we overcame in both events (Sprint and Keirin). Hats off to him, he has done us proud,” explained Samuel.
President of the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation, Rowena Williams shared similar sentiments on the local rider’s seventh place performance. While she knew Phillip was not in top form due to his two-day sprint performance, she heaped praises on Phillip for another highly commendable result.
“Njisane delivered another great and memorable performance. He may have been a bit tired seeing that he contested his sprint events the day before (Monday). Some of the other contesting athletes had a competitive advantage over him since this (Keirin) was their first event of the Olympics.
So there were some fresher legs on the track. But, he brushed off these circumstances and went on to make Trinidad and Tobago and the local cycling fraternity proud. Let me take this opportunity to publicly congratulate Njisane,” she declared.