The 2015 leg of the Development Race Day Series continued with five KwaZulu-Natal districts visited in a space of two weeks during the month of February. This resulted in approximately 600 learners getting the opportunity to ride a bicycle, some of them for the very first time, in a space of two weeks.
KwaZulu-Natal Cycling Development Officer, Tyrone Johns, and his team visited the uMzinyathi District in Dundee; Ulundi Public Primary School in Zululand District; Mkuze Primary in the uMkhanyakude District; Exhaphozini Primary School in Richards Bay’s uThungulu district and the Ezinewadini Senior Primary School in Newcastle’s Amajuba District.
On Wednesday 19 February, the team headed off to Dundee where there was an overwhelming response to the Development Race Day cycling series. Two hundred children wanted to ride on the cycle track, which was laid out on the school’s football field, but unfortunately only 100 learners could be accommodated.
The standout rider was a young girl by the name of Nabeela Adams who at 10-years-old showed immense talent and will definitely make an impression at the final event in April.
Friday 20 February, the team visited Ulundi Public Primary School. “This school downright has to be the biggest and craziest event I have been to this year so far,” said Johns. “The kids were so enthusiastic and so loud it was like being at a Super 15 Rugby Match! They had never before had the opportunity to take part in such an event and the whole school stayed behind to cheer on their friends and see who was going to be crowned the champion.”
Again, Johns accommodated 100 learners on the bicycles throughout the course of the afternoon, with close to 700 cheering supporters making themselves heard on the side lines. The top three honours went to Siyabonga Nxumalo in first place, Njabulo Dlamini second and Thokozani Mthembu third.
Next in the Series was Mkuze Primary in the uMkhanyakude District on 24 February. The learners were so excited that the assistant Principal, Mrs Vermaak, said she could hear them chatting in excitement as the team arrived and started to set up.
Being a smaller school, all the learners could get a chance to ride and show Johns and the rest of the school what they had to offer. After all had had a chance to participate it was time to get down to some racing. Two classes were held for 11-12 year olds, and 13-14 year olds. In the 11-12 year age group, the podium was Siyakhula Buthelezi (1st), Khethelo Mathenjwa (2nd) and Scelo Mngomezulu (3rd). In the 13-14 age group the racing was so close and thanks to Phakamane’s eagle eye he caught the positions on the line, as it was a very close call. The podium went to Mnotho Xulu (1st), Kwazi Gumbi (2nd) and Kwandile Myeni (3rd).
The penultimate event took place at Exhaphozini Primary School in the uThungulu district near Richards Bay on 25 February. The sports facilitator, Mr Scelo Hlongwane, was on site to assist in getting the 100 learners in line to run a successful event.
“There is nothing more rewarding than watching the kids ride and race and to see the joy on their faces,” said Johns. “In Richards Bay the kids were no different - they loved it and we started to see some real talent emerge. We decided for the day that we would run one main event for males and females.”
In the female class it was Wandile Khumalo (13) in first place, Khulani Mnguni (13) in second and Sanele Elias (12) third. The hotly contested male final was a race for bragging rights and top school honours. The winner was Siyabonga Khoza (14), second was Bongumenzi Xulu (15) and third was Luyanda Mlambo (12).
To complete the final district, Johns and his team visited Ezinewadini Senior Primary School in Newcastle, in the Amajuba District on 26 February. The excitement from the learners could hardly be contained as they rushed out to greet the crew and watched while everything was set up. Approximately 80 learners were eager to get going, and there were eight stand out riders on the day.
In the final it was Masina Asanda (13) who came first, Banele Xulu (13) claimed the second place and rounding out the podium was Sbusiso Mdaweni. The entire school stood around the track shouting and screaming for their favourite and it turned into a real festival atmosphere.
The top ten competitors from each district school will now compete head-to-head in the Grand Finale, which forms part of the cycling festivities at the Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival on Friday 3 April. Once again Johns – with the support of KZN Sports and Recreation, KZN Cycling, Cycling SA and Giba Gorge MTB Park – will supply bicycles for the BMX-style format of racing on 3 April, with 100 cyclists expected to compete. Transport costs for the finalists from their respective districts to Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, will be covered and the competitors will be provided with lunch and cool drinks while at the races.
For further information about the Development Series Race Day, please contact KZN Cycling Development Officer, Tyrone Johns, on 083 606 6086.