Pietermaritzburg – Following some exciting riding on Friday the African Continental Track Cycling Championships concluded in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday with the hosts, South Africa, having dominated the podium. Maroesjka Matthee led the medal charge with an outstanding showing throughout.
Looking back on her domination of the Championships, Matthee said: "It went very well. Coming into the Champs, I felt very, very strong. On the first day, I felt I had good legs, so I was extremely positive for the whole Champs. The omnium was a highlight; I won all of the events in the omnium, which is something I really wanted to do, and I am happy to have done that."
For women, the omnium is made up of six events: the scratch race, the 3 000 metres individual pursuit, the elimination race, the 500 metres time trial, the flying lap and the 25 kilometre points' race.
"Any Champs, like these, boosts the track discipline," Matthee said, "so I think, especially with other African countries getting on the podium, it lifts it a lot, and I think the interest will be greater after these Champs."
South African men's star Nolan Hoffman teamed up with Morne van Niekerk to take victory in the Madison, raced over 40 kilometres. Although they were favoured to take the title, it was a tough outing, Hoffman admitted afterwards.
"It was a difficult race. We went into it a bit under-geared and we suffered a bit from that because we tried to take a lap on the field, but the gearing was too small and once we had the gap we were floating out there. We couldn't really make ground on the guys because the gear was too small."
Temperatures hovering in the mid-thirties added an extra challenge, Hoffman said. "The heat also played a huge role. It's difficult when your body temperature goes that high. It's just harder on the body and the effort required is so much more. Today it went from humid to dry heat, and that kills you.
"The Madison is a hard effort, and it is intense the whole time. There is no place for recovery."
Reflecting on the first African Continental Track Championships since 2001, he said: "It's the first of its kind. Other continents are doing it and hats off to Cycling South Africa for putting it on. The South African athletes always have a massively difficult task of qualifying for World Champs by going overseas to race. Now we have a Championship where it fast tracks the route to World Cups and Grand Prix."
Track cycling in South Africa, he added, is going through a growth spurt. "In places like Johannesburg and Cape Town, the numbers participating have grown dramatically and it makes me excited, as one of the senior athletes, to see that there is development and that people are doing it.
"I think track cycling is in a good space at the moment in terms of growth. For spectators, there is sprinting, endurance, tactics and it becomes a day event for the whole family. It ticks all the boxes. Hopefully, if we can get a big backer, like what Spur has done with schools and mountain biking, we can do great things. There is so much talent in South Africa."
Hoffman also lauded the efforts of Cycling South Africa to develop the track discipline. "I think there is a lot of hard work being done behind the scenes. You have to give the administrators credit, and I think one man I would like to mention, who I have worked with, is Mike Bradley [General Manager at Cycling South Africa]. He has done an awful lot for the sport."
He concluded by commending Africa's "Bike City", Pietermaritzburg, for the job it has done in growing cycling through the hosting of major events in road and track cycling, BMX and mountain biking.
"All the countries have cycling hubs, and cycling-friendly cities. I think what has helped cycling in Pietermaritzburg is that they have buy-in from the provincial government, and it makes it so much easier for them. Maritzburg ticks all the boxes. It has shown it can host world-class events, like the MTB World Championships. It is incredible what Pietermaritzburg as a city has done for the sport. Huge potential still remains.
"The cherry on the cake would be if they added a velodrome in Alexander Park. Look at the excellent BMX track, and the potential and the infrastructure for a velodrome is here."
On Friday South Africa's Mitchell Sparrow proved himself to be the fastest junior sprinter on Friday after he edged out his team-mate Wade Theunissen for the title, while hard work was rewarded when Jac-Johan Steyn claimed the elite men's omnium crown.
Sparrow had been the star junior of the event, but found himself on the back foot after Theunissen shocked him in heat one of the sprint finals.
"It was quite a surprise," Sparrow admitted, "because the previous races I had had in the bag. It was a shock. Wade gave a really good effort there and beat me on the line. It really made me realise that I had to put in the hard work.
"After a change of mind-set, it just worked out in the second heat. That was very close. In the last one, I gave it my all and it worked out in my favour."Sparrow, who also won the omnium, said it was "amazing, what I have always dreamed of" to pull on the national colours. Winning, he added, felt like he was doing the country justice.
He said South Africa's hosting of the Continental Track Championships was a great boost for the discipline. "Unfortunately, track is sometimes a little bit forgotten [compared to road cycling and mountain biking], but is definitely on the rise. People like Martin van Wyk and the Martin van Wyk (VWE)-Europcar Track Academy are doing such a great job, getting so many people into the sport. Last year, they doubled the amount of people at the Hector Norris velodrome.
"People like that are doing a brilliant job. That's what the sport needs."
Jac-Johan Steyn, a member of the VWE-Europcar Track Academy, showed there is good talent at the Johannesburg-based club when he claimed the omnium gold medal. Despite taking on a heavy programme, which he said had kept him waiting in the middle of the velodrome instead of resting with his team during the day, Steyn had enough strength left in his legs to take the win.
