Our para-cyclists have wrapped up the P1 continental road championships with yet more success and medals in Accra, Ghana, writes Mark Etheridge.
After six gold medals in the time trial event on the opening day of the championships, there were another seven gold medals that came the way of Team South Africa during the road race on the second and final day.
In the tandem event, Lourens de Kock and Frans Bezuidenhout combined for the victory. They covered the course of 64 kilometres in 2hr 50min 54sec for a victory margin of 35sec over second placed Ghana.
Other golds came the way of H4 competitor Andries Scheepers, Yusthin Lintnaar (T2), Thabo Sesing (C4) and team captain James van Rensburg (C5). Scheepers had a huge victory margin in his win. His winning time was 2:02:36 and when runner-up Lassane Gasbeogo crossed the finish line the clock read 2:21:43.
In the T1 category results showed that Keenan Bickle was given a DNF grading (Did Not Finish) but, explained team manager Ciska Austin: “He did finish the event and had been awarded the medal and jersey and I am unsure why it reflects as such. I have followed up with the UCI, as it might be because he had a DNF in the TT and they have used the combined times.”
Lintnaar’s time on the road was 1:29:32 as he won the T2 category while Sesing’s win in the C4 class came in a time of 2:28:11.
Van Rensburg nabbed another medal for Team SA in the C5 category with a time of 2:24:58 and there was also a huge victory margin for the 37-year-old, more than 25 minutes in fact, from Ghana’s John Mensah Badu.
There was just one woman in the Team SA ranks and she also had reason to smile. Young Madre Carinus, 21, won the T2 category with a time of 59:38.
The road race was contested on laps of 6.4 kilometres. The tandem men did 64km, the C5s and C4s 32km, the T2 women 19.2km, the T1 men three laps (19.2km) and then the H4 category 51.2km.
Summing up the Accra experience Austin said: “We all enjoyed it ÔÇô the Ghana Cycling Federation welcomed us with open arms and it was a great experience to be accommodated in Accra.┬á┬áNot once did we feel uncomfortable, the Ghanaians are friendly helpful people.
“The team was young (some were older, but inexperienced) and I think that through an event with ‘less’ pressure, they gained the understanding of what it is like to participate abroad. Three of the riders came from a PDI background as well and it is nice to take these youngsters from the Boland and Kimberley with me. They were like sponges ÔÇô just taking in all the new things and the experience all the time.
It was really hot, but at least not as humid and we got use to the temperatures.┬á We also had some cultural interaction as they had some traditional dancers at the race and we also visited the Art Centre prior to our departure on Monday.”
On the road ahead Austin is confident that the trip was a groundbreaker. “I believe CyclingSA and the Ghana Cycling Association will be able to take hands in future to grow para-cycling.┬á They are very passionate, we are very passionate and through this the para-athletes can truly benefit.”