Not even the sign of rain deterred BMX riders from participating in the opening three legs of the recent BMX National Age Group (N.A.G.) Series, which took place at the Germiston BMX Club in Delville, Gauteng.
An excellent quality of racing was delivered and the event was well supported by star athletes, proud parents, friends and fans alike.
The combined 17-24 and Elite category had the biggest entry field to date, with 26 men on the start line to take on the challenge. South African and African Continental Elite BMX Champion, Kyle Dodd, came first overall despite suffering a nasty crash, which resulted in a broken left wrist.
‘I tried to do something different but it didn’t work out and it threw me off,’ said Dodd. ‘I came down on my hands and broke my left wrist. I’m happy with my result, but I would have loved to have finished its just one of those things.
‘In two weeks time I go to the doctor, then from there it is another four weeks of rest and then physio, but hopefully it all goes well.’
Although it is too soon to tell, Dodd is optimistic in terms of recovery, and is very hopeful for the rest of his season. ‘I’ll still be doing some training but not on the bike. I just want to heal now. Depending on the healing process, I will be off to World Champs in Belgium at the end of July and then SA Champs in September,’ he said.
The enthusiastic Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy team from Cape Town competed in the series and Themba Hlophe won the gold medal in the Elite B main category. On Sunday, Bayanda Ganyaza won the silver medal and Xolisa Makubalo, the bronze in the same category.
General Manager, Sipho Mona, is happy with the success of the riders who participated in the competition. ‘They brought home three medals. Look, its almost a normality that someone brings a medal back, it’s almost expected now,’ he laughed.
Mona mentioned that due to financial constraints, it wasn’t economically feasible to send too many riders to Legs 1-3 of the series, although now that there has been financial assistance, he is overjoyed at the fact that there will be many more at the next.
‘Now, with the support of the MTN SA Foundation, we are able to send a few more riders to the next legs of the series in July. So this time, we are hoping to send no less than eight to 10 riders,’ he said.
Administration Manager of Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy, Suzi Broomberg, said: ‘Because we have had riders entered over the past few years now, they are always excited for the N.A.G Series,’ she said.
Also from Cape Town, Songo.info brought six riders through to Germiston from Kayamandi Township to compete. BMX coach, Darryn Stowe, talks about what it means to those who participated: ‘All-in-all it was an eye opener in so many ways for everyone involved.’
He mentioned that, although the riders found it tough at times, the experience was one never to be forgotten. ‘We brought six riders down – four of which had never competed at national level before. They all tried really hard, but there is a very high standard of racing out there.
The two girls we brought with us were all but nine-years-old, so to race with riders 10, 11 and 12 years of age is huge for them. But we have a three-year plan for them. It’s so good for them to ride and experience this all. It’s one of the quickest ways to motivate them to keep trying,’ he said.
‘It was also great for them to be out of Kayamandi for bit. It was their first time flying, and each of the children had a chance to go inside the cockpit. The level of excitement was very high when we returned, and the stories they had to tell to their friends were so encouraging and motivating,’ he said.
Brandon Pratt was also a favourite coming into the competition at the weekend. His father, Russell, was impressed with the level of racing. ‘It was a good weekend’s racing. There were so many little kids racing and they all did very well,’ he said.
Brandon came first in the Junior Elite category. ‘I had a good weekend, although I did bail in one of my races,’ he said. ‘I am turning 17 this year, so I competed in the Junior Elites with riders a lot older than me, but it was good,’ he said.
Cycling SA BMX Commission Director, Margot Gerber, said: ‘The racing was out of this world! The level of racing has certainly improved and we had the biggest combined Elite field in the past five years. It is good to see the older guys coming back to race too. They give it a try and think they’ve still got it – you never lose the skill and there is a lot of the fun factor in BMX racing.
And the youngsters joining the sport are equally impressive. For the first time in the national series, we had a start gate for the six-and-under age group with four riders on the start line. Thanks to all who were involved in making the first event of the series a great success.’
The fourth, fifth and sixth legs of the SA BMX N.A.G. Series will take place in KwaZulu-Natal on 4-5 July 2015.
Source : South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee