Cycling Queen hails Zim juniors

HARARE - Veteran  cyclist Linda Davidson has heaped praise on the Zimbabwe Junior Cycling team for a stunning performance at the Confederation of African Cycling (Cac) Road Championships in South Africa last week.

Davidson, one of the most decorated riders to emerge from the country, was Zimbabwe’s last medal winner at the Cac, having bagged bronze in the Elite ladies in 2006.

It would take Zimbabwe nine years to win their next cycling medal at the same event and that happened last week in the South African port city of Durban.

Ironically, it was Linda’s daughter Skye and her compatriot Helen Mitchell who rose above the odds to stun some of Africa’s road cycling powerhouses, going on to win silver and gold respectively in the Junior Women’s Road Race.

The 17-year-old Mitchell led the way for the Zimbabwean contingent, emerging victorious in a sprint finish after the race had come down to five riders.

Her schoolmate at Hellenic Academy, Skye Davidson finished in second adding to the bronze medal she had won two days earlier in the Individual Time Trial, to leave her mum “proud”.

“Many people are not aware that road cycling is a team sport, even though there is only one winner and our junior women team of Skye Davidson and Helen Mitchell showed an exciting talent in their ability to work together under immense pressure during the race,” Davidson who is the team coach said.

“They were up against the very experienced team of four South African girls and it should have been impossible to gain victory in this situation.

“We discussed the strategy of their race in depth and the fact that the South Africans had the advantage with their greater numbers. Both girls understood the race tactics but the true winning strategy was their discipline in waiting for the right moment to make their move.”

The 12-time Zimbabwe National cycling Time Trial champion, who began her journey to prominence in triathlon as a 19-year-old after being crowned Zimbabwe national champion, was delighted by the team’s achievements.

“As the Zimbabwe coach, I could not be more proud of these two athletes, their teamwork and thinking ability on the bike,” she said.

“The roles were completely reversed, Helen and Skye had the South Africans under pressure which led to them making mistakes which our girls took advantage of.”

Zimbabwe was also represented by Alexander Welsh, two junior boys in the form of Chad Scallon and Luke Collins, both of St John’s College.

Nkulume Dube failed to travel to South Africa owing to commitments with the Zimbabwe National Army.

Besides Zimbabwe, the championships attracted 29 countries namely Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Libya, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.

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