Medals galore at AFCON Track Championships in Morocco

A strong and determined South African contingent attended the 2018 African Continental Track Championships in Casablanca, Morocco, and represented their country with phenomenal achievements.

The Continental Championships offer valuable UCI points, and improve one’s individual ranking for attendance into the UCI World Cup events, as well as offering slots for the UCI Track World Championships. It was clear that the participants had clear goals to achieve by their attendance.

Three of Team South Africa’s Commonwealth Games Gold Coast 2018 endurance track cyclists were in attendance, namely Steven van Heerden, Joshua van Wyk and Gert Fouché.

According to Hylton Belitzky, who attended the Championships as a Manager to Junior rider Courtney Smith, the Men’s Points race was spectacular to watch. “The South Africans where on the attack making it a fast and hard race, and Steven Van Heerden (25) won after a sterling performance,” he said.

17-year-old Courtney Smith won six gold medals in total. In the Women’s Junior category, Smith earned four gold medals in the Sprint, Keirin, Time Trial and Individual Pursuit. She also competed in the Elite Women’s Points Race and Scratch, where she earned two hard-fought third places, resulting in two Junior gold medals.

“The Women’s Points race was my highlight,” said Belitzky. “The Juniors and Elites raced together and from the get-go, Courtney and Ebtessam (EGY) attacked and took a lap eight laps later. She then lapped the other Junior women four times! When Donia (EGY) was on the rivet, Courtney attacked and Ebtessam had to pull Donia back to Courtney.”

Ebtessam, the Egyptian rider who competed at the Rio Olympic Games, could not get rid of Courtney, no matter how many times she attacked. Belitzky added that Courtney put in more than her fair share of work during the races.

“Ebtessam and Courtney shared the workload while Donia was sitting on the wheel as she was on the rivet. It was amazing to see a junior holding more than her own against two elite riders from the same country,” he said.

Jean Spies (29) was another high medal earner, as he garnered a total of six medals – five golds in the Sprint, Keirin, Time Trial, Team Sprint (with Hylton Belitzky (43) and Wade Theunissen (20)) and Team Pursuit (with Joshua van Wyk (20), Steven van Heerden (25) and Gert Fouché (38)), and a bronze medal in the Scratch.

Wade Theunissen also won silver in the Sprint and Time Trial, to add to his gold medal in the Team Sprint.

Steven van Heerden added another gold medal to his Team Pursuit gold when he won the Points Race, a silver medal in the Scratch and a bronze medal in the Individual Pursuit.

Gert Fouché won a gold medal in the Individual Pursuit; and a silver medal in the Points Race, while Joshua van Wyk earned bronze in an all-South African Points Race podium.

Jennifer Abbot (20) and Elisa Gianchino (43) competed in the Elite Women’s races and walked away with some medals to add to the nation’s tally. Abbot won gold in the Time Trial and silver in the Sprint, while Gianchino claimed silver in the Time trial and bronze in the Keirin. When Abbot and Gianchino teamed up for the Team Sprint, they earned a silver medal with their second-place finish. Unfortunately, a crash in the Scratch saw both riders unable to finish the race.

“It was a good Continental Champs,” said Belitzky. “The riders understood the UCI points structure and what they needed. Algeria and Morocco had some strong riders in the competition.”

Summary of Results – 2018 African Continental Track Championships (MOROCCO)

MEN ELITE

Sprint

1.SPIES Jean (RSA)
2.THEUNISSEN Wade (RSA)
3.BELFARES Mehdi (MAR)
7.BELITZKY Hylton (RSA)

Keirin

1.SPIES Jean (RSA)
2.GALDOUNE Ahmed Amine (MAR)
3.BELFARES Mehdi (MAR)
6.THEUNISSEN Wade (RSA)

Time Trial

1.SPIES Jean (RSA) 1:10:268
2.THEUNISSEN Wade (RSA) 1:13:601
3.SASSANE El Khacib (ALG) 1:13:946
4.BELITZKY Hylton (RSA) 1:14:575
8.DE WET Kyle (RSA) 1:17:897

Points Race

1.VAN HEERDEN Steven (RSA) 66
2.FOUCHE Gert (RSA) 51
3.VAN WYK Joshua (RSA) 37

Scratch

1.CHALEL Yacine (ALG)
2.VAN HEERDEN Steven (RSA)
3.SPIES Jean (RSA)

Individual Pursuit

1.FOUCHE Gert (RSA) 4:54:054
2.EL KOURAJI Mohcine (MAR) 4:58:527
3.VAN HEERDEN Steven (RSA) 5:04:890
4.VAN WYK Joshua (RSA) 5:10:582

Team Sprint

1.SPIES Jean / BELITZKY Hylton / THEUNISSEN Wade (RSA) 1:07:297
2.BOUZIDI Mohamed / KARRAR Ayoub / SASSANE El Khacib (ALG) 1:10:930
3.EL KOURAJI Mohcine / ABDERRAHIM Zahiri / GALDOUNE Ahmed Amine (MAR) 1:13:437

Team Pursuit

1.VAN WYK Joshua / SPIES Jean / VAN HEERDEN Steven / FOUCHE Gert (RSA) 4:42:850
2.EL KOURAJI Mohcine / MRAOUNI Salaheddine / ABDERRAHIM Zahiri / GALDOUNE Ahmed Amine (MAR) 4:57:819
3.HADJBOUZIT Karim / BOUZIDI Mohamed / LALLOUCHI Ismain / SASSANE El Khacib (ALG) 5:12:541

WOMEN ELITE

Sprint

1.ZAYED AHMED Ebtissam (EGY)
2.ABBOT Jennifer (RSA)
3.MOHAMED RASHWAN Donia (EGY)

Keirin

1.ZAYED AHMED Ebtissam (EGY)
2.EL HAYANI Fatima Zahra (MAR)
3.GIANCHINO Elisa (RSA)

Time Trial

1.Jen Abbot (RSA)
2.Elisa Gianchino (RSA)

Points Race

1.ZAYED AHMED Ebtissam (EGY) 63
2.MOHAMED RASHWAN Donia (EGY) 45
3.SMITH Courtney (RSA) 42

Scratch

1.ZAYED AHMED Ebtissam (EGY)
2.MOHAMED RASHWAN Donia  (EGY)
3.SMITH Courtney (RSA)

Team Sprint

1.ZAYED AHMED Ebtissam / MOHAMED RASHWAN Donia (EGY) 52:123
2.GIANCHINO Elisa / ABBOT Jennifer (RSA) 52:769
3.BENAJI Mounia / EL HAYANI Fatima Zahra (MAR) 56:234

WOMEN JUNIOR

Sprint

1.SMITH Courtney (RSA)
2.BARHRAOUI Hakima (MAR)
3.BENZEKRI Fatima Zahra (MAR)

Keirin

1.SMITH Courtney (RSA)
2.BARHRAOUI Hakima (MAR)
3.BENZEKRI Fatima Zahra (MAR)

Time Trial

1.SMITH Courtney (RSA) 42:104
2.BARHRAOUI Hakima (MAR) 45:385
3.ES-SAD Siham (MAR) 46:105

Individual Pursuit

1.SMITH Courtney (RSA) 3:00:164
2.ES-SAD Siham (MAR) 3:03:927
3.BARHRAOUI Hakima (MAR) 3:17:298