Pietermaritzburg – A number of para-cycling titles were decided on the opening morning of the Confederation of African Cycling (CAC) Continental Track Championships at the Sax Young Cycling track in Alexandra Park, Pietermaritzburg, on Wednesday.
Roxy Burns stopped the clocks in 5:11.51 in the women's C4-C5 individual pursuit over 3 000 metres, while Dane John Wilson recorded a time of 5:24.09 in the men's race over 4 000 metres. In the C1-C3 men's individual pursuit over 3 000 metres, Craig Ridgard snared the gold medal ahead of fellow South African, Juan Odendaal, in 4:22.56.
Fellow C4-C5 competitor, Dane John Wilson enjoyed his individual pursuit, although, he admitted, it was not without its challenges.
"The weather is fantastic and the conditions are good," Wilson explained. "The track is a little bit slow compared to riding at altitude, but I had a smooth ride, although I had a disappointing start.
“I am struggling with getting the set-up on my prosthetic right at the moment. It can be improved, and the main goal is the World Champs in two month’s time. This is a nice dry-run, prep event with no pressure."
Craig Ridgard, the winner of the C1-C3 individual pursuit, said having the competition on African soil presented him with a wonderful opportunity.
"It is special to have the Continental Championships in South Africa. I am not part of the South African team because I didn't participate in the National Champs, so if this was in another country it would stop me going. It's a pleasure having it here," he said.
Burns said she found her race tough but mentioned she was faster than she had been at the recent Western Province Championships. Due to her studies, Burns had begun training in earnest in November only. Despite this, she expressed optimism about her form.
"I am not too worried because, according to my coach, I am on the right track to peak for Worlds [at the end of March]. This is a bonus training ride, so I can see where I am and can take it from there."
William Newman, the President of the African Confederation's Track Commission, expressed his excitement about what the competition means for the sport in South Africa and Africa.
"It is fantastic for South Africa to host the African Continental Track Championships,” Newman mentioned. “It was tried in 2001, but there was no continuity and so after putting the plan together to make it happen again, it looks very promising.
"We don't have many nations here, but it is a starting point and I have the responsibility as the President of the African Confederation Track Commission to ensure that this grows.
“I have a deep interest in track cycling and I want more African nations to participate in track,” a passionate Newman added.
Newman also said he wanted to build upon the excellent results achieved by South African para-cyclists. “Para-cycling has done tremendously well over the last couple of years. If you look at the results last year, we had three Para world champions in South Africa," he said.
"Track para-cycling is one of the big disciplines that we can also focus on. We have a few track cyclists doing para-cycling, but, again, there are not enough competitors.
“In South Africa we have to continue developing the track cycling discipline and we need more riders from Africa also taking part in track,” Newman explained.
The African Continental Track Champs will be streamed live on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 January from 09:00 to 18:00 on www.streamit360.tv. Uploads of the edited highlights packages from Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 January will be available to view on Wednesday and Thursday evening from 20:00.
Follow the conversation during the 2015 African Continental Track Champs on Cycling SA's social media platforms using the hashtags #CACtrackchamps #africachamps on Twitter (@Cycling_SA) and Instagram (Cycling_SA).
Entrance for spectators is free of charge.
More information can be found at http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-african-conti-track-champs
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – African Continental Track Championships Day One
MORNING SESSION – 21 JANUARY 2015
C1-C3 Men Individual Pursuit 3 000 metres – gold medal
1. Craig Rigard (RSA) 4:22.56
2. Juan Odendaal (RSA) 4:32.74
C4 - C5 Men Individual Pursuit 4 000 metres gold medal
1. Dane John Wilson (RSA) 5:24.09
C4 – C5 Women Individual Pursuit 3 000 metres – gold medal
1. Roxy Burns (RSA) 5:11.51
Elite Men Pursuit 4 000 metres – Heat
RSA (Morne van Niekerk, Stefan de Bod, HB Kruger, Kellan Gouveris) 4:36.35
VWE-Europcar Track Academy (Jac-Johan Steyn, Jaryd Poulton, Oupa Maluleke, Steven van Heerden) 4:43.30
Gauteng (Dirkie Nel, Matt Roe, Jean Spies, Joshua Buchel) 4:43.47
KwaZulu-Natal (Robert du Preez, Darren Goddard, Christopher Mlotshwa, Kyle Walker) 4:59.39
Elite Men Team Sprint – Heat
RSA (Matthew de Freitas, Kyle-Lee Borchjes, Jean Smith, Eugene Soule) 1:33.40
VWE-Europcar Track Academy (Douglas Abott, Jac-Johan Steyn, Jaryd Poulton, Oupa Maluleke) 1:35.26
Gauteng (Matt Roe, Jean Spies, Joshua Buchel) 1:35.82
KwaZulu-Natal (Christopher Mlotshwa, Darren Goddard, Robert du Preez, Kyle Walker)
Junior Men Omnium Scratch 10km – Heat
1. Mitchell Sparrow (RSA)
2. Alroy Palm (WP)
3. Joshua van Wyk (Gauteng)
Junior Men Omnium – Individual Pursuit – 3 000 metres
1. Joshua van Wyk (Gauteng)
2. Mitchell Sparrow (RSA)
3. Alroy Palm (WP)
Junior Men Individual Pursuit 3 000 metres – Heat
1. Nafees Isaacs (RSA) 3:55.89
2. Michael Pretorius (FS) 4:22.32
1. Zubair Williams (WP) 4:04.60
2. Damean Oosthuizen (FS) 4:12.90
1. Waylin Young (RSA) 3:47.51
2. Oussama Mansouri (ALG) 4:12.86