Trinidad and Tobago cyclist Kwesi Browne's ninth place finish in the keirin at the Olympics on Saturday is being hailed by his family who have seen the sacrifices he has made to reach Tokyo.
Browne and Nicholas Paul competed in the keirin and found themselves in similar problems in their respective semifinals at the Izu Velodrome, Japan. Both riders were boxed in during the final lap, unable to manoeuvre for a top three spot that would automatically qualify them for the final.
Browne placed fifth in semifinal one.
Paul crossed fourth in semifinal two, but was disqualified.
Browne, 27, later finished third in the seven to 11 placing race. Paul was automatically placed 12th owing to his disqualification for an illegal move.
Earlier in the men’s sprint, Paul ended sixth overall and Browne was 30th and last after the qualifying (first) round.
In an interview with Newsday on Sunday, Browne's brother Joel said his family is proud of his accomplishment.
It was a tough road to Tokyo for Browne who has had to battle tremendous obstacles.
Browne, who was born and grew up in Arima, was the fifth person in TT to contract covid19 in March 2020.
His brother said, “At the end of the day, people will only see the race itself. They would not see the challenges, they won’t see the determination,”
Although Browne was asymptomatic throughout the ordeal, he stayed in hospital for almost a month as he continued to test positive.
Joel said his brother has been among the top keirin riders in the world for a long time and this was testament to his tremendous work ethic.
“I remember him getting up (one) Christmas morning to go and train bright and early before 6 am…
"Yes, he has faced a lot of challenges, but I know he had the mental fortitude and the mental capacity to go out there and give his best. We are all very proud of him as a family. We actually told him that at the end of the day, just being at the Olympics is a great achievement because there are a lot of athletes that cannot say that they have made it on this stage.”
Discussing his sibling's performance in the keirin, Joel said, “The keirin is not just about raw speed. It is a very tactical race…and how dangerous the sport is you can’t just force your way out of certain spots.
“Coming into it, I honestly felt that him and Nicholas would have been into the finals based on their performance coming through…the same fate fell for both of them where they were both boxed in, and you know once you boxed in there is nothing you can really do.
"At the end of the day I will say it is a learning experience for him.”
There was a moment in the 7-11 final where Browne, at full speed, made contact with another cyclist, but the TT rider, after a dangerous wobble, was able to stay on the bike.
Asked what were his thoughts in that split second seeing a potential crash, Joel said it was all part of the sport.
“Seeing him coming up from small, battered and bruised so many times...
"I have been told from my uncle, I think it was one of the Junior Pan Am Games where they intentionally threw him down and he actually cracked his helmet.”
Joel said his brother’s bike-handling skills helped him avoid calamity.
He said he was also disappointed to see Paul – the flying 200m world record holder – being relegated in the sprint event.
He believes Paul did not get a fair shake from the Tokyo officials.- (with reporting by Stephon Nicholas)