Paul targeting Paris from 2022

After a breakthrough season on the international circuit, top cyclist Nicholas Paul is remaining focused on the one major goal of his cycling career: an Olympic medal.

While the International Cycling Union (UCI) has not established the qualifying procedure for Paris 2024 to date, Paul will be preparing for 2022 as if it will be the beginning of the qualification period for that France-hosted Games.

For me 2022 would be a big year,” said the 23 year-old Paul. “The qualification process for cycling for Paris 2024 hasn’t come out as yet but based on previous years, I think the qualification process would be starting next year, so next year would be a big year for me in regards of qualifying for the Olympics.”

This current year has yielded some of the explosive cyclist’s best results on a world stage, including an historic silver medal in the one kilometre time-trial at the UCI TISSOT World Track Cycling Championships back in October. He also placed fourth in the men’s keirin there.

That medal performance was sandwiched by the three-gold medal harvest (kilometre time tiral, keirin and sprint) at the UCI Nations Cup leg in Colombia back in September and the silver sprint medal during the Lithuania-hosted second round of the inaugural UCI Champions League last month.

It all portends to greater things to come for the Gasparillo-born rider.

“My major goal is to medal at the Olympics, so one of my major goals firstly is to qualify for Paris 2024, and some of my short-term goals going into 2022 would be qualifying to ride at the Commonwealth Games and riding at the Nations Cup to be able to get points to be able to ride at the World Championships next year,” said the 2019 Pan American Games sprint champion.

The latest results build on his maiden Olympic appearance and experience at the Tokyo 2020 Games where he placed sixth in the sprint and 12th overall in the keirin.

Those outings have helped the sprinter distinguish between Caribbean and regional success and world-class racing.

“In my assessment, between the Pan American region and world level, I think the difference would be the amount of investment in coaching equipment and the science behind the sport, to make the athletes faster. Just to have a high level of training, I think that would be the biggest difference,” Paul reasoned.

He has enjoyed a higher level of preparation, first under his former coach, American Erin Hartwell, then when Hartwell left, under Scotland’s Craig Mac Lean at the World Cycling Centre in Switzerland.

As he has progressed over the last few years, this current year may have been the most crucial in his development into an elite, world-beating athlete.

“During this year I think one of the biggest lessons I have learned is to believe in yourself and to trust the process, trust your training programme, trust yourself and just keep working hard day-in and day-out,” Paul said, adding he will be taking a break for Christmas and reflecting on 2021 while starting to plan for 2022 and beyond.

Paul identified some areas where he will focus his efforts so he can more consistently compete with world champions like Dutchman Harrie Lavreysen, Jeffrey Hoogland and Germany’s Stefan Botticher.

“I can’t pinpoint one thing that I have to work on, because in cycling you have to be strong, have to be fast, have to be technically and tactically sound, so I think those four things are major on my agenda to work on going into 2022 as it is a big year for me as well,” he said.