Barrette gets Pan Am gold for Canada in men’s sprint
Hugo Barrette has made it five gold medals in six races for Team Canada at the Milton Velodrome by winning the men’s sprint on Saturday night.
Barrette took on Trinidad and Tobago’s Njisane Phillip in the final, a best-of-three race competition featuring cat-and-mouse tactics before a full-out sprint to the finish line. Barrette won the opener, clocking 10.409 seconds on the final lap. He made it a clean sweep by beating Phillip in the second race, timed at 10.709 seconds.
“I took the front and I was confident I wanted to win in front of a home crowd and I couldn’t do it otherwise,” said Barrette. “It’s the best feeling of my life.”
Even the head coach of the sprint team, Erin Hartwell, was impressed with Canada’s first Pan Am Games gold in the men’s sprint since 1991.
“Man, that was just one of the greatest races I’ve seen in my life.”
It had been an eventful event for Barrette, beginning with Friday’s qualification round in which he was the fastest rider over 200m. Relegated in the 1/8 finals, he was forced to win a repechage to advance to the quarterfinals. It took all three races to decide that Barrette would be the one moving on to the semis.
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In his first semifinal race on Saturday afternoon, Barrette fell during the first half-lap. Luckily for him, the rules state that when that occurs, the race is re-started due to a “mishap”. After that re-start, Barrette won the first two races to book his spot in the final.
The women’s sprint team has been equally impressive at Toronto 2015, with gold medals in the team sprint by Monique Sullivan and Kate O’Brien and Sullivan again in the keirin. Both women have advanced to Sunday’s semifinals in the sprint, leading to more praise from Hartwell for all of his athletes.
“They work harder than any other team in the world I believe at this point,” said Hartwell. “So you put these ingredients together: great athletes, great resources, and the willingness to work together, and you’re going to get results and we’re seeing that happen.”
“We’re getting everything, we’re dominating on the track,” said Barrette. “And it’s just the start. We are all young riders and there’s some good years to come for sure.”