Nigerian cyclists win seven medals in South Africa, set for world championships
President of the Nigeria Cycling Federation (CFN), Giandomenico Massari believes the country’s riders can hold their own against the world’s best if given the required support.
He was speaking on the backdrop of the scintillating performance of the cyclists at the just concluded Africa Women Track Championship in South Africa.
Massari said the cyclists’ exploits at the recently held African Championship where Nigeria won seven medals testified to what track cycling could achieve for the country if adequately supported.
The country’s team of two cyclists, comprising elite female rider, Tombrapa Gladys Grikpa and junior cyclist, Mary Samuel, won seven medals at the African Women Track Championship to further demonstrate the country’s potential in track cycling.
Mary Samuel won four silver medals in sprint and point race in the junior category, while Gladys picked silver and two bronze medals in the elite events.
The track championship is one of the qualifying events for next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The Nigerian girls pulled the feat although appearing at that stage for the first time in the continent.
Massari noted with regret that despite having the best facility for the sport at the Abuja Velodrome, Nigeria’s track cycling was largely ignored.
That facility was formerly used by some individuals to store gas cylinders from 2013 to last year. But it has been cleared of the cylinders.
Massari said he was as excited by the outing of the two girls, which, he said, came with just a little technical support from South African Olympian, Jean-Pierre van Zyl, who took charge of the riders’ preparation.
“We have great potential in track cycling but owing to the problems we have had with the use of the velodrome, these talents are not harnessed despite this coming Olympics,” he regretted.
The cycling boss maintained that with adequate preparation, the cyclists might surprise all at the 2019 UCI world track championship scheduled for Pruszkow, Poland at the end of February.
Aside Nigeria, riders from Algeria, Burundi, Egypt, Morocco, Seychelles, Zimbabwe and hosts, South Africa participated in the three-day competition.