"It's hard, especially because I have not yet decided on the direction I want to go in, so I entered everything. I took it on as a training camp, and it has provided us with a good start to the year, and things can only get better from here," he said.
Steyn also lauded the efforts of Martin van Wyk and the success of the academy he has put together. "He got guys that weren't on teams or didn't make teams, and wanted to start a track team, as well as a road team. It has been amazing. He has accomplished so much already and there is still more to come.
"The South African Track Championships will be at our home velodrome, so we want to do well there," he shared.
More information can be found at http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-african-conti-track-champs
SUMMARY OF RESULTS - CONFEDERATION OF AFRICAN CYCLING CONTINENTAL TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS
AFTERNOON SESSION - 23 JANUARY 2015
Junior Men Sprint Semi-finals
Mitchell Sparrow (RSA) 13.31 def. Joshua van Wyk (Gauteng)
Mitchell Sparrow (RSA) 12.96 def. Joshua van Wyk (Gauteng)
Wade Theunissen (RSA) 12.59 def. Alroy Palm (WP)
Wade Theunissen (RSA) 12.34 def. Alroy Palm (WP)
Junior Men Sprint Finals Bronze ride
Alroy Palm (WP) 12.55 def. Joshua van Wyk (Gauteng)
Alroy Palm (WP) 12.55 def. Joshua van Wyk (Gauteng)
Junior Men Sprint Finals Gold and Silver ride
Wade Theunissen (RSA) 12.07 def. Mitchell Sparrow (RSA)
Mitchell Sparrow (RSA) 12.02 def. Wade Theunissen (RSA)
Mitchell Sparrow (RSA) 12.27 def. Wade Theunissen (RSA)
Elite Men Sprint semi-finals
Jean Smith (RSA) 11.64 def. Jean Spies (Gauteng)
Jean Smith (RSA) 12.06 def. Jean Spies (Gauteng)
Kyle-Lee Borchjes (RSA) 11.91 def. Eugene Soule (WP)
Eugene Soule (WP) 11.45 def. Kyle-Lee Borchjes (RSA)
Eugene Soule (WP) 11.46 def. Kyle-Lee Borchjes (RSA)
Elite Men Sprint Finals Bronze ride
Kyle-Lee Borchjes (RSA) 11.70 def. Jean Spies (Gauteng)
Kyle-Lee Borchjes (RSA) 11.66 def. Jean Spies (Gauteng)
Elite Men Sprint Finals Gold and Silver ride
Jean Smith (RSA) 11.17 def. Eugene Soule (WP)
Jean Smith (RSA) 12.16 def. Eugene Soule (WP)
Elite Women Omnium Individual Pursuit 3 000m
1.Maroesjka Matthee (RSA) 4:09.09
2.Elfriede Wolfaardt (WP) 4:17.22
3.Nour Dissam (TUN) 4:29.34
4.Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed Mohamed (EGY) 4:35.29
5.Danielle Norman (Gauteng) 4:38.57
Junior Men Team Pursuit Final
1.RSA (Waylin Young, Nafees Isaacs, Dylan le Roux, Sheldon Lahner) 4:55.92
2.WP (Kyle de Wet, Alroy Palm, Zubair Williams, Louis Visser) 5:11.94
Elite Men Omnium Flying Lap
1.Joshua Buchel (Gauteng) 28.42
2.Oupa Maluleke (RSA) 29.00
3.Charles Peter Mathewson (NC) 29.84
4.Jac-Johan Steyn (VWE-Europcar Track Academy) 30.08
5.Kyle Walker (KZN) 31.99
Elite Women Omnium Elimination
1.Maroesjka Matthee (RSA)
2.Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed Mohamed (EGY)
3.Nour Dissem (TUN)
4.Elfriede Wolfaardt (WP)
5.Danielle Norman (Gauteng)
Elite Men Omnium Points
1.Jac-Johan Steyn (VWE-Europcar Track Academy) 77
2.Joshua Buchel (Gauteng) 20
3.Oupa Maluleke (RSA) 18
4.Charles Peter Mathewson (NC) 13
5.Kyle Walker (KZN) 0
MORNING AND AFTERNOON SESSION - 24 JANUARY 2015
Elite Women Sprint 200m heats
1.Annerine Wenhold (RSA) 12.97
2.Myrtle Hagedorn (WP) 13.17
3.Odette van Deventer (RSA) 13.59
4.Lorna Carlstein (KZN) 14.03
5.Nour Dissem (TUN) 14.37
6.Bronwyn Abrahams (WP) 14.56
7.Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed Mohamed (EGY)
8.Sonya Kritzinger (KZN) 15.00
