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06 May, 2015

Cycling on Track!

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Wind, rain and more than 200 cyclists converged on the Hector Norris Park Track during April for the 2015 South African National Track Championships. In spite of the conditions, a world and 14 South African records tumbled at the event. Modern Cyclist went to check out the action.

Grenville Scullard toppled both a World and South African record when he took just 34.33 seconds to cover 500 metres in the 50 to 54 men’s time trial on day one of the competition.

Although Grenville’s world record was not yet confirmed at the time of writing, he was quoted as saying in a Cycling South Africa press release that he was happy with his performance at the Hector Norris Park Track, especially after he added the gold medal for the 50 to 54 men’s match sprint event and a silver for the 45 to 54 men’s 1500 metre.

“Being able to ride in a national championships at your home track is always a real plus and I have enjoyed taking on the country’s best in my own backyard,” he commented.

On that same day, Almo Pretorius set up a new national record (51.29 seconds) in the 45 to 49 year old men’s 750 metre time trial and Gerrit Scheepers (35.01) did the same for the 55 to 59 year old men’s 500 metre time trial.

Wendell Bole added yet another national record where he blitzed the 65 to 69 men’s 500 metre time trial in a time of 39.04 seconds. Apart from this gold medal, he also received individual medals for a number of events, including gold for the 10 kilometre men’s 65 to 69 points race, gold for the 65 to 69 men’s 1500 metre, gold for the 65 to 69 men’s five kilometre scratch race and gold for the 65 to 69 men’s 916 metre sprint.

A further four national records fell on the second day. Zakariyyaa Martin notched up a time of 1:40.67 in the under 10 boys 1000 metre individual pursuit and Chante Olivier rode 1500 metres in 2:27.79 ensuring her name is recorded in the under 12 girl’s 1500 metre individual pursuit records.

Things are looking good for the future, with both the girl’s and boy’s under 14 pursuit events raced over 1500 metres. These were taken by Simone Faber (2:21.59) and Caleb Buchel (2:06.82) respectively.

Six records fell on day three, many of them for para-athletes who were allowed to race in the same championships as able-bodied riders. Juan Odendaal broke the C3 3000 metre individual pursuit national record with his 4:28.25 and Dane Wilson now holds the 4000 metre C5 individual pursuit national record.

CSA Para-cycling Commission Director, Dr Mike Burns was hugely grateful to the organisers for letting the handful of para-cyclists take part in the event.

“I just want to extend a massive thank you to the event organisers for giving the para-riders the chance to compete in the same championships. It has been a great experience for them to be involved in such a massive event,” he said.

The Gauteng 35 to 44 men’s team broke the 3000 metre team pursuit record with their time of 3:28.77, Ilna Lemmer broke the national 2000 metre individual pursuit for 60 to 64 year old women, with her time of 2:44.25, Elisa Gianchino now holds the 2000 metre individual pursuit for 40 to 44 year old women and Maurice Connor’s time of 2:50.17 was enough to secure him a national record in the 2000 metre individual pursuit for 75 to 79 year old men.

Apart from the national record mentioned above, Gauteng dominated team performances, and won gold medals in the following events: Under 10 boys’ team 2000 metre pursuit, under 12 boys’ team 2000 metre pursuit, under 14 boys’ team 2000 metre pursuit, master women’s 458 metre team sprint, 55 to 59 men’s 687 metre team sprint, 45 to 54 men’s 687 metre team sprint, under 16 boys’ team 3000 metre pursuit, elite women’s open 458 metre team sprint, junior men’s 4000 metre team pursuit, master women’s 2000 metre team pursuit, 55 to 59 men’s 3000 metre team pursuit, 45 to 54 men’s 3000 metre team pursuit and 35 to 44 men’s 3000 metre team pursuit.

Western Cape took the 35 to 44 men’s team 687 metre team sprint and the elite women’s 4000 metre team pursuit.

Individual event medal tallies were fruitful for many of the favourites. Elite riders Maroesjka Matthee and Nolan Hoffman dominated their respective events with Maroesjka receiving medals for the elite women’s two kilometre keirin (gold), the elite women’s 1500 metres (gold), the elite women’s 20 kilometre points race (gold), the elite women’s 500 metre time trial (bronze), the elite women’s 10 kilometre scratch race (gold), the elite women’s 3000 metre individual pursuit (gold), and Nolan the elite men’s elimination (gold), elite men’s 15 kilometre scratch race (gold) and the elite men’s 40 kilometre points race (gold). This excludes both athlete’s performances in team events.

Other athletes who performed impressively in the hunt for multiple medals for individual performances included Elisa Gianchino with seven medals (six gold, one silver), Amanda Wray with seven medals (one gold, five silver and one bronze), Diane Scullard with six medals (three gold and three silver), Val Scheppel with six medals (five gold and one silver), Maurice Connor with six medals (two gold and four silver), Annelise Pretorius with five medals (two gold, one silver and two bronze), Ilna Lemmer with five medals (two gold and three bronze), Jacques Fullard with five medals (three gold, one silver and one bronze), Jennifer Abbot with five medals (five gold), Jessica Gerber with five medals (four silver and one bronze), Mitchell Sparrow with five medals (four gold and one silver) and Gerrit Scheepers with five medals (four gold and one silver).

The president of CSA, William Newman, has hailed the event as a success and he was quick to thank everyone that was involved in putting together such a successful event.

“We really had a fantastic five days of racing at the Hector Norris Park,” a visibly happy president said. “Not even a little bit of rain could dampen the overall success of the event and I am very encouraged by a number of factors that have come from the national champs which excites me for the future of track racing in our country.”

The event attracted a large number of entries from all over the country in all of the varying age groups and having a broad spectrum of riders, and this was something that CSA was encouraged by as well as the amount of riders that came from other disciplines.

“We had a large number of entries for the national championships which shows that track cycling is still very popular as well as getting a large number of women entries at the event also makes me excited as it shows a growth amongst females. Another aspect that I found promising was the amount of road riders that came across to compete in the track champs,” he added.

Getting the youth involved in track cycling is something that William feels is important and he was encouraged by the numbers in the junior age groups as well as the talent that was on display.

“A youngster like Mitchell Sparrow was inspirational through the week and I think he might have set some times that were faster than the elites in the under 18 age group!,” he quipped.

The president stressed the importance of growing the awareness of track cycling throughout the country and amongst potential corporate investors and he does not see why the sport should not go from strength to strength because of the appeal as a spectator sport.

“The potential of track cycling as a sport that people can enjoy is huge! It is a sport that can provide entertainment because of the fact that you can see all of the action and so being able to appeal to spectators will bring with it the possibility of investment. I am busy trying to build the awareness around the need for an indoor, wood track velodrome somewhere in the country and if we can get a world class facility then I see no reason why we can’t compete with the best in the world,” he concluded.

Raymond Travers

Raymond Travers

Modern Cyclist Editor |

Editor