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Geronimo pays emotional tribute to Njisane
Fantastic performances by local cycling sensation Njisane Phillip at the 2012 Olympics in London have brought happiness to many in T&T, even bringing one former outstanding national cyclist to tears. The 21-year-old Phillip, from Siparia, narrowly missed out on a bronze medal in the men’s match sprint at the Olympic Velodrome when he came up against Australia’s Shane Perkins in the race for third place.
However, Phillip’s feat equalled the best showing by a T&T cyclist at the Games since Gene “Geronimo” Samuel finished fourth in the 1,000-metre sprint at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, USA.
Among the happy supporters on Monday was Samuel, who had to contain his emotions as he weighed in on Phillip’s performances. Speaking to the T&T Guardian by telephone after the event, Samuel said his eyes were glued to the television for each of Phillip’s rides. He said the way the young pedal pusher represented this country was inspiring.
With his voice cracking with emotion, Samuel said, “To see someone carry our national flag the way he has is simply tremendous and emotional. He made us so proud, something other riders have failed to do for the past 16 years.
“I think he was just tremendous and he looked very free and fast, better than he was in the heats. But you can only do your best and leave everything else in God’s hands. We are very proud of him. His focus and discipline were tremendous.”
Samuel said Phillip was able to surprise many other cyclists who were faster than him, thanks to the high level of competition he brought. He said although Phillip made some errors in the earlier rounds, he was able to rectify them before his brilliant attempt for the bronze medal. He said he is looking forward to seeing Phillip in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, where he expects him to shine and bring home the precious metal.
“It’s a long process just to qualify for the Olympics and his journey was fantastic. Most people realise it was difficult just to reach there and that he accomplished a lot. In 2016 he will be a lot faster. The top men of today can’t really go faster, but Njisane can go faster. I believe that younger riders should try to emulate his discipline and focus. He has shown them why he reached where he did.”
Desmond Robert of Perfection Services, one of Phillip’s sponsors for the Olympics, said he was proud of the way Phillip gave each rider the race of his life. He said Phillip possesses a killer instinct, which is vital for his progress in the sport: “I am satisfied with his performances and I knew he would have done well or brought home a medal. In all, I am very proud of him and I knew he gave it his best.”
However, Robert believes that if Phillip wants to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, he should take his training outside the country. He said there is a lack of quality sporting facilities in this country, and chastised business owners for not supporting sports.
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