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Namibian cyclists excel abroad

Namibian cyclists were in great form and did their country proud with some exceptional performances at various international events over the weekend. 

A total of 15 Namibian riders competed at the third leg of the South African XCO Cup at Koedoeslaagte in Parys, South Africa, where they won two gold, three silver and two bronze medals. 

Marco Thiel excelled to win the gold medal in the u16 Youth Men’s category. 

Thiel completed the four-lap race in a time of one hour one minute and 18 seconds, with Joshua Paul of South Africa coming second in 1:02:00 and another South African, Joshua Kanis third in 1:02:10. Two more Namibian riders completed the Youth Men category, with Matti Lukaschik coming 11th in 1:09:48 and Franco Thiel 15th in 1:16:36. 

Namibian coach Hans du Toit said it was a great performance. 

“It was an excellent performance by Marco considering that he came third at the previous SA Cup in Bloemfontein, while he is still only 15 years old and competing against 16-year-olds,” he said. 

What makes Namibia’s performance remarkable is the fact that their top u16 rider, Roger Suren, was not even present at the event. Suren is currently competing in Europe and on Sunday pulled off a remarkable achievement when he won the u17 category at the Swiss Bike Cup in Savognin, Switzerland – a performance which Du Toit hailed as Namibia’s best ever yet in Europe. 

“The Swiss Cup is probably the biggest and toughest junior MTB series in Europe, so to win that against the top riders from countries like Switzerland, Germany and Italy is really an incredible achievement. It’s actually mind-blowing and we have never had anything like that in our cycling history before,” he said. 

Du Toit, himself, also won a gold medal at Koedoeslaagte in the Masters Men’s category, after completing the three-lap race in  55:04, with Arnold Barnardo of SA coming second in 57:02. Du Toit, however, downplayed his achievement. 

“There are not so many competitors in the masters category in SA, but in Namibia it’s more of a family thing where everyone competes,” he said. 

Daniel Hahn excelled to win the silver medal in the junior men’s category. 

Ernest Roets of South Africa, who won the gold medal at the African Championships in Johannesburg a fortnight ago, won the race in 58 minutes, while Hahn came second in 59:06 and another South African, Omar Wilson came third in 59:24. Another Namibian cyclist, Justus Beulker finished ninth in a time of 1:05:29.

Hahn’s main Namibian rival, Kevin Lowe, was not even present at the event as he opted to stay at home to concentrate on his studies. 

Namibia’s up-and-coming junior women also did well to win medals in both the u14 and u16 age group categories. 

The u16 Youth Women category over three laps was won by Jodi Makinnon of SA in 57:08, followed by two Namibians – Delsia Janse van Rensburg who came second in 57:30 and Rosemary Thiel who came third in 59:48.

The u14 sub junior girls category over two laps was won by Madison Bateson of SA in 39:36, with Namibia’s Nicole Suren coming second in 42:09, and another Namibian, Anne Cramer coming third in 43:18. 

To top an excellent weekend off some of Namibia’s top senior riders also excelled in Europe.

Alex Miller and Vera Looser won the elite men and women’s races at the Bike World Race series in Zurich, Switzerland on Sunday, while Monique du Plessis, who is competing for a UCI African team won the elite women’s category at a road race in Brittany, France. 

Hugo Hahn also competed at the Swiss Bike Cup in Savognin where he came 15th overall in the elite men’s category. 

“It’s been a great weekend with some excellent results abroad, which shows that Namibian cycling is doing something right,” Du Toit said.