Craven Blows Away the Field
By Carlos Kambaekwa
Defending champion Dan Craven returned to his happy hunting ground to comfortably claim the annual 75-km Nedbank Cycle Challenge under torrential rain in the capital yesterday.
The Otjiwarongo-born cyclist took pole position from the outset and pulled away from the chasing pack with upcoming cyclist Tjipee Murangi brea thing heavily down his neck but when the pair reached the 15-km mark, the 21-year old Murangi found the going tough as the race intensified towards the steep hills on the Daan Viljoen road.
With his closest challenger falling behind and the rest of the chasing pack way out of sight, Craven took advantage of the situation and raced a one-man show before crossing the finishing line in a comfortable time of 1 hour 48 minutes and 55-seconds, shaving off a good two minutes from the time he set last year.
The 25-year old cyclist, who has been alternating between Namibia and Switzerland where he’s just spent six months of the year in Lugano South of Switzerland on the Italian border, had to ride on a second-hand bicycle which he hastily acquired at a cut price of N$450 in Windhoek on Friday.
Nick du Plessis came in second with Heiko Redecker further adrift in third place, while former champion Jacques Celliers had to be satisfied with a somewhat disappointing fourth place.
Wanda Tattersal won the Women’s division in the 75-km category, leaving Angelique Rall and Michaela Milz in second and third places respectively.
Magnus Kurz cycled his way to victory in the 35-km men’s event with Simon Shileka second and Wynandt Gouws in third place.
Vera Adrian took honours in the women’s division, ahead of second-placed Carola Hoffmeier and Jacqueline Burton who finished third.
Disabled athlete Frans Paulus, better known as “Tupac” in social circles, sent tongues wagging when he sped to a remarkable time of 2 hours and 55 minutes in an unofficial 54-km race after the 27-year-old wheelchair-confined athlete fell foul of some indiscretion by the marshals who failed to keep him anchored on his preferred 35-km distance.
However, a clearly delighted Tupac was not bothered by the added 19 kilometres at all and whispered that it was indeed a blessing in disguise as he is currently training for the 42,5 km Quateniqua Challenge in George in the Cape Province this coming Saturday.
The race will also serve as qualifier for the Beijing Paralympics in China later this year and Tupac is hopeful to become the first disabled athlete ever to represent Namibia at the Paralympics.
Should Tupac fail to qualify in George, the athlete will get another chance at the Indoor Paralympics Qualifiers in Stellenbosch, South Africa next month.
Despite the unpleasant weather conditions that prevailed over most parts of Namibia lately, the 23rd edition of the Annual Nedbank Cycle Challenge attracted a significant number of 1 178 entries in various categories with 90 kids also hammering the chains in the shorter distances.
The wet conditions played her part and had the paramedics on the alert for the better part of the race with several cyclists making heavy contact with mother gravity on the slippery road, notably on the sharp curves, but no serious injuries were reported though few cyclists had to call it a day halfway through the race because of the mishap.
The bulk of the country’s leading cyclists were notable absentees from yesterday’s event as they are currently training in South Africa with the primary view of qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics in China later this year.
Chief Administrator of the National Sports Commission and former Brave Warriors mentor, Rusten “Zukhile” Mogane, commended Nedbank for their tireless contribution towards the development of sport, in particular cycling and said: “We need to embrace the cycling federation, in particular Windhoek Peddling Power because I see quite a significant number of people from the previously disadvantaged community making inroads into this particular discipline which augurs well for the future of cycling in Namibia.”
The Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport Culture Pohamba Shifeta extended a vote of thanks to the sponsors (Nedbank) and urged more input from the corporate sector in order to assist Government in realizing its objective of making sport a useful tool for recon-
ciliation and unity.