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Paralympian Roxy leads the way at continental track championships
- Updated: January 22, 2015
A number of para-cycling titles were decided on Wednesday’s opening day of the Confederation of African Cycling (CAC) Continental Track Championships at the Sax Young Cycling track in Alexandra Park, Pietermaritzburg.
London Paralympian Roxy Burns stopped the clocks at 5min 11.51sec in the women’s C4-C5 individual pursuit over 3000 metres, while Dane Wilson recorded a time of 5:24.09 in the men’s race over 4000m. In the C1-C3 men’s individual pursuit over 3000m, Craig Ridgard snared the gold medal ahead of fellow South African, Juan Odendaal, in 4:22.56.
Fellow C4-C5 competitor, 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 Pat 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.
Picture: Craig Dutton/Gameplan Media