The celebration has already began in Siparia, Trinidad where cyclist Njisane Phillip lives with his mom, stepdad Phillip Whiteman and other family members.
The occasion is that Phillip is almost certain of a qualifying spot in the sprint at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At his second UCI World Cup in Japan at the weekend, Phillip sped to the number one spot in the Americas zone which means that he is almost certain of an Olympic berth with just one more World Cup to go and a World Championship tournament.
Phillip who failed to make an impression at the first UCI World Cup in Cali Colombia in October, started with 208 points and needed to accumulate as many points over the next three events which basically required him to finish at least among the top 10 in each event. But the mathematics worked in his favour and although he was booted out soon before the semi final round, the T&T cyclist had the opportunity to finish between the 5th to 8th spot and he completed the day’s activities in sixth position.
With his finish, it meant he earned himself the ninth spot in the sprints in the World Cups. His stepfather said it would take a miraculous task by any other rider and an extremely poor performance by Njisane for him to not qualify for the Olympics. “I am really very pleased with his performance at the weekend,” Whiteman said.
Phillip who went into competition ranked 26th in the sprints, had to contend with a number of top riders such as fifth ranked Denis Dmitriev of Russia, 10th-ranked Nikita Shurshin (Russia), 11th-ranked Pavel Kelemen (Czech Republic), 19-ranked Juan Peralta Gascon (Spain), Chao Xu (China), Jair Tjon En Fa (Suriname), Adam Ptacnik (Czech Republic), Seiichiro Nakagawa (Japan), Hugo Barrette (Canada), Joseph Veloce (Canada), Azizulhasni Awang (Malaysia) and Matthew Baranoski of the United States.
According to the maximum allocation given, Europe has five cyclists qualifying for the Olympics while Oceania has one, Americas which also include the Caribbean has two, Asia two and Africa just one. Whiteman said apart from the limited amount of help he received from the Ministry of Sports and Sport Company, his stepson was still able to do well.
Whiteman said he has already arranged for Phillip to be flown straight to Colombia where a coach, a track and accomodation have been organised for him ahead of the world cup in January. Whiteman said the coach is a Colombian who has worked with Phillip since he was a junior. According to Whiteman: “It is disappointing that Njisane has to be borrowing from people all the time when he has to prepare for events.”