Trinidad and Tobago's male cyclists returned home Saturday to an enthusiastic welcome after contributing to the country's largest cycling medal haul at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Colombia. The group included triple gold medallist Nicholas Paul, gold medallist Njisane Phillip and bronze medallists Kwesi Browne and Akil Campbell who excited spectators and the entire team with their outstanding performances on the track.
The welcome party included representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, the TT Cycling Federation and the newly installed Chairman of the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago Douglas Camacho who represented Minister Shamfa Cudjoe at the reception. Camacho, in his remarks, was full of praise for the athletes who train regularly at the SporTT-managed, National Cycling Velodrome, where the Sports Company also has its headquarters. The SporTT Chairman commended the Federation for its vision and foresight in recruiting Erin Hartwell to be the Technical Director for Cycling as his impact on the athletes was tremendous and brought results. Hartwell is employed with SporTT as a national coach and manager of the hemisphere's premiere track cycling venue in Couva.
According to Olympian Njisane Phillip, who won CAC gold in the Team Sprint, working with Erin over the past year has been instrumental to the team's success. "Having Erin here to work with us has been amazing...his knowledge and professionalism really improved our performances and has made us produce world-class times. Also having access to the Velodrome to do our training is a blessing to Trinidad and Tobago cycling on the whole and has made us much more focused on our goal of getting better and better with each competition."
Speaking from Colombia, the US-born coach said it was an honour to work with this team, adding that they "raced for the collective pride and honour of the country". While the athletes credited Hartwell for their achievements, he in turn saluted their "hyper-focused approach to high-performance and the pursuit of accomplishment at these games. Everyone came to perform and maximise their individual and collective results! It was truly a collective world-class performance!"
As preparations were being made for the men's arrival in Port of Spain, Hartwell was on the course cheering on Teneil Campbell to her fourth medal at the Games and first gold for a woman cyclist at CAC in the Road Race. Teneil has been a standout performer at her first CAC Games and is sure to be rapturously applauded on her return home in the coming week.