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Double gold for SA

The curtain came down on the UCI BMX World Championships in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday with a thrilling days racing in the cruiser class that came to a head with two South African women claiming world titles.

Racing in front of hysterical crowd support 52-year-old Pietermaritzburg stalwart Sharlene McGillvray clinched the gold in her main final in the women’s 45+ age group, before Kloof schoolgirl Teagan O’Keefe ended the thrilling days racing by scorching to an emphatic victory in the elite junior girls final.

The biggest drama of the day was reserved for the elite junior boys cruiser final. With Colombian ace David Oquendo Zabala well in front and on track for a world title, the tightly bunched chasing pack coming out of the first turning berm disintegrated into the biggest crash of the championship.

It took down all seven chasers, four of them Brazilians, and sent bikes and riders flying across the track. Fortunately none of the riders was seriously hurt.

O’Keefe’s emphatic victory came against the backdrop of massive pressure on her to perform, not only from the packed stands, but also from Cycling South Africa who have supported her to train abroad as part of its elite development programme.

The pink haired master rider McGillvray converted the pressure of the massive hometown expectations into a staggering charge through her main final that saw her shrug off her world number two ranking to beat Jennifer Strachan of New Zealand and Liesbeth van Jagt of The Netherlands, sending the big crowd into raptures.

“It was great to win in my hometown, but the pressure was not easy to handle,” she said afterwards.

“I took the decision on the start ramp not to touch my brakes,” she added. That brave gamble paid handsome dividends as she secured a critical holeshot that set up her victory.

In the morning session, France showed its rich vein of form in the older junior ranks and 17-24 class, when their men repeated their total domination of the challenger events in these age groups.

American star Felicia Stancil looked to be on track to winning the double in her 15-16 class, however she didn’t see a heroic charge to the line by Kiwi Nicole Wright, who snuck home ahead of the world number one to deny her a clean sweep of the gold medals.

New Zealand racer Nicole Sarten proved to be peerless in her 17-24 main final, as she quickly turned the race into a procession, and a scrap for the minor placing.

In the 25-29 main final, Aussie star Mardi Katakasi was eclipsed by the nuggety Briton Ria Goodman, who snatched an early lead, and robustly denied the Aussie any opportunity to pass.

While the cruiser class BMX bikes are more stable than the elite bikes, the day saw a number of stars sidelined by crashes on the tough long layout.

Dutch cruiser title contender Joyce Seesing was taken to hospital with a broken collar bone, suffered during her warm-up before the first elite motos, one of two broken collarbones on the day.

Local hospitals have been busy throughout the four days dealing with injuries suffered during the practice sessions and the motos, including one clean leg fracture, and a Japanese competitor who broke both ankles when he misjudged his landing while attempting the difficult jump over the second berm.

At the closing of the event, the international cycling federation was quick to label the event “the best ever” BMX World Champs.

“We often say that after a world champs, but this time we can say it honestly and truthfully,” said the UCI head of gravity disciplines Johan Lindstrom.

“It has been fantastic for BMX, and we are all on a high,” he added. “All of the riders have had a great time in Pietermaritzburg. I must admit that many of them had their doubts, but it has been brilliant.”

The competition closed with the formal presentation of the UCI flag to representativ es of the city of Stockholm, where the 2001 world champs will be hosted.


1 Renato Rezende BRA
2 Andres Jiminez Caicedo COL
3 Carlos Oquendo Zabala COL

1 Mariana Pajon COL
2 Romana Labounkova CZE
3 Vilma Rimsaite LTU

1 David Oquendo Zabala COL
2 Benjamin Clarke AUS
3 Daniel Franks NZL

1 Teagan O’Keefe RSA
2 Enora la Roux FRA
3 Bianca Quinalha BRA

12,13-14 GIRLS
1 Harriet Burbridge-Smith AUS
2 Hannah Sarten NZL
3 Abigail Fox NZL

1 Hernan Godoy Becerra CHI
2 Michael Gonzales USA
3 Paolo Cortez ECU

13,14 BOYS
1 Jordan Lecher AUS
2 Felippi Goncalves BRA
3 Bram va der Hudding NED

15,16 GIRLS
1 Ingreed Mercredi FRA
2 Felicia Stancil USA
3 Chelsea King AUS

15,16 BOYS
1 Amidou Mir FRA
2 Federico Emiliano Villegas ARG
3 Maliek Byndloss USA

17-24 WOMEN
1 Nicole Sarten NZL
2 Devan Searle USA
3 Catherine Soucaze FRA

17-24 MEN
1 David Mulot FRA
2 Oliver Begue FRA
3 Mickael Leleux FRA

25-29,30-34 WOMEN
1 Rian Goodman GBR
2 Mardi Katakasi AUS
3 Jane Ward AUS

25-29 MEN
1 Hus Aurelien FRA
2 Levi Collins AUS
3 Jonathan Chislett RSA

30-34 MEN
1 Dorus Brink NED
2 Daniel Roura ECU
3 Herve Krebs SUI

35-39 WOMEN
1 Kersten Fritscher GER
2 Maree McGarva NZL
3 Rika Olivier RSA

35-39 WOMEN
1 Richard van Zomeren NED
2 Eric Breuils SUI
3 Jean Renault Ducos de Lahitte FRA

40-44 MEN
1 Domingos Lammoglia BRA
2 Tim Ward AUS
3 Gerben Dorland NED

1 Sharlene McGillvray RSA
2 Jennifer Strachan NZL
3 Liesbeth van der Jagt NED

1 Eric Rupe USA
2 Donald Beals USA
3 Billy Stupple GBR

2 Australia
3 Netherlands