Gold medal haul for SA para team in Ghana Champs

South Africa’s Para-cyclists raked in a total of six gold medals on the first day of the 4th edition of the International Cycling Union (UCI) African Para-cycling championship Time Trial race on Saturday 10th December 2011 in Accra, Ghana.

The Time Trial competitors raced on a 3.2km stretch on the ‘Kanda Highway’ forming a 6.4km lap.

For some of the team, it was the first time that they were participating outside of South Africa.  Young Madre Carinus however, is considered a “veteran” at these events.  Madre, who hails from Stellenbosch, has represented her country on several occasions and provided stability to the newcomers to the team.

Mr Maxwell Vardon, Executive Secretary of the National Council on Persons with Disability, who opened the ceremony, expressed regret at the treatment which many disabled persons experienced across Africa, forcing them to resort to begging and other anti-social vices to earn a living.

Madre and fellow tri-cyclists Keenan Bickle (Kimberley) and Yusthin Lintnaar (Paarl) as the only riders in their categories (T1 men, T2 men, T1 Women), created awareness to the communities of Ghana who are hard at work to develop the sport of Para-cycling.  In the process, they scored valuable UCI-points.

Madre completed her one lap in 14 minutes 30 seconds.  Yustin raced his two laps in 24 minutes 09 seconds (T2 men), while Keenan suffered an unfortunate mechanical and could not finish his T1 race.

Andries Scheepers put on an impressive performance, racing in the H4 category.  The Rustenburg local competes in the same category as current World Champion Ernst van Dyk, and completed his three laps in 31 minutes 37 seconds.

C4 participant Thabo Sesing (Kimberley) proved that he is a force to be reckoned with, and a talent worth nurturing as we progress towards the 2016 Paralympics.  Thabo completed his three laps in 32 minutes 44 seconds.

The tandem team of Lourens de Kock (pilot) and Francois Bezuidenhout raced in amongst five other teams in the B2 category.  Their SA teammates and supporters held their breath in anticipation as they had broken several spokes during their 4 laps of the 6.4km circuit, yet their outstanding performance still earned them a gold medal despite their tribulations during their race.  Lourens and Francois clocked 41 minutes 44 seconds.

Team captain James van Rensburg was superb in guiding his team and keeping them positive – James participated in the C5 class amongst three participants, finishing his three laps in 29 minutes 21 seconds.

Ghana gained the exclusive rights from the UCI to host this year's African Championship event, which will automatically qualify Team Ghana and other African countries by accruing maximum points for the various athletes to the 2012 London Paralympic Games.