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YEESSS': T&T cyclist Dannel James, left, acknowledges the crowd after winning his second ride in the qualifying phase for the men's sprint event, against India's Jitendra Vedant Jadhav, at the National Cycling Velodrome, Couva, on Tuesday. James went on to cop the bronze medal, yesterday. --Photo: DEXTER PHILIPÊÊ


Go Back : Express : Kwame Laurence : 09.08.2023

Nikoli Blackman completed his Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) campaign with a perfect record, the Trinidad and Tobago swim star adding men's 50 metres freestyle gold to his collection at the National Aquatics Centre, late yesterday.

There was double delight for the home crowd, Zarek Wilson touching the wall third for a complete set at CYG2023 - gold, silver, bronze.

Blackman clocked 22.36 seconds for the win, while Wilson bagged the bronze in a personal best 22.95. The silver went to Bahamian Marvin Johnson in 22.54. Blackman's clocking is a new national 15-17 record.

The crowd, including flag-bearing Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe, went wild with the 1-3 TTO finish. There was more celebration during the medal ceremony, the national anthem and the sight of two "Red, White and Black" flags behind Blackman and Wilson prompting a deafening "Let's Go TTO" chant.

Blackman was unbeaten at the Games, grabbing 50 free, 100 free and 200 free gold. After his 50 free triumph, Blackman told the Express that CYG2023 was the perfect meet.

"I'll say so. Dropped time in every race; three gold medals. I never swam against some of them before so I didn't know what to expect, but we pushed through."

Wilson was thrilled with his performance.

"I wasn't sure I was going to medal. We pushed through and I'm happy I got gold, silver and bronze."

In the morning session, Blackman clocked 22.81 seconds to lead all qualifiers into the 50 free final. Wilson was fourth fastest at 23.07.

At the National Cycling Centre, also in Couva, Syndel Samaroo and Dannel James earned silver and bronze, respectively, in the men's sprint.

The TTO cyclists squared off in the semifinal round, Samaroo emerging victorious in two straight rides. In the other semi, Australian Tayte Ryan got past Malaysia's Darwish Sanusi.

Ryan went on to grab gold, battling past a game Samaroo in two rides.

"The experience was great," said Samaroo. "I was a bit scared, but I tried my best and I executed. We're looking for more medals and more wins and representing our country well."

In the showdown for bronze, James lost the first ride against Sanusi, but bounced back to win the next two. The bronze medallist celebrated passionately, raising his arms in triumph as he soaked in the cheers from the partisan crowd.

"I love the vibes they bring," said James, "so I love to give back that same energy."

Cycling action starts at 11 this morning with the women's keirin. Makaira Wallace and Alexia Wilson will represent TTO. Wallace and Wilson also ride in the 500 metres time trial.

Titus Bharat and Jadian Nieves are listed for the men's points race. James and Raul Garcia will compete in the men's kilo. Aaron Matas and Dave Cooper ride in the men's scratch race. And Samaroo and Garcia will fly the TTO flag in the men's keirin.

At the Hasely Crawford Stadium, in Port of Spain, Jaidi James cleared the bar at 2.00 metres to claim silver for TTO. England's Ethan Glyde won with a 2.06 jump. Sri Lanka's Thenuja Rathnaweera secured bronze with a 2.00 clearance. TTO's Kaleb Campbell was tenth at 1.90.

TTO's Keneisha Shelbourne returned a time of one minute, 04.28 seconds for fifth spot in the women's 400m hurdles. Cheyne West was sixth in the men's 110m hurdles in 13.82 seconds. West clocked 54.87 for seventh spot in the 400 hurdles.

Sole Frederick will bid for women's 200m precious metal today. She clocked 23.72 seconds in the semis. Long jump silver medallist Janae De Gannes was ninth overall in 24.46, just missing out on a berth in the championship race. Frederick clocked 24.08 in the opening round, while De Gannes got home in 24.79.

Keeran Sriskandarajah clocked 1:53.85 to advance to today's men's 800m final on time.

Going into the final day of CYG2023 competition, TTO is in fifth spot on the medal table with four gold medals, four silver and three bronze.