The morning of Day Two of the 2017 African Continental Track Championships began with a moment of silence and respect for Egyptian cyclist Eslam Nasser Zaki at the Cyril Geoghegan Cycle Stadium in Durban on Human Right’s Day – Tuesday 21 March. Riders and officials on the day wore black bands on their arms and flags were half-mast in honour of him. His teammate, Ebtissam Zayed lapped up the gold medals in both the Elite Women’s Individual Pursuit and Keirin event, and the silver medal in the Team Time Trial (also with Donia Rashwan) events as they held him close to their hearts.
Zayed claimed the gold medal in the Elite Women’s Individual Pursuit, with South Africa’s Charlene du Preez riding into the silver medal spot. Danielle van Niekerk – who won the pursuit over Absolute Motion’s Julie Lee – claimed the bronze medal.
The Egyptian team celebrated another victory soon after when Zayed won the Elite Women’s Keirin Final ahead of South Africa’s Bernette Beyers in second and Strasse Panda Team’s Jennifer Abbot in third.
2016 Olympian Zayed then further went on to win the silver medal in the Elite Women’s Team Sprint final with teammate Donia Rashwan. Zayed was thrilled with her victories, and dedicated each win to her fallen teammate and friend. “I don’t know if I am happy or so sad because I won two gold medals today, but I lost my friend yesterday,” she said. “I give him these two gold medals today. I know he’s not with me right here, but I give them to him anyway,” she added.
Zayed mentioned that she was emotionally and physically tired. “We had so many events today because yesterday’s was cancelled, and it’s very hot as well, so it’s all made me very tired.”
Never having won a Keirin before against South African riders, Zayed was overwhelmed with her victory: “I’ve won before but never against South Africa. They are such a strong nation with many more riders. I do all track cycling events – sprint and endurance – and I also do road cycling, but I never thought I’d win the Keirin. I knew I could take second, but I dreamt to take the first. I have only had four days of training on the track before this event because I was doing road championships in Egypt and came straight to the training camp.
“Bernette (Beyers) is also such a strong rider and a good friend to me. She’s been training at the UCI in Switzerland and is a very good sprinter. I am so, so happy about today.
“In the Individual Pursuit, I saw Charlene (du Preez) ahead of me but tears were blocking my eyes. I knew she was ahead of me but I didn’t have it in me to ride hard because I was so sad. And then something told me to fight, and instead of seeing Charlene through my tears, I just saw Eslam. I became strong and just rode for my friend.”
Zayed mentioned that her and teammate Rashwan were hoping very much for the gold medal in the Team Time Trial, but were happy to take the silver after two golds.
The final two races of the Elite Men’s Omnium event – Elimination and Points race – also took place in the morning session of the second day, and were won by Evan Carstens and Nolan Hoffman respectively. This contributed to Hoffman winning the overall gold medal for points accumulated in the Omnium events, with Carstens in second and Hendricks in third.
In the Junior Women’s Keirin event, Courtney Smith just pipped Jessica Brown with mere split seconds between them to take the gold medal. With a whirlwind of mixed emotions, she said: “I was super nervous because Jessica is such a great sprinter, she’s even been to Switzerland to sprint. Jessica had quite a gap on me in the middle of the sprint and I just kept going. My legs were absolutely burning but I had to keep going because I knew hers were too. I didn’t know if I was going to close the gap or not, but I eventually got over her which was the best thing. It was amazing.”
Smith also mentioned how much she is enjoying racing against the other juniors. “I’m not racing against girls often here in KwaZulu-Natal, but this has been so incredible. They are all such good riders and its amazing competition,” she added.
Team South Africa dominated the Team Pursuit in the Elite Men’s category with Got It Global and Giant coming second and Future Stars Cycling Academy in third.
In the Elite Men’s Team Sprint, Team Giant took the honours ahead of Team South Africa in second and Seychelles in third.
The Junior Men’s Scratch race caused a thrill of excitement for teams and spectators as Morocco’s Mohamed Medrazi took the title after 10 kilometres with Rwanda’s Eric Jean Hambimana in second position and Seychelles’ Stephen Belle in third.
Full results from the morning session of Day 2 will be available on the website soon. For more information and updates, please visit https://www.cyclingsa.com/2017-african-conti-track-champs/.
Provisional Summary of Results – 2017 African Continental Track Championships Day 2
Elite Men Individual Pursuit – Final 4000m
1.Steven van Heerden (BCX) 5:03.34
2.Jared Poulton (Got It Global)
3.Othmane El Afi (MAR)
Elite Men Omnium
1.Nolan Hoffman (BCX) 172 (total points)
2.Evan Carstens (RSA) 154
3.Clint Hendricks (Got It Global) 148
Elite Women Keirin – Final
1.Ebtissam Zayed (EGY)
2.Bernette Beyers (RSA)
3.Jennifer Abbott (Strasse Panda)
Elite Women Team Sprint – Final
1.Bernette Beyers/Jennifer Abbott (RSA)
2.Ebtissam Zayed/Donia Rashwan (EGY)
Junior Men Scratch – 10km
1.Mohamed Medrazi (MAR)
2.Eric Jean Habimana (RWA)
3.Stephen Belle (SYC)
Junior Men Time Trial – Final 1km
1.Jason Oosthuizen (RSA)
2.Yassine Berjali (MAR)
3.Tye Stainbank (FSSA)
Junior Men Individual Pursuit – Final
1.Jason Oosthuizen (RSA) 3:44.75
2.Ricardo Broxham (RSA)
3.Mohamed Medrazi (MAR)
Junior Women Keirin – Final
1.Courtney Smith (RSA)
2.Jessica Brown (RSA)
Junior Women Team Sprint – Final
1.Jessica Brown/Courtney Smith (RSA)