9.Aicha Tihar (ALG) 15.34
Junior Men Keirin (3 to qualify)
1.Alroy Palm (WP) 12.21
2.Mitchell Sparrow (RSA)
3.Damean Oosthuizen (FS)
4.Joshua van Wyk (Gauteng)
1.Luc Green (Gauteng) 13.44
2.Wade Theunissen (RSA)
3.Zubair Williams (WP)
4.Oussama Mansouri (ALG)
Elite Men Keirin (3 to qualify, rest 7 to 12)
1.Eugene Soule (WP) 12.87
2.Matt Roe (Gauteng)
3.Christopher Mlotshwa (KZN)
1.Jean Smith (RSA) 12.21
2.Matthew de Freitas (RSA)
3.Douglas Abott (VWE-Europcar Cycling Academy)
Elite Women Sprint Quarterfinals
Annerine Wenhold (RSA) 14.87 def. Sonya Kritzinger (KZN)
Annerine Wenhold (RSA) 16.59 def. Sonya Kritzinger (KZN)
Myrtle Hagedorn (WP) 14.60 def. Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed Mohamed (EGY)
Myrtle Hagedorn (WP) 14.26 def. Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed Mohamed (EGY)
Odette van Deventer (RSA) 15.31 def. Bronwyn Abrahams (WP)
Odette van Deventer (RSA) 15.25 def. Bronwyn Abrahams (WP)
Lorna Carlstein (KZN) 13.96 def. Nour Dissem (TUN)
Lorna Carlstein (KZN) 14.89 def. Nour Dissem (TUN)
Elite Women Sprint Semi-finals
Annerine Wenhold (RSA) 14.93 def. Lorna Carlstein (KZN)
Annerine Wenhold (RSA) 13.94 def. Lorna Carlstein (KZN)
Myrtle Hagedorn (WP) 13.40 def. Odette van Deventer (RSA)
Myrtle Hagedorn (WP) 15.37 def. Odette van Deventer (RSA)
Elite Women Sprint 5th-8th Place
1.Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed Mohamed (EGY) 14.81
2.Bronwyn Abrahams (WP)
3.Nour Dissem (TUN)
4.Sonya Kritzinger (KZN)
Madison Elite and Junior Men 40km
1.Morne van Niekerk, Nolan Hoffman (RSA) 23 points, 0 laps
2.Jac-Johan Steyn, Steven van Heerden (VWE-Europcar Cycling Academy) 14 points, 0 laps
3.Jean Spies, Joshua Buchel (Gauteng) 11 points, 2 laps
Elite Women Sprint Final Bronze Ride
Odette van Deventer (RSA) 14.07 def. Lorna Carlstein (KZN)
Odette van Deventer (RSA) 14.76 def. Lorna Carlstein (KZN)
Elite Women Sprint Final Gold and Silver Ride
Annerine Wenhold (RSA) 14.09 def. Myrtle Hagedorn (WP)
Annerine Wenhold (RSA) 14.43 def. Myrtle Hagedorn (WP)
Elite Men Keirin 7th - 12th Place
7.Darren Goddard (KZN) 12.45
8.Heinrich Stroebel (FS)
9.Ali Nouisri (TUN)
10.Bamba Karamoko (CIV)
11.Mohamed Almokhtar Elkamaa (LBA)
12.Daniel Stroebel (FS)
Elite Men Keirin Final
1.Jean Smith (RSA) 11.28
2.Eugene Soule (WP)
3.Christopher Mlotshwa (KZN)
4.Matthew de Freitas (RSA)
5.Matt Roe (Gauteng)
6.Douglas Abott (VWE-Europcar Cycling Academy)
Elite Women Omnium Points 10km
1.Maroesjka Matthee (RSA) 21
2.Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed Mohamed (EGY) 17
3.Nour Dissem (TUN) 7
4.Elfriede Wolfaardt (WP) 6
5.Danielle Norman (Gauteng) 4
Junior Women Points 10km
1.Jessica Gerber (RSA) 18
2.Shannique Loggenberg (RSA) 12
3.Kayla Edwards (RSA) 10
Elite Women Points 20km
1.Maroeskja Matthee (RSA) 44
2.Debbie Loffell-Dawson (RSA) 29
3.Ilze Bole (RSA) 22
4.Jackie Church (KZN) 6
5.Danielle Norman (Gauteng) 6
6.Elriede Wolfaardt (WP) -20
7.Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed Mohamed (EGY) -38
Junior Men Points 16km
1.Waylin Young (RSA) 31
2.Louis Visser (WP) 27
3.Sheldon Lahner (RSA) 16
4.Oussama Mansouri (ALG) 8
5.Dylan le Roux (RSA) 7
6.Zubair Williams (WP) 1
7.Joshua van Wyk (Gauteng) -14
8.Michael Pretorius (FS) -14
Elite Men Points 30km
1.Nolan Hoffman (RSA) 50
2.Joshua Buchel (Gauteng) 26
3.Jac-Johan Steyn (VWE-Europcar Cycling Academy) 20
4.Jean Spies (Gauteng) 6
5.Morne van Niekerk (RSA) -9
6.Dirkie Nel (Gauteng) -12
7.Charles Peter Mathewson (NC) -15
8.Oupa Maluleke (RSA) -29