Danell James pedals to match sprint semis at Commonwealth Youth Games

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Malaysia’s Ann Tung Yong beats Trinidad and Tobago’s Alexia Wilson in the women’s quarterfinals at the Commonwealth Youth Games 2023 at the National Cycling Velodrome in Couva – Photo by Lincoln Holder

LOOKING at videos of the two fastest men on wheels, including TT’s Nicholas Paul, helped cyclist Danell James prepare for the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games. James sealed a spot in the semi-finals of the men’s match sprint with an impressive display in the qualifying and quarter-final round at the National Cycling Centre in Couva on Tuesday afternoon.

James, along with fellow TT cyclist Syndel Samaroo, qualified for the semi-finals. World record holder Paul and Harrie Lavreysen of The Netherlands won silver and gold respectively in the sprint event at the 2023 International Cycling Union World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland on Monday. James emulates the pair.

Asked if he was pleased with his tactics during the races, James said, “I have been looking at some videos (of) Nicholas Paul – of course (he is my hero) – and Harrie Lavreysen.”

James also used the home crowd to motivate him.

“I feel very proud that I represented TT. I have a lot of family members looking down at me and supporting me fully. Every time I race here I feel proud, I feel that adrenaline.”

James said when he finds out who his opponent will be in the semi-final he will know what strategy to implement.

“Until I know who I am riding (against) I will have to improve on certain stuff. When to jump, how to ride and stuff like that.”

In the qualifying round, Samaroo was the second fastest, with a time of 10.706 seconds, and James was third in 10.794. Australian Tayte Ryan qualified as the top rider, stopping the clock in 10.670. All the cyclists booked a place in the quarter-finals, as only six cyclists started the event.

Samaroo and Ryan earned quarter-final byes and advanced straight to the semi-finals.In heat three of the quarter-finals, James defeated Indian rider Jitendra Vedant Jadhav in two straight rides in the best of three event.

In the opening race, Jadhav positioned himself in front, but with just over a lap remaining, James made his move and won comfortably by a few lengths.

James then aimed to advance with another victory. On this occasion, James was in front with one lap left. Jadhav kept the race close, but James held on to win. TT had two representatives in the women’s sprint event. Makaira Wallace finished with the fifth best time of 12.115 in the qualification round and Alexia Wilson was seventh in 13.089.

Many friends and family members of the TT cyclists sat near the finish line making their voices heard.

In quarter-final two, Wilson lost in two consecutive rides to Ann Yong of Malaysia, and there was a similar result for Wallace in quarter-final four. Australian Liliya Tatarinoff was too strong for Wallace, as she qualified for the semi-finals with two straight wins.

The TT pair of Jadian Neaves and Titus Bharat competed in the men’s 3,000m individual pursuit. In the ten-man field, Neaves was ninth in three minutes, 53.426 seconds (3:53.426) and Bharat was tenth in 4:07.115. The TT cyclists did not progress to the medal rounds.

In the only final on Tuesday, Australian Lauren Bates won her second gold medal of the games when she won the women’s points race, ending with 27 points. Bates won the first medal of the games on Saturday when she copped gold in the women’s time trial. Time trial silver medallist Keira Will, also of Australia, took second spot with 19 points, and Scottish rider Millie Thomson finished third with 17 points.

Cycling resumes on Wednesday with the men’s and women’s sprint semi-finals at 1 pm and 1.06 pm respectively. The men’s final and bronze medal rides will start at 1.47 pm and the women’s medal rides at 1.53 pm.

The men’s individual pursuit continues with the medal round and the women’s scratch race final will also be held.