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.
Entrance for spectators is free of charge.