Crossing Borders and Breaking Barriers: Red Bull Pump Track World Championships, Roma, Lesotho
This past weekend marked a historic moment for riders of the GO!Durban Cycle Academy who travelled outside the country for the first time. The Velosolutions Izimbali team, two coaches from the academy, and Nonhlanzeko Mpanza, KwaDabeka Bike Park Site Manager, travelled to Roma, Lesotho to compete in the Red Bull Pump Track World Championships Qualifier event held at the Velosolutions pump track at the Roma Trading Post Lodge on Saturday, 30th March 2019.
In addition to racing, the trip offered valuable life skills as the riders got to experience a different African culture and learnt to make friends across country borders. The girls also took a mountain bike ride into the beautiful Lesotho mountains with Velosolutions CEO Claudio Caluori and #pumpforpeace Guardian, Anka Martin.
Back on the track, the ladies showed intense determination and focus. The official race was only open to riders aged 16 years and older, so Aphiwe Goge (13) and Amahle Cane (14) took part in the unofficial U/16 kids event, with Aphiwe taking 2nd place as she dominated the short rollers and tight berms.
Ongezo Mini (16) improved her time in each heat and successfully made it onto the podium in 3rd place, and her teammate Nomfundo Mtshali was just behind her in 4th place. With the exception of the ladies winner, Georgina Grassie, our ladies were the only other riders from South Africa to compete in the race.
Coaches Thobani Bhengu (KwaMashu) and Ayanda "Cruz" Cele (KwaDabeka) made it into the men's top 16 in 9th and 11th place respectively, but unfortunately got knocked out before the quarter-finals by the fiercely competitive local riders who had been perfecting their technique on the track all week. The race was won by 19-year old Mohapi Mosito of Lesotho in a lightning fast time of 19.58 seconds.
"This trip was a really significant step for the GO!Durban Cycle Academy as our first trip outside South Africa," says Tennille Taylor, Marketing and Communications Manager. "We empowered riders with their own passports for the first time and we challenged them to adapt to a new environment beyond their comfort zones. This encapsulates the foundation of the programme - to afford opportunities to kids through sports and to broaden their mindsets to see and understand the world beyond their own homes and community. It was amazing to see their growth, both personally and professionally, in such a short space of time. They represented the academy and their country with pride